|NFC News 07/2001|
I now have the pleasure, as one of the first in the world, of publishing my personal review of
the forthcoming book "Heavier Than Heaven - A Biography of Kurt Cobain" by Charles R. Cross. The book,
mentioned several times in this news section, is the ultimate biography of Kurt Cobain.
"Although the tragic circumstances of Kurt Cobain's suicide are well known, the facts of his
life - and the influence of his artistry- remain largely unexamined. Now veteran music
journalist Charles R. Cross fuses his intimate knowledge of the Seattle music
scene with his deep compassion for his subject in this extraordinary story of
artistic brilliance and the pain that extinguished it.
Here is my review, and a couple of quotes from the book: This excellent book is the product of four years of research, 400+ interviews, access to Kurt's personal journals and extensive knowledge of the music business. The book, being a Kurt Cobain biography, is entirely based on him - and not on Nirvana. The band was, of course, a large and crucial part of the singer's life, but the book's main focus is not on the band. Therefore, many details on Nirvana, including their recording sessions and shows are just mentioned briefly - if discussed at all. Only a handful of shows are mentioned, and recording sessions are only dealt with by a few paragraphs. The recording session for the legendary 'Nevermind' album for example is covered in just a couple of pages, while the very same period takes up more than 50 pages in a different book (entirely about the "Nevermind" album) by the same author.
When it comes to the life of Cobain, however, few details are left out. Every aspect of Kurt Cobain is covered, beginning with his birth in February 1967 up until his death in April 1994. With a great and captivating writing style, Cross goes through Kurt's life chronologically throughout the book, describing the most interesting events in his life. The story of Cobain is pieced together with the help of interviews with, it seems, everyone who ever had repeated contact with Kurt - including close family members, band mates, girlfriends, musicians and many many others. As an unprecedented bonus, the book includes many excerpts from Kurt's own personal journals and descriptions of some of his artwork.
"I just got done watching 'Reefer Madness' on MTV ... It was made in the thirties and if people took one toke of the devil drug, marijuana, they spaced-out big time, killed each other, had affairs, ran over innocent victims in cars. They sent this teenager, who looked like the Beaver, on a murder rap. Wow, that's more excitement than I can handle. It was like a big over-exaggeration. But I accept the whole idea behind it. Pot sucks." - quote from an early letter that Kurt wrote to his Aunt, Mari Earl.
Kurt's own words help piece together how he was feeling throughout his life, and what went through his mind, something that those close to him would not always see. The grain of detail and preciseness in the book gives you the feeling that the book is a transcript of tapes made by a TV-crew following every step of Kurt's life -- in the book, there are no ".. according to an anonymous source" remarks, no "I believe that [...]", no guesswork and no speculation. You get the impression that every bit of information is carefully researched, and believed to be accurate. This, and the writing style, makes it seem as if the author witnessed every event described in the book, and wrote it down. Therefore, the book elmininates many rumors and myths concerning the singer, many even started by himself - talking to gullible journalists. For one, he never lived under a bridge.
In general, the book sets itself dramatically apart the others on Nirvana and/or Kurt Cobain in that most of it offers "new" information that has not been published before, including several horrid stories. Even if you consider yourself a Nirvana expert, and have read "Come as you are" a dozen times or whatever, you'll still be able to discover many many new details and facts in this one - and you will probably find answers to many unanswered questions you may have had.
"Grohl's first show was in Olympia's North Shore Surf Club. The night marked some of the worst technical snafus of Nirvana's entire history; an electrical malfunction caused the power to blow repeatedly, and the band had to turn off half their amps to avoid further blackouts. The only illumination available came from audience members holding flashlights, creating an eerie effect like something out of a cheap independent film. Playing with a tiny kit, Grohl proved too strong; He hit the drums so hard he destroyed the snare."
The life of Kurt Cobain is no fairytale, however; The morbid, highly contradictive and obscure Cobain died in his hotel room just a few hours after performing on Saturday Night Live in '92, only to be resurrected by Courtney Love. His story is dominated by a detailed coverage of his extensive drug use which, unfortunately, is a main theme of the book as it was with the infamous Christopher Sandford bio. Even so, Charles Cross maintains a fairly respective description of it, and does not drown the book's authority as Sandford did - by polluting the book with highly questionable stories from unnamed sources.
In conclusion, the book is an excellent description of Kurt Cobain's life, all of it's major events, and his part of Nirvana. As mentioned, it gives many interesting and fascinating details, stories, descriptions and much information that all Nirvana fans should know. This is not a Nirvana book and is not a book about music, but about the life of one person. Whether this is a bad or good thing depends on how interested you are in Kurt Cobain, I suppose.
