Thursday, June 30, 2005

Keith writes in on the eternal subject of Cobain vs. Corrigan

I read the e-mails. Sometimes I write back, sometimes I don't. I should probably put my e-mail address up here but the majority of you know you just write me at and it's forwarded.

But Keith found a review I did on Nirvana's boxed set and wrote in to ask if I stood by it. Stood by it? Do I even remember it? Honestly, no.

"Kat's Korner: Nirvana's With the Lights Out: There It Is now, It Don't Entertain Us." Click on that link to read it. It went up February 7th and I'm guessing Keith's been carrying his beef since then.

Keith doesn't dispute that the Nirvana boxed set is a marketing scheme to fleece the suckers. What bothered Keith were my remarks about Billy Corrigan (my one remark, I'm providing the surrounding remarks to offer context):

Kurt Cobain's suicide ended all of that. And who can say that, had he lived, it would have been any different? I'm sure, either with the band or without it, he would have continued making great music. I'm just not sure that, having created all these artificial imitations who would go along with any demand and not rock the boat, the mega-merged labels would have stuck with him. So much easier to pour all the energy and A.R. time into a puppet who would stand where you said, play what you wanted, and be a little naughty but never stupid and outrageous.
But he died. And I'll never forget the dee jay saying that. I was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway and I had to pull over. "Heart Shaped Box" came on. I just sat in the car in shock. Hearing that song and then "All Apologies" and realizing that Nirvana was no more.
Somewhere after a long Nirvana block, Tori Amos' "God" came on.
God, sometimes you just don't come through . . .
Would you even tell her if you decide to make the sky fall . . .
Not to take anything away from Courtney Love (I'll be the last to ever slag her), but Tori was the only other writer from grunge that approached greatness. (Which will no doubt will come as news to Billy Corrigan who's been in a pissing match with Kurt -- one he still can't win, even against a dead man.)
It all changed in that moment. When Tori's next album came out (Boys for Pele) she'd be played on alternative radio only. The go-alongs, the pretty boys, were churning out alterna-pop and there was no place for the real thing.
Which was a real shame because "Caught a Lite Sneeze" (intentionally or not) summed up grunge better than anything Todd Synder ever dreamed up.
Boys on my left side
Boys on my right side
Boys in the middle
And you're not here
I always picture "you're" as Kurt. All the pretty boys being churned out by the labels, blathering on about found about you and whining about sniffing sex and candy, all pale imitations of the real deal. And slowly but surely, alternative rock became alt-rock and women were nowhere to be found, though they could spin any track off The Joshua Tree -- a great U2 album but one that predates grunge and has nothing to do with alternative rock.
Maybe that's what's confusing the kiddies? They put on their local Clear Channel affiliated alterna-rock station, hear Nirvana alongside U2, Limp dough boys and a "golden nugget" from Candlebox so suddenly they think they know about grunge.

Out of all that (and much more) what stuck out to Keith was the one sentence on Corrigan.

It's accurate, Keith. Corrigan was highly competative with Cobain. Read the real time interviews. Keith writes, "Corrigan went on to form Swan."

No, Keith, he went on to form Zwan. And he broke up that group while they were in the midst of promoting the first album. Now he's trying to be God knows what but I caught the act and it ain't working.

Which is probably why he's making noises about reuniting Smashing Pumpkins. He knows it will get him publicity. Maybe he will reunite them. Will anyone care?

As the man who he pulled the plug on the group, a great grunge group, are you going to fork over high priced ticket money knowing that Zwan was just making headway when Corrigan pulled the plug on them? It's become really hard to trust Corrigan as a listener.

That's his own fault. "Disarm" is a great song, as Keith notes. It's also one of about six songs that are beautifully written. The other members of Smashing Pumpkins deserve strong credit for selling the sound.

But Billy thought he could do it all alone and reality and sales have disproven that myth.

Do I really feel Corrigan was attempting to compete with Cobain? That's what Keith is concerned about. Yes, I do. Again, go to the contemporary interviews while Cobain was still alive and witness the vennum. If Corrigan weren't so hell bent on proving he was better than Cobain (which he never managed to prove) he might not have trashed his own gifts so. But having heard the new lineup and the new songs, he has trashed his gifts.

Thanks for writing, Keith.