New Kurt Cobain Song Leaks, My Thoughts on Montage of Heck

To hear new music, skip to the bottom. For my thoughts on Montage of Heck, keep reading.

By now, you’ve probably seen Montage of Heck, Brett Morgen’s documentary on Kurt Cobain that attempts to make the man’s life a bit less ambiguous. Like many Nirvana fans, I was particularly stoked on this one. Sure, this story has been repeated over and over: a misunderstood kid grows up to be in one of the biggest rock n roll bands but still remains misunderstood, takes drugs, and then dies young. Yet, because Kurt didn’t live in the age of the iPhone and therefore couldn’t over expose himself to the eventual downfall of oversharing, a lot about him remained a mystery to those who were just casual fans. What made this documentary seem so promising is that this was the first time that the Cobain estate allowed an outsider in to explore Cobain’s archives. If you’re a fan, this is exciting as there was a chance that we may hear new songs, see new sketches or other pieces of art and history behind the man.

However, having the Cobain estate involved meant that a lot of stuff would be cut out or glossed over. For example, every instance that Courtney Love is onscreen, her demeanor seems to imply that she has something to hide. Especially one of her final interviews in which she acknowledges that she was “going to” cheat on Kurt but then he attempted suicide in Rome in the spring of 1994. The way she shuffles around her cigarette and presents her point of view just reeks that she’s trying to bury something from either us or herself.

But picking on Love is low hanging fruit. The other problems I have with the documentary is that it didn’t go deep enough on anything I found important. There’s no mention that Kurt used to try and build his own guitars, even during his teenaged years? Fine, I guess I can see how that got lost on cutting floor. No mention of Kurt getting relentlessly bullied for having a gay friend in school (but Morgen can throw the “retard-fucker” story in, though King Buzzo has stated that this story was bullshit)? That’s weird, but the two hour plus runtime can’t be compromised too much. Just cut to black after the Unplugged performance and end the film in a “3 months later, Kurt took his own life” but not even mention some of the discrepancies of the case? Fine, I guess. Like I said, the runtime is already pretty strenuous (but maybe if they cut out some of the pointless home videos of him and Courtney Love goofing off, then maybe they could squeeze in some actual information).

But I think the biggest offense is that they didn’t put enough emphasis on how Nirvana became the voice of a generation because they stuck up for the rejects of their own generation. Yes, in passing, Kurt mentions that he’s doing it “for the kids” but maybe they could have included this linear note from the inside of Insecticide’s linear notes:

At this point I have a request for our fans.  If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us — leave us the fuck alone!  Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”

That might not seem so potent today, but for a band like Nirvana, who were already outcasts and swimming in the sea of 90’s mainstream rock dominated by machoism, misogyny, homophobia, and racism (see Axl Rose), that is something significant. They were outcasts who stood up for other outcasts and I feel like the documentary could have covered that more. If I was reviewing the movie, I’d give it a 2.5/5. It’s well made but it glosses over a few too many points. I’d recommend About a Son instead.

Anyways, for those who aren’t interested in any of that, Montage of Heck has been re-released in theaters for the time being to ride on its popularity. In order to give fans incentive to see it again, Morgan has stated that he has included a long lost Cobain recording into the new cut of the film (which sounds more like he’s trying to get more incentive$$ if you catch my drift). He also states that he won’t tell fans where as to discourage cell phone recordings of it from popping up on the internet. Well lo and behold, guess what’s popped up on the internet this morning?

The song in question has not been named but apparently, it’ll be included on the DVD/album release of the documentary this November. I’m not stoked for either in particularly because I don’t know how it could be anything that was not including on the massive With the Lights Out boxset from ten years ago, but maybe I’m just being cynical? We shall see.

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