When the band seems to dither over the last song, one female audience member yells, "<0x2009>'Rape Me'!" "Is that Kennedy?" someone asks, referring to the noxious alterna-VJ of the day. "I don't think MTV will let us play that," Cobain replies with an insouciant, knowing air. If you're still looking for that classic Gen X cynicism, look no further than MTV, which seems to have ditched music programming in general.
So why did Cobain sing for his TV dinner in the first place? Was it simply because In Utero (DGC, 1993) wasn't selling well? Just months before his passing, Cobain already looked like another pop idol prepping to die young and leave a gorgeous corpse. Or not. Nonetheless, here, bird-boned with downcast eyes, he edges closer to that beautiful boy outlined in Elizabeth Peyton's paintings, ready to assume his place in a pantheon of perpetually doodled, iconographic heartthrobs, right after Jim Morrison and James Dean. Nirvana was a great band but as so many know who were there, cognizant, and occasionally coherent when Nevermind (Geffen, 1991) hit, there were lots of great bands. Ever the authentic article, Cobain knew this as much as any other, which is why he always gave a hand to forebears, bringing on the Meat Puppets (much to the disappointment of MTV, according to an accompanying DVD short) and sporting a T-shirt of the SF all-female art-punk combo Frightwig for this performance. Did it simply take Cobain's dramatic death to, as an MTV executive dork opines in the short, turn an "interesting, eclectic performance" into "a masterpiece"? Neither of these spooked offerings really fits that descriptor, but for the faithful they might do till another comes along. *
KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON
Opens Nov. 30
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