Tape Me: Re-Considering Kurt Cobain’s Montage of Heck

Much commentary so far on the newly released Kurt Cobain – Montage of Heck: the Home Recordings soundtrack has been an example of how, over time, idolized figures in popular culture have their rough edges sanded away, their awkwardness removed, their sense of risk and threat neutered. I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan praising Martin Luther King Jr. in the mid-80s with terms of such emasculated emptiness that it erased the history of MLK’s confrontation with the American mainstream; his campaigns to secure recognition of the economic conditions of the African-American populace; his opposition to Vietnam; how much he scared and infuriated much of white America. Among some critics, and some audiences, the same rose-tinting process has happened to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. OH THE GUILT In the alternative universe posited, Kurt Cobain was a guy who churned out catchy three minute verse-chorus-verse pop songs with sweet melodies. This one-dimensional vision takes MTV Unplugged in New York as the true face of Nirvana, with the relative polish of Nevermind as the only other touchstone of the Nirvana sound. In reality, Unplugged was a dipped toe on a mainstream TV channel while Nirvana were a band who tagged ragged noise-jams onto both their … Continue reading Tape Me: Re-Considering Kurt Cobain’s Montage of Heck