Tag Archives: Portland

Polly: matching rape songs by Mudhoney, Hole, and Nirvana

I met Kurt at a club in L.A. right before Nevermind came out. We took a picture and he said, “Come on, let’s give the finger!” So we did.
– Iggy Pop, Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Artists.

(Note: Run your pointer over the boldface words for more info if your browser is equipped to display definitions or additional information in “title” attributes.)

It’s difficult to start writing about rape, and all the time it shows up in grunge lyrics, and especially, videos. And by “grunge” I am talking about a specific community of musicians who got their start in the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s.

It’s difficult in part because everyone (even me – a little bit) wants to stay in denial, but more so because the rape imagery is so pervasive. It’s pervasive enough to make me think that a literal rape occurred. And that the victim was Kurt Cobain.

If this is true, Cobain’s 1994 suicide doesn’t make everything “ok.” Even if you don’t think the dead deserve justice, there are related crimes which continue to this day, including the continuing exploitation of Chris Newman (who is not, in fact, dead), the decade-plus smear campaign against Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, and the fact that Cobain’s daughter Francis has to live, without a father, under a cloud of lies. From my perspective, the truth is vital.

I already wrote a bit about two of Hole’s songs, Burn Black and Dicknail. Maybe the next logical thing to do is to go straight to the source and write about Nirvana’s rape songs, especially since Kurt Cobain went to such lengths to finger someone.

The key to Nirvana – and Mudhoney – rape songs is the song “Sweet Young Thing” by the Monkees.


In the TV performance of the song, the Monkees perform “Sweet Young Thing,” (1966) elderly people dance around, take turns in wheelchairs, etc. In the circus mirror, (uninitiated) innocence is represented by old age.

More notable are the lyrics:

And it’s love you bring,
No that I can’t deny,
With your wings,
I can learn to fly,
Sweet young thing.

People try to talk to me
Their words are ugly sounds
But I resist all their attempts
To try and bring me down.
Turned on to the sunset
Like I’ve never done before
And I listen for your footsteps
And your knock upon the door.

21 years later, in 1987, Mudhoney wrote a song with the same title (Sweet Young Thing), though this time the hook was “sweet young thing ain’t sweet no more.” It’s a snarly, sinister-sounding song about the end of innocence, shown by the lines “mommy’s little pills spilled all over the floor” and “mama can’t handle her on her own, she said ‘you just wait ’till your father gets home.'” It might be worth noting that the word “pills” sounds like “bills” on the Superfuzz Bigmuff version of the song. (Sweet Young thing full lyrics) Indeed – when you’ve got dogs, pigs, and ducks chasing you, you know there are big bills involved. (Ask Lady Gaga.)

Another contemporary Mudhoney song (also on the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP) which seems related is “Sliding In And Out Of Grace.”

Cry for mercy, relieve my hate
Sliding in ‘n’ out of grace
Spill my seed, suck my waste
Sliding in ‘n’ out of grace

Oh God, how I love to hate
Sliding in ‘n’ out of grace
Save me Lord, and fuck the race… etc (full lyrics)

Songs performed later, mainly by Courtney Love, suggest that “Sliding In And Out of Grace” was specifically about Kurt Cobain. The word “grace” comes up in a couple of her songs which I believe are about Kurt, most notably “Northern Star,” but also “Happy Ending Story” and in some of the live performances she’s done. In fact, I believe that “Northern Star” matches Courtney’s more recently penned “Honey.” I believe that both of those songs were written not about twins, but about triplets. Three other songwriters: Kurt Cobain, Chris Newman, and Mark Arm.

Anyone who really pays attention to Courtney’s lyrics, videos, and live performances would have a hard time missing the subtext she’s been weaving in since day one. But the ringleaders work hard to re-direct your attention anywhere but where you should be looking. That is, I believe, the reason for the seemingly never-ending smear campaign against Courtney Love.

