How NOT to write about music – 143. Kurt Cobain

16

Here is the original transcript.

Seattle, 1994

I’m walking through an airport, a bag of vinyl records under my arm.

I’m watching the lights sparkle and twinkle over the city of Seattle – my favourite sight in the world – as tears crease down my face, and I’m wishing I was anywhere but.

I’m in a hotel room, incoherent rage coursing through me and just as rapidly dying away again. I make a great show of pouring the remains of my whiskey bottle down the sink but it’s meaningless. “Have you heard the news,” cipher after cipher asks me on the phone. “Have you heard the news?” Oh, is the news important then, all of a sudden?

I’m dully asking the check-in desk whether they have any cheaper flight tickets because I have to get some place and I have to get there now. They find me cheaper flight tickets, half price death special.

I’m talking to my friend Eric on the telephone. He’s in LA and I’m in Ohio, and he’s telling me that he and his party want to meet me at the residence. Need to meet me at the residence. I want to know what to do and he’s telling me that I should go there. Now. I want to know what to do, and in the background behind his airport pay phone I can hear a babble of voices, many raised. He says he’ll send a limousine for me. He says that’s what will happen. I want to know what will happen. He says he’ll send a car for me. He’s in LA and I’m in Cincinnati. We don’t talk about it.

I’m walking through the airport to the departure lounge and Steve’s taken my records from me and I have nothing with me, no hand baggage, just a passport and an old pair of jeans.

I’m in Mark’s apartment and I’m looking at my jeans and saying something about how maybe neither of us care – and he certainly wouldn’t have given a damn – but it feels disrespectful. It’s not raining outside. It’s fucking beautiful and Mark says something about that, about how weather changes moods. I cut my toenail badly, clipping it with an unfamiliar tool. The TV is on momentarily. Loads of sheep baaing in the field. We switch it off.

I’m on the plane and Seattle is twinkling and I want to stay circling the city forever. I think of all the people who’ve met me in Arrivals over the years. No friends are meeting me today, just a chauffeur who refrains from talking. The first time I landed in SeaTac it was snowing so thickly we couldn’t see the ground until the wheels hit the tarmac and even then we couldn’t see the ground. The tears spiral around my face, dried on there by the years. I’m on an airplane going nowhere. I have nothing to listen to.

I’m in a limousine and there seems to be some kind of roadblock up ahead, a scrimmage of reporters and police officers. We’ll never get through that. We’ll have to go round, won’t we? The driver turns round and looks at me, almost for the first time. “That’s our destination, buddy.”

I’m up in a bedroom and people are crying.

I’m standing by a winding staircase, and people are crying and shouting.

I’m hugging myself. I’m talking on the telephone to my mother, wondering how she’s managed to track me down to a telephone booth in an American airport. I’m missing my lost friends, badly.

I’m in a corner, and the opposing factions try and talk to me. I have nothing to say, no bag of records to show everyone to enthuse them with, to make them laugh or something. I have no stories or funny vomiting acts. Mark comes over, and says nothing.

I’m in a hotel bathroom, watching the remains of the bottle disappear down the sink.

I’m standing outside a fast food joint, looking at the sun.

I’m wondering if anyone’s ever going to want to listen to stories again.

Illustration: Vincent Vanoli

You can still buy the book. Send £13 via PayPal to ramonesfan79@yahoo.co.uk

 

How NOT to write about music – 96. The Wedding Present

the wedding present

I haven’t admitted to a love for The Wedding Present for many years, but I recall writing a spirited defence of their second album Bizarro shortly after arriving at Melody Maker, the result of which meant that none of my august new colleagues (David Stubbs, Simon Reynolds, Chris Roberts, the Stud Brothers et al) ever took my musical taste seriously again.

I’m not sure they did before, thinking about it.

My defence went something along the lines of, “It is impossible for you to dislike this music if you love music, so there is no point even arguing with me on this point because it makes no sense”. I believe it was no more or less sophisticated than that. John Peel attempted a similar line, claiming “The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the rock’n’roll era – you may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong.” Us Weddoes fans, we brooked no dissent. We knew what we liked, and what we liked came in surprise bursts of full-on euphoria and post-Orange Juice guitar storms, and much finer lovestruck couplets than (constant reference point) The Smiths because Morrissey never sounded sincere. Every girl I knew, or dated, had a crush on Gedge.

For myriad Maker writers howling mirth over numerous pints of Tennants Smug down the Stamford, this merely increased the sense of merriment. What, the lumpen dullard Northern proletariat articulating love and emotion? Time to get your coat, ET.

Ian Gittins used to say he always knew when a record was going to be good because I’d have given it a good kicking; and Nicky Wire later on invented an entire sub-genre: “Horrible Everett True music”. (Ironic then, that when he came to release his debut solo album it was full of horrible Everett True music.)

Fortunately, I do not have a copy of the Bizarro review to hand with which to embarrass myself further.* Also, their first album is way better. As The Guardian put it a couple of years ago, “their debut album, George Best, was like hearing your own internal monologue sung back at you by a breathless Yorkshireman.”

My colleagues’ scorn and mirth had an unlooked-for side effect: freed up of the encumbrance of having to worry about my taste, I thus had free rein to write about whatever I liked.

I could go on to destroy music for a generation: grunge.

(You don’t spot the connection? Have a listen to the riff on The Wolfhounds’ brilliant 1987 12″ single ‘Anti-Midas Touch’.)

Now it can be revealed. Grunge was Everett True’s revenge on my colleagues who refused to take my taste seriously. Sticking it to The Man by, um, becoming The Man.

It was all David Lewis Gedge’s fault.

Link to the music here.

*I find the album near unlistenable now, greatly preferring the one that came before (George Best, 1987) and the one that came after (Seamonsters, 1991), produced engineered by Steve Albini. Another grunge link.

**And they were fucking awful when they played Brisbane six years back. So bad, that me and Charlotte didn’t even look out David to say hello afterwards.

This is a good interview.