Even with that in mind, as one who tends to care more about Nirvana's music than the singer, I found it to be a great book, and learned quite a lot from reading it. I strongly encourage everyone to read this one ... it should not go unnoticed. If you seek knowledge on Cobain, this is the only book you should get, and it ought to answer most of your questions - and give extensive information that explains how Nirvana came about, and what happened "behind the scenes". Kudos to Mr. Cross for his exhaustive research, for allowing us to see what Kurt wrote down in his journals, and for interviewing those who could tell this story the best, and most accurately. It is a very commendable and impressive piece of work. The book will be published on August 15 - perhaps earlier at some stores. Click here for the official press release, courtesy of Charles Cross. Note; despite the announced August 15 release date, the book was already released around July 29 in most of the US. It can therefore be ordered at amazon.com and bn.com already now.
Charles Cross, author of the above mentioned book, will be going on a little tour soon, to do readings and sign copies of his book. Here is the current schedule for the northwest (let him know who sent ya!):
I finally had a chance to watch VH-1's "Behind The Music: 1992" special. The show focuses on the music scene of the year 1992 - a year where music was particularly interesting. A large part of the program is dedicated to the Seattle scene - which had it's climax this year - and thereby Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. Charles Cross, mentioned above, is featured in some interesting interview bits, talking about Nirvana and 1992 music in general. The show mentions how Nirvana knocked off Michael Jackson from the charts in early 1992, to which Cross noted; "Michael Jackson's number one. January 12th, Nirvana becomes number one. What many people in the record industry told me, is that is not exactly from sales of records, it's from kids who got other records, took them in on Christmas, and returned them. So Nirvana's may be the first record in history to become number one - based on returns!" The program also features short interview segments with Krist Novoselic, among others. Apart from Nirvana and "grunge", the show discusses the L.A. riots following the Rodney King trial, as well as the 1992 US presidential elections. "If any one song changed the course of music history in 1992 - it was Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'". Cross; "You get an emotional tone before you ever even hear the lyric - that's the greatest thing about 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. You listen to that song and the first 10 seconds, there's not a word uttered - but you know what it's about, you know it's about anger, you know it's about frustration." Great show. I believe the 1994 "Behind The Music" also mentions Nirvana, but I have yet to watch it.
"Don't know if you've seen this already, but Totalguitar.co.uk has a section on Butch Vig talking about what it was like recording Nevermind and how he met the band, and what he thinks of Kurt as a song-writer." Thanks to Russell. I am not gonna post the interview here, but you can read it at this site.
"Hi, my name is Chris, and on a recent trip to Las Vegas I took three digital pictures of the Hard Rock Cafe/Casino tribute to Nirvana. There are two of Kurt's guitars, three of his outfits, a large poster of his face, and two television screens showing a continuous loop of his shows and interviews." View some of the great pictures here; #1, #2, #3. Special thanks to Chris Speirs.
"The Vault" - a section for fans to submit their work - was finally updated. In this update are some great drawings and paintings, and some other creative material - such as poems. Check out the update, and all the other great stuff in this section, here.
Another courtroom drama featuring Courtney Love is underway; "Courtney Love, who is being
sued for failing to pay more than $40,000 in rent, said the house wasn't suitable so the
lease was never executed. The singer-actress made the statement in papers filed recently
in the British Columbia Supreme Court by Vancouver lawyer Gordon Weatherill, who is acting
for Love and another defendant, Kitty Films Inc. Peter Ashby sued Love, the widow of Nirvana
lead singer Kurt Cobain, saying she moved out of his waterfront home after only one day
while working in the Vancouver area on the movie '24 Hours.' Ashby said he received two
advance checks, but the payments had been stopped when he tried to cash them. Love's
statement on July 11 said the agreement was subject to her approval of the home, which
she had not seen before. No date has been set for the trial, which will take place in Vancouver.
Ashby is suing for rent and the damage deposit payments. He also wants compensation for
his legal costs and interest." Story
courtesy of Yahoo! and AP. Thanks to Cary for the link.
The site buddyhead.com posted the following interesting story recently; "7.22.2001.
Some crazy shit (and rock history) went down last monday night (7/16/2001) @ conway
studios in the lovely city of angels [Los Angeles]. The details are far and few, but
from what we do know; Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana),
Taylor 'Oliver' Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Donita Sparks (L7), Josh Homme (Queens Of The
Stoneage), and some other folks recorded a few songs. No word on if and when they will
ever be released." Quite interesting! It would be nice to see a recording by such great
musicians. Thanks to buddyhead.com, Rob Holmes and 'Projektt RRed' for the story.
"This satuday on VH1 in the UK there's a program called 'Nirvana: Egos and Icons'.
It's all about Coabin and includes rare interview footage with him talking about
his negative take on fame and views on the music scene at the time. That's Nirvana:
Egos and Icons - VH1 UK - 9pm (GST), Saturday 21st July." Thanks to Jonathan Sutcliffe.