Around 1990 (same era as Hole’s songs “Dicknail” and “Burn Black”), Kurt Cobain wrote two very important songs dealing with rape and abuse. One was written from the perspective of a kidnapper and rapist experiencing what seems to be dissociated shreds of empathy, and appeared on the 1991 album Nevermind. It is called “Polly.” The other was written, sarcastically, from the perspective of a rape victim. It was called “Rape Me,” and though, like Polly, it was said to be written around 1990, it didn’t appear on an album until 1993’s In Utero. There is a third song that is connected, which I’ll just mention in passing, and it is “Negative Creep.” Negative Creep, with it’s chorus of “Daddy’s little girl ain’t a girl no more” is clearly a response to the Mudhoney song “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More.” The fact that every single rock critic has missed that most obvious point for the past quarter of a century ought to suggest that something is really fucking stinky in Denmark. And everywhere else, too.

In any case, I believe that in all of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s songs, “Daddy” is Mudhoney’s Mark Arm. (With or without a “twin.”)

The name “Polly” means “parrot,” going back to the 16th or 17th century (OED), and the classic phrase “Polly want a cracker” makes the parrot reference undeniable. The distinctive characteristics of parrots are imitation. (They also tend to be yellow and green – “sun” colors. – see lexicon) Because the “night club” reflects and imitates the sun, and because the grunge myth is tightly controlled (everyone has a script from which no one ever deviates) Cobain was forced to “parrot” the party line. “Speak at once while taking turns” is the way he described it in a later song, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. The parrot reference is the reason I think that Polly is specifically about Kurt Cobain, written from a place of dissociation. Dissociation is what happens when you experience severe abuse. Though Polly is also a “mirror” song. I couldn’t call it a “twin” song because there are multiple images in this mirror. It’s a POLY-MIRROR. (See how Kurt does that? EVERY. WORD. MATTERS. and sometimes every letter.)

The poly subjects are all crime victims and/or perpetrators: Chris Newman (as usual); and the 14 year old girl (who’s name was not actually Polly); and Kurt Cobain. Also the perpetrator/s of the respective crimes. I believe there are 5 subjects in Polly. And by that I mean that I believe that the crimes against Kurt Cobain and Chris Newman had the same perpetrator.

I also believe that Kurt Cobain was using the news story upon which he based the song as a metaphor for something that had happened to him (very possibly an actual rape), and something that he wanted to happen: escape from an untenable situation, and ultimately, justice.

Friend had picked her up near the Tacoma Dome in his car after she had attended a rock concert. She was able to earn his trust and sympathy by convincing him she enjoyed it. She managed to escape when he stopped for gas. She got out of the vehicle and made a scene attracting attention from surrounding people. – from Wikipedia Polly_(song)

Polly was saved, I guess because the “surrounding people” had no investment in her continuing captivity and/or silence. Kurt Cobain was and Chris Newman is in a different situation.

The perpetrator of the incident that inspired the song “Polly,” Gerald Friend, was thought at the time to be the Green River killer. (Wikipedia: Gerald Arthur Friend)

Green River, of course, was name of the first band to sign with Sub Pop, fronted by Mark Arm. In 1988 Green River essentially split into two bands: Pearl Jam and Mudhoney.

In terms Kurt’s “other” rape song, Rape Me, there are lines like “my favorite inside source, I’ll kiss your open sores” (suggests someone with a hidden heroin or other syringe-drug habit), “you’ll always stink and burn” (recalls a Sylvia Plath line “turn and burn” which in turn recalls the position of the hanged man, which is the sun), and then there are some very notable lines, like “rape me – hate me – waste me – taste me.” “Hate me” reflects a line from Mudhoney’s aforementioned “Grace” song, “Oh God how I love to hate.”

If you listen carefully to the song, Rape Me, Cobain is singing “I’m not the only one,” but he’s also slurring into “I want the only one.”



Love vs. Indifference | recording with anti-genocide activist Robert Park

By Erika Meyer

“Affliction (Malheur) hardens and discourages us because, like a red hot iron, it stamps the soul to its very depths with the scorn, the disgust, and even the self-hatred and sense of guilt and defilement that crime logically should produce but actually does not. Evil dwells in the heart of the criminal without being felt there. It is felt in the heart of the man who is afflicted and innocent.” – Simone Weil

Continue reading Love vs. Indifference | recording with anti-genocide activist Robert Park

Red and Blue

Red and Blue seem to be two different streams of international finance. Pink is a combination of red and white which may signify something like the “curing cancer” – cancer being corruption. “I want to eat/kill/cure your cancer when you turn black” (Kurt Cobain, Heart Shaped Box, 1993). There may be other connotations to pink – many female – but not only female – musicians wear pink, but usually it is hair or clothing – rarely on shoes, and shoes are symbols of protection, mobility, and power.

