Saturday, February 20, 2010

Here comes another downer

The word's been out there for some time that Hollywood is planning to produce a movie about Kurt Cobain. I'm not sure what you think of that idea, but please chime in if you care one way or the other. Me, I'm not into sifting through the ashes of another tortured soul who kills himself. These are always so depressing.

In other words: Nevermind.

Here's Exhibit A, and because these are always so convincing you won't need an Exhibit B. (No, it's not the note to the right -- that's Cobain's "farewell" message). Below is the penultimate paragraph from Roger Ebert's review of "The Doors" (1991) which was directed by Oliver Stone and starred Val Kilmer as our hero Jim Morrison (of course you knew that).

The experience of watching "The Doors" is not always very pleasant. There are the songs, of course, and some electrifying concert moments, but mostly there is the mournful, self-pitying descent of this young man into selfish and boring stupor. Having seen this movie, I am not sad to have missed the opportunity to meet Jim Morrison, and I can think of few fates more painful than being part of his support system. The last hour of the film, in particular, is a dirge of wretched excess, of drunken would-be orgies and obnoxious behavior, of concerts in which the audiences wait for hours for the spectacle of Morrison stumbling onstage to fake a few songs or, notoriously, to expose himself.

Now Cobain wasn't wretched excess on stage, but his tragic story has the same pathetic ending. He can't cope with his demons, he dies too young, and the damage is self-inflicted. It won't matter which Oscar-winning screenwriter or director is chosen, the message will be full of static and the ending will suck.

There's also the possibility someone will weave together a compelling cautionary tale about Cobain, blending some powerful music and maybe even classic concert footage and we'll walk out of the theatre saying "Man, I never really knew him but I sure do miss that guy and his music." We'll probably find out soon enough which way it goes.

If we must have another music biopic, how about choosing someone who has some longevity, who might even still be alive making significant contributions to his/her art. Someone like Neil Young or, if you must have a punkish image to work with, Lou Reed. Now there's one that could be shot in black and white.

Or if there must tragic consequences with a tombstone at the end, how about taking another stab at Hank Williams? We have Paul Hemphill's revealing biography "Lovesick Blues" to draw from, and a new pool of actors that will no longer include George Hamilton.

The only reason I bring this up today: It's Kurt Cobain's birthday. He would have 43, but instead he has been deceased for 16 years. May he rest in peace, at least until they bring him back to life on the big screen.

We could have assembled a pretty strong Birthday Band today but now we're all tuckered out. Still, you can imagine the possibilities yourself:

Nancy Wilson (1937): Vocals
Buffy Sainte-Marie (1941): Vocals
Jerome Geils (1946): Guitar, J. Geils Band
Walter Becker (1950): Guitar, Steely Dan
Randy California (1951-97): Guitar, Spirit
Kurt Cobain (1967-94): guitar, vocals, Nirvana


  1. Randy California on your list could be a great subject for a book or movie. He played with Jimi Hendrix and led a very interesting life. And he didn't kill himself, he died heroically in a rip tide saving his son. There's your movie.

  2. Great idea by Davey.
    THe story of Randy his family and Spirit would make a great narrative. Spirit is a very underrated group. Help get Spirit into the Hall of Fame
    go to