clap clap blog: we have moved
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Via this Velvet Rope thread we find this Slate article which is a qualified appreication of Courtney. It's pretty good, even though it makes a few errors to my mind--almost totally ignoring Celebrity Skin and America's Sweetheart except to trash them, which is just annoying her-early-stuff-was-better-man-ism, and concentrating on her role as a performative feminist over her role as a critical musician are the two main things, although it's probably worth noting that for all the smart grammatical analysis of the lyrics the author misses the smart, highly specific and referential circularity in the songs on CS and AS. But largely, it gets some good points in. Sample:
Love roots her lyrics in ambivalence, in those dissonant moments where conflicting urges meet and fail to resolve, like oil and water (or, as Cobain once characterized the chemistry between Love and himself: "like Evian water and battery acid"). "When they get what they want/ They never want it again," she sings in "Violet," before she hollers her assent: "Go on take everything/ Take everything/ I want you to." But just when it seems she has settled into the predictable men-take-and-women-give dichotomy, she blurs the distinction with the subtle switch of a pronoun that leaves it unclear whether Love or a male, Cobain-like figure is speaking: "I told you from the start/ Just how this would end/ When I get what I want/ When I never want it again," she intones spookily.
It's also got a way valuable account and interpretation of a recent TV appearance I certainly missed:
Last week, Love appeared on The View in what seemed a bizarre joust for respectability. Looking radiantly healthy—in contrast to her wan mien of recent months—Love lucidly defended herself as the women of The View tried to extract an apology from her. She explained that throwing a microphone stand is a punk-rock gesture like guitar-tossing or crowd-surfing and that male rock stars (she cited Marilyn Manson) often expose themselves in public. Of lifting her shirt for Letterman, she said: "I was being a rock star! I was commenting on the Janet Jackson situation. I was selling rock!" She was, and she wasn't; you get the sense, watching Love, that she's not always in control. But there's a funny irony tangled up in all of this. Where once this kind of authenticity was crucial to rock—and female rock stars understood that the muddy boundary between art and life could lend them a mysterious allure—it's now clear that if you reveal too much, you've become disappointingly unprofessional. Janis Joplin once commented on the public's unwillingness to separate her life and art: "People seem to have a high sense of drama about me. Maybe they think they can enjoy my music more if they think I'm destroying myself." For Love, the inverse seems true.
Nice to see Courtney spelling out the reasoning behind the Letterman flashing thing, which seemed obvious to me but which a lot of people seemed to want to ignore.
But the real gold in the VR thread--which thread is really worth reading, incidentally--is a story on the third page, which appears in a different form in the NY Post. Excerpt:
The plucky 11-year-old daughter of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain has come out swinging in defense of her drug-plagued mom - insisting that Love's outrageous antics are not as bad as Janet Jackson's breast-baring Super Bowl stunt.
Well, I guess I'm buying Blender.
ADDENDUM: DeRo feature article about Courtney that's not too bad.
I've met Frances Bean Cobain twice before: backstage at Lollapalooza in the early '90s, when she was a toddler playing in the grass, and in the Beverly Hills house in spring 2002, when I was writing about Love's celebrated legal feud with her husband's surviving bandmates. Then, Frances bounded into the living room to collect a fiver after she heard her mom curse. "She charges me $5 every time I say the 'f-' word," Love explained at the time.