I’ve been listening to my Hole records a lot over the last couple of days. I had a conversation with a friend at work the other day about Miss Courtney Love. He is not a fan. I, on the other hand, have been a fan of Courtney Love since Christ was a cowboy. I get really defensive when people trash her. I have a loyalty to her, whereby I feel I must defend her talents. As a teenager, I idolized Courtney because she was this badass rock-chick that didn’t seem to care what people said or thought about her. And indeed she reached great heights. What was so inspiring about Love in her grunge years was she never attempted to cop a pose of any sort; she let it all out in a terrific and often terrifying spectacle.
In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young’s classic refrain: “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” On Celebrity Skin, Love responds to her dearly departed: “When the fire goes out you better learn to fake / It’s better to rise than fade away.” In this lyric we can read her survival strategy. Trauma affects us all differently; in Love, it manifested itself in an about-face, a cover-up of the unruly emotions she traded on. Love has always been a woman of extremes, so it probably should not have been so surprising that in constructing her new protective shell, around the time that she became a movie star, she went to the other extreme, coming up with a sanitized version of herself that was so squeaky clean and perfectly packaged it was hard to reconcile with the loose cannon of a mere few years earlier.
Over the last few years, she has gone through ups and downs- been in and out of rehab. I am truly sad for her that she hasn’t been able to get her addiction problems completely under control or her life back on track because I really think that she’s a brilliant woman. Live Through This and Celebrity Skin are two of my favorite albums of all time. I have so much history with those two records, a long standing love affair with the music of Miss Love. Her words and voice have gotten me through some rough times. She speaks honestly and with such articulation. Passion breathes inside the depth of a tortured heart. Matthew Good wrote, “one thing that will never change is that that which touches us remains in our hearts and memories forever. Through music we document our lives, our loves and losses, our trials and tribulations, and our happiness. It is, without question, one of the most powerful and unifying forces known to man.” That is precisely why I have such a ferocious love for music.
One of my favorite memories is being in the moshpit at Thunderbird Stadium for Edgefest back in 1999. It was the ultimate lineup: The Matthew Good Band and Hole were playing the same show. It was my dream come true; my two favorite bands. I was in strappy sandals, capri pants and a little tank top. I had my tiny, over the shoulder purse. I was your classic 18 year old prep from the suburbs. Although I was dressed unlike any of the “real hardcore moshpitters,” I was willing to do anything to get as close to Courtney Love as possible. She came on stage and I did everything in my power to get right up there. And I did. I almost got trampled to death and lost my purse, but I was front and center when Miss Love pulled up her top and flashed her perfect breasts to the crowd. She is so passionate and in her element on stage. Absolutely incredible to see live.
Say what you want about Courtney Love, but she is one hell of a talented songwriter and dammit, that woman can rock.