from the editor: Recently, Kurt Cobain's birth-anniversary came and went. The deceased songwriter would have turned 30 this year (1997). So his birthday doesn't go completely uncelebrated, Raptorial has rummaged through its archives for a three year old live recording of Jello Biafra speaking about Mr. Cobain at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. These words were spoken on April 16, 1994... about a week after Cobain left earth.
(*here is a great article on Alternative Tentacles' history.)
Here, presented in its entirety, in his unique spoken word rambling style, is the transcription of Jello Biafra's piece on Cobain:
Jello Biafra on Kurt Cobain
(at this point someone in the audience yells "Heroin's cool!" to which Jello replies...)
Well, I don't think so.
Especially after I tried it once and felt horrible after the first twenty minutes and never did it again.
But, I figured I'd have to say something, especially after people outside one of these shows were placing bets as to whether or not I'd say anything and all of them assumed I would say something mean. But believe it or not, I considered him a friend and I hope he remembered me the same way.
It meant a lot to me when people said they'd read Nirvana had cited Dead Kennedys as one of their inspirations back in Aberdeen. I've been through Aberdeen two or three times. My main memory is winding up in a flea bag hotel next door in Hoquiam, back on a fear and loathing hippy trip, me and the only other guy in my high school who liked The Stooges took in my mom's car back in 1975. The same trip where we pulled up next to this Mormonoid family in a station wagon on the freeway, outside of Laramie, Wyoming. And I terrorized them by playing puppet with my friend Sam's rather aromatic cowboy boots. Gesturing to the children, talking to them and everything. The mom then reached out in horror and covered her little boys eyes and things. The same trip where we yelled insults at people lined up clear around the block, in little towns, to see 'Jaws'. Which gave us an idea when we got to the beach in Lake Couer de'Lane in Idaho, I rolled down the window at all the swimmers... "SSHHAARRK!!!"..... They started running out of the water! A fresh water lake! Then when they realized what they'd done they started running after us. On TV that night in Hoquiam was the most hilarious pro wrestling match I'd ever seen in my life.
I only met Kurt once at an outdoor benefit in Portland
for the fight against the anti-gay rights amendment that was on the Oregon
ballot. I was touched by him. He seemed a little shell shocked as though
he felt yet another shoe might drop at any time. I know that feeling all
to well. It reminded me of the anti Dead Kennedys backlash in '82 and
'83 when it seemed like the whole underground world was mad at me and
I couldn't do anything right. I would've cracked a lot sooner if I was
in his shoes. Looking back it seems like I've always found a way to pull
the rug out from under myself when the threat of mass success, and the
treadmill and fishbowl existence that comes with it, seems about to take
control of my life away from me.
But Kurt lit up when he told me about a photo he had of Republican Headquarters in flames down in Pasadena. Their show that night was fucking great.
Now I find Nirvana songs stuck in my head again again and again. I think of all the things I wish I could've said or offered to him. Maybe some quality time with my recently deceased, semi-legendary cat who had a habit of sleeping on the heads of many of today's underground icons when they stayed at my house. I'm also more familiar with bad-ass depression than I usually like to publicly let on. One time I came back from tour and found my house stripped, savings bled and my wife, and someone I thought was a friend (whom I bailed out of his own suicide situation)... they were gone. People started showing up at my house for no reason, taking me out to eat, to build fires on the beach. Now I realize they may have banded together to keep an eye on me. You might even call it a 'conspiracy'.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Nobody in Nirvana ever asked me my two cents worth. Why should they? It's just that this has hit me harder than I ever would have expected. People are even calling Alternative Tentacles as if we can do anything to change this. When I broke the news on stage in Detroit, people screamed. An O.D. we were sort of braced for.... but this? This is a cold slap in the face reminder of how it would devastate some people if I ever got the nerve to go through with this myself. One more reason not to own any guns.
Sometimes I want to crawl under some rock way deep in the mountains and never be found. One thing that gets in the way, is I can't bare the thought of letting 'them' win. The undefinable 'them'. At school. At home. In society. I gotta admit that one of the driving reasons I left home and quit college and plunged into punk music was to get revenge on 'them'. For all those times I felt like I was just a punching back to kick around and that I'd never amount to nothing. No. I can't let 'them' win. Besides what if there is a hereafter and it turns out to be even worse?
I'll miss Kurt and I will miss Nirvana. I don't agree with everything they've done, that cave-in to Wal-Mart** for example, but overall they did a good thing. One of the few bands of our day, especially the big ones, who new how to write a good song and had some real soul. Granted, it was their decision and his decision to play ball with the corporate entertainment world and its star making machinery, but I can't help but hate the pimps who pull the switches, who could care less when their machinery grinds people up and destroys them, the ones who know all too well that a dead star is worth more than a live one. It's the biggest entertainment industry suicide since Marilyn Monroe and the feeding frenzy is already well underway. I hope someone down the road remembers he was about the only heavy rock mega star ever to openly support gay rights. I admit, I felt a bit hurt when Kurt hinted in an Advocate interview that I didn't write accessible enough songs to reach beyond the cult fringe. So, to get back at him, in a good natured way, I came up with a tune that.... well might've made a great Nirvana song. I'll probably record it some day.
I know this sounds odd, to some of you, coming from me, but dammit I'll miss the guy.
**Nirvana and Geffen agreed (several weeks before Cobain's death) to alter the back cover art on In Utero and to rename the song 'Rape Me' (changing it to 'Waif Me') in order to get placement in the stores of the Wal Mart chain.
Other Biafra related items...