Flowers of Romance and Bathroom Destruction

Brett (Beautiful Day) commented that Flowers of Romance would have been another good choice to include on the cover shot for the Dark Slivers book – Dan808 replied too pointing out how curious it was that “Cobain picked that as one of his favourite albums rather than PiL’s Metal Box or PiL’s debut.” I can see a connection to a topic I briefly comment on in relation to the song Beans in the Post Mersh chapter of the book.

This is a argumentative theory, not a fact. But Kurt Cobain wanted to include Beans on Bleach – it would have been there if not for others intervening. While reciting the reason for the exclusion, there’s not been much desire to ask ‘why would Kurt Cobain want to include this song?’ I think it’s similar to Axl Rose’s decision to wedge a similar scrap of dubious quality at the end of Use Your Illusion II, My World. In each case, sticking a solo track at the end of your band’s album is a declaration of ownership and authority over the album and therefore the band – everyone else is submerged in the group identity, you aren’t, you’re allowed to show your experiments and stand out as an individual. Flowers of Romance was a difficult album for PiL, until that point the music had been essentially the creation of Keith Levine and Jah Wobble with John Lydon confined to lyrics. On this album, Wobble had left, Levine contributed but was a heroin-induced wreck, so Lydon dominated the music too. To mark it even more thoroughly as HIS property he gave it a title that tied it to a very early Sex Pistols song (a jam track they used to use in various forms to open shows). So, if looked at as the singer’s declaration of independence and dominance, rather than simply as a musical composition, Flowers of Romance seems to be an album that would resonate with Mr. Cobain.

As an aside, the timing of that list of favourite albums is interesting. The final album on it is PJ Harvey’s Dry, released in June 1992. So, the famous list of fifty albums was created either in late 1992 or sometime in 1993. Given Kurt was very much off doing his own thing and divorcing himself from the band (see the piece from earlier this week on trends in press coverage) its a neat coincidence with the concept above – but I do think a coincidence. It’s also a nice coincidence with the whole issue of the bathtub filling with sewage and wrecking his stuff.

Also, I’m interested in the unknowing, the things that can never be truly known. What we do with them is we stitch a narrative over the top of the gap to connect known events and thus cover the absence in between.  I’ve talked a lot on this blog (see Killing Nirvana Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 plus Trending Kurt Cobain’s Creativity) about the nosedive in Nirvana’s activity post-fame. The incident that I took as the inspiration for the cover is of deep significance to that theme.

Kurt Cobain stated that he lost a number of notebooks with all their lyrical ideas. There’s little further comment on the incident in the nearly two years left to run so its impossible to tell how much was lost, how many potential lines or new song ideas went missing in that event. It creates an absence; Kurt Cobain never publically assesses the damage caused or the quantity of work he couldn’t recover. We therefore can’t see whether Kurt wrote more than he appears to have done in the first half of 1992. Its still unlikely there was much (given overall trends, tours, TV, press, marriage, heroin…) but the survival of those journals and notes could have meant a Nirvana that had twenty new songs left in them rather than the dozen or so they do come out with.

Anyways, just to show I’m paying attention to the comments. 🙂

And Dan808 – yes, if you want a copy of the book, drop me at email, and I’ll put you on the pre-order list. No payment needed until I can confirm postage back to you and you decide you’re cool with it. Stay good!


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