Purple may be a combination of red and blue, or it may signify royalty. When combined with green and/or yellow, purple suggests the Sun King, while lavender/violet – especially lavender hair – may be a hypnotic trigger (MK ULTRA).

Blue and Red work together. Blue seems to be associated with “old” money – like royalty (“royal” blue), maybe also early industrialists (J.P. Morgan etc) and probably big corporations like gas and oil companies. According to Investopedia, “A blue-chip stock typically has a market capitalization in the billions, is generally the market leader or among the top three companies in its sector, and is more often than not a household name.” Red seems to be associated with casinos, labor unions, and cities like Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlantic City. It’s also associated with meat, blood, trade unions, and red wine.

Like many other music videos, Katy Perry’s video for “Waking Up in Vegas” uses red and blue to suggest finance streams. It is also one of the earliest videos showing a clue about the surveillance in my home – Katy Perry’s leopard bra (1:24-1:26) looks just like a bra I was wearing regularly back in 2009. This video was published just two months after I found the “Magician’s” (#1) poker chip on the sidewalk outside my home.

Yellow/orange/gold, green, and metallic colors represent the sun. (Gold, green, and black are often found in the flags of African and Caribbean countries.) White and black are both “sun” colors (purity and contamination as mirrors). White and black together (especially as a chessboard pattern, as on so many mason-built medieval Cathedral floors) suggest “The Game” to me.

The following song is about Portland. Television sets in music videos are pretty much always a SUN reference. The bus in the beginning of the video is the very bus that runs by our house. Mr. Malkmus is letting us know how closely we’re being watched.

The frog is us, Boo Frog.

Cinnamon is “sinner man.” The Dead symbolizes “Jerry,” a dinosaur rocker. The hood symbolizes the removal of our senses. The rope is our tether. The record collection belongs to our captors. The T.V. is their secret – we are secretly filmed and on “T.V.” The chains are a symbol of slavery/freedom (see also: Alice in Chains).

Maryland and VirginiaBased on information from a 2009 TV series called Secret Societies: The String Pullers, I believe that when you see chains (chains on purses, heavy chains worn around the neck), and when you see one shoe off, one on, it is a reference to a masonic initiation ritual, specifically an Illuminati initiation ritual. I also believe that the burial of the “SUN” – the living dead, wrapped and observed – is an Illuminati (traumatic/criminal) bonding technique. Illuminati are a secret masonic sect dating back to the 18th century, and according to a BBC program I saw recently, they are strong in the United States, especially in the state of Virginia, which has direct connections to Washington’s state capitol of Olympia. (Washington D.C. lies between Virgina and Maryland.)

In that particular documentary, the virtual human sacrifice is not mentioned, but shown in a visual representation of an initiation ritual. (A mummy-wrapped body struggling, not unlike the body in Mark Lanegan’s Gravedigger’s Song video.) The participation of police in this secret society is similarly unspoken, but clued by the appearance of a police car in the background of one sequence. This very style of indirect suggestion-based communication is typical. Messages are hidden in plain sight.

dollar bill pyramidIlluminati symbols are hidden in plain sight everywhere, including on the brick wall of Portland’s historic Belmont Fire Station, on the American one dollar bill, and on the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France. In downtown Portland there is a statue called Portlandia which was actually built in Maryland, near Washington D.C. Portlandia looks like a female Poseidon, barely visible as she looks down through the thick foliage of urban trees. The statue’s placement, including the under-sculpture tree-cover was deliberate, according to the artist. “Tree” is slang for artists who cannot move ahead, or get out of town. The irony of an underwater type of goddess looking down through leaves is mirror play.

I believe that references to FRANCE are in fact, references to Illuminati. The flags of France and the United States are both red, white, and blue, whereas the flags of African and Caribbean nations often include gold, green, black.