"In the new issue of People magazine there is an ad for the People Special
issue for MTV's 20th Birthday, and Kurt is on the cover. Other people who are
on the cover are Madonna, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. The issue will
come out on July 23 [in the US]." Thanks to Jordana.
The 9th NFC Competition is now up. This competition is the biggest to date,
featuring nothing less than eight spectacular prizes. The first prize
is a copy of the much anticipated Kurt Cobain biography "Heavier than Heaven"
by Charles R. Cross. The book, to be officially released August 15, should
not be missed. The 2nd prize is the new edition of the 'Winterlong' book,
simply titled 'Nirvana'. It features many great Nirvana photos, some in
color, and an interesting introduction by Everett True. Two lucky winners
will get this one. The 3rd prize is a copy of the book "UNCHAINED - The
story of Mike Starr and his rise and fall in Alice in Chains" by John
Brandon. See the April 2001 news archive for more info. The book is
signed by the author. The 4th prize is a black T-shirt with a great
drawing of Kurt Cobain printed on it. The 5th prize is a copy of Nirvana's
album "Bleach" on CD. The 6th prize is a copy of the newly released
"NFC Compilation: Volume II" - two lucky winners will get this one.
To enter the competition, simply answer some easy questions and fill
out your name and e-mail address here.
Don't miss this one! Entering your name more than once will lead to
disqualification. Remember that even if you entered your name to previous
NFC Competitions, you'll need to do it again, since records for old
contests are not saved. Special thanks to Robin Moses, Hyperion Publishing,
Charles R. Cross, Sarah Marusek, Vision On publishing, Steve Gullick,
John Brandon, Brad, Matt Chocqueel-Mangan and Esprit UK for making this
Today, Love Michelle Harrison (better known as Courtney Love) turns
37. Born on July 9, 1964, Courtney married Nirvana's Kurt Cobain in
1992 and later gave birth to their daughter Frances Bean. Frances'
godmother, the beautiful and lovely actress Drew Barrymore, was
apparently just married to comedian Tom Green. Congratulations!
In the September issue of Playboy magazine there is going to be an article
on the forthcoming Nirvana book; "Heavier Than Heaven". Apparently it contains
excerpts to give an impression of the book before it's actual release. I'm
sure the magazine will also offer some interesting photos .. of Nirvana of
course. Or not :) Thanks to Peter and Charles R. Cross for the news.
Over at the official Rolling Stone magazine website (www.rollingstone.com), they
are running a 'Battle of the Bands' poll with Courtney [Love] versus Nirvana.
After 1961 votes, 8% of them (148) were for Courtney while the remaining 92%
(1813) of the votes were for Nirvana (Krist and Dave, basically). Thus, the result
of this poll is virtually the same as the poll I have been running on the main
page of this site for some time now. Go to www.rollingstone.com to vote if you'd like.
Note that all the sound files offered in the NFC Sound Gallery are currently not available, as the server hosting them is down. At the same time, the mp3 files for the two NFC Compilations are also down. We hope to get these files back online soon.
MTV, SonicNet and VH-1 put up another interesting Nirvana news story;
"As Courtney Love and Nirvana's surviving members face off in a legal battle over the
band's legacy, 120 tapes of unreleased material featuring Kurt Cobain sit in a vault — and
that's where they'll remain, says a source close to the Cobain estate, until Nirvana's record
company gives the band a better deal. The collection includes recordings of the
late singer alone as well as tapes of the band throughout its career, including
Nirvana's first show in Seattle in April 1988 [sic], four-track basement demos,
bedroom tapes of Cobain singing and strumming on new songs as well as embryonic
versions of classics like 'All Apologies,' and the band's last complete recording,
'You Know You're Right.' Also among the unreleased material is a song called 'Opinion,'
on which Cobain responds 'to everyone having an opinion on his medical condition,'
according to the source. The late Nirvana singer suffered from chronic stomach pain,
which he blamed, at least in part, for his heroin use. A version of the song taped
from a radio appearance was available on Napster until stringent screening procedures
took effect earlier this year.
The British NME also put up a story about the boxed set, going over the same
things as the previous news stories. It's a pretty interesting summary, though,
and it includes a couple of links to this site. Read it here.
VH-1s website offers a mirror of the story previously published by MTV News and
SonicNet. Check it out here.
Thanks to James and others. In addition, the case was mentioned in a number of newspapers
around the world, including a Swedish one.
SonicNet put up an article about the boxed set issue that adds a little
bit of extra info. Check it out here.
Thanks to Alexandr and others for the link. There was also a post at the
hole.com discussion board with an email that Courtney had apparently sent
to Krist, concerning this issue. Apparently she confirmed it to be real.
You might still be able to find it at hole.com.
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