King Buzzo - This Machine Kills Artists

January 6, 1989 – Mudhoney with Nirvana in Portland at Satyricon

January 6, 1989. My friend David Ackerman took these photos 25 years ago today here Portland, Oregon at the Satyricon. David’s photos are the only ones which have been published from this show. Mudhoney was headlining, Nirvana was opening. It was Nirvana’s first out of state show. Courtney Love can be seen in two of the photos. In one photo, she’s posing near the stage as the bands are switching. In another, she’s watching Mudhoney play. (I’d love to identify the rest of the people in the audience shots – drop me a line if you can help.) The photos are available for licensing or as fine art prints (contact me). They should not be used without permission or credit.

Introducing Napalm Beach: The band that taught Seattle how to rock

Sam Henry and Chris Newman - Napalm Beach

I’ve tried to write this story, or something like it, a few times, but always got mired. Then, on July 11, something about the way two contrasting images cut across my brain – the 25-year-old daddy-band Mudhoney surfing across the blue skies of Seattle, while the 33-year-old granddaddy-band Napalm Beach says farewell from deep inside the Star Theatre – made me think it’s time to finish. Continue reading Introducing Napalm Beach: The band that taught Seattle how to rock

Introducing the band that taught Seattle how to rock…


By Erika Meyer

I’ve tried to write this story, or something like it, a few times, but always got mired. Then, on July 11, something about the way two contrasting images cut across my brain – the 25-year-old daddy-band Mudhoney surfing across the blue skies of Seattle, while the 33-year-old granddaddy-band Napalm Beach says farewell from deep inside the Star Theatre – made me think it’s time to finish. Continue reading Introducing the band that taught Seattle how to rock…

Surfing with the Orca Team at Record Room, Portland

Orca Team

By Erika Meyer

Orca Team… this bass drum is about the size of most people’s floor tom. What they’re is saying is, you don’t have to be the biggest whale in the ocean to be the most ferocious.” – Calvin Johnson (at Old Disjecta 10-01-10)

A surfer I went to college with was bit by a great white shark off of Trinidad Head, in far northwestern California. He showed me his scar, a half-moon across his torso, and described swimming out, feeling himself pulled down into the water, and then released. There he floated on his board in the ocean, bleeding and gazing toward shore, wondering whether the shark would return. “I decided,” he said, “That if I’m going to die, I’m glad to die right here. It’s so beautiful.” Continue reading Surfing with the Orca Team at Record Room, Portland

Riot Grrrl Karaoke Portland Part II: Not Enough! and Punk Start My Heart

Not Enough! Queer Music Festival, Portland, Oregon

By Erika Meyer

I was so impressed with the substance and energy of Riot Grrrl Karaoke that I asked to interview one of the organizers, Jamie Montoya. I want to shine a light on something creative and beautiful in our community in hopes that it could spark similar endeavors in other cities. I’m also very attracted to the continuum of women and queer activists for whom the riot grrrl movement was an important formative influence, who are now using the values and lessons of that movement to spark new ideas and collaborations. Continue reading Riot Grrrl Karaoke Portland Part II: Not Enough! and Punk Start My Heart

Jan Terri meets Thë Ünïcörnz and conquers Seattle

Jan Terri at Black Lodge - photo by T.V. Coahran

By Erika Meyer

I feel really terrible to have waited so long to write about Jan Terri’s greatly anticipated comeback show at Seattle’s Magma Fest, March 31, 2012. Life sometimes steamrolls one’s best intentions. Still, this was too important a show to let go without some kind of review, and plus, there is a brand new video of Jan’s Magma Fest set thanks to Kenn Piekarski’s Off Tempo underground NW music archiving project. Continue reading Jan Terri meets Thë Ünïcörnz and conquers Seattle

It’s a hard thing to get hipsters dancing: The Maxines and The Shivas in Portland, Oregon

The Shivas cassette - WHITEOUT!

By Erika Meyer

I went to see a show Friday night. It was at a little bar and was well-attended by young adults that I really don’t want to call, but don’t know what else to call, hipsters. I am fully aware of the futility of this term, and the badness of labels and stereotypes. I’m also sometimes a brat.  Continue reading It’s a hard thing to get hipsters dancing: The Maxines and The Shivas in Portland, Oregon