Please imagine the first paragraph of this post as a morass of colourful swearing interrupted by attempts to draw breath and come up with something that beats the imagination of the previous elaborate expletive. It was looking ever more likely these past few years that the surviving members of Nirvana (version circa 1990-1993) were ever more likely to get together more formally. A charitable examination would compare it to the period of time it took Johnny Rotten to become comfortable playing Sex Pistols’ songs while on tour with Public Image Ltd, then the ongoing time before the surviving Sex Pistols were able to get back on stage together. Alternatively, perhaps the span of time prior to Jimmy Page and Robert Plant getting together for the No Quarter collaboration and then the, eventually, stage appearances of the remnants of Led Zeppelin. It takes a while before one’s own past feels like a costume one would wish to inhabit again.
On the other hand, a less charitable view would be that gazing into one’s past happens once one’s inspiration, one’s vision of the future, runs dry. Kurt Cobain is a fair example of that (in my view) given the covers he played, the originals he (apparently) was practising in his basement, the calls to family members not seen in a decade, addressing the suicide note to his childhood imaginary friend… Again, Johnny Rotten is a good example — by the time he began singing the odd Sex Pistols’ song he had shed the whole of the first (and best) edition of PiL and was about to start the long decline in PiL’s creative energies that led eventually to the Sex Pistols reprise. In the case of Foo Fighters…With all due respect to a really cool bloke, it’s a long time since Foo Fighters set the world alight musically and a while since they had a new musical idea. It’s understandable, to me, why Dave Grohl might be open to looking back to Nirvana. Krist has barely been involved in music in years yet has recently looked like a man more than happy to acknowledge his part in the most important rock band of the past few decades. Paul McCartney meanwhile is a very pleasant bloke, a surprisingly underrated musical and lyrical talent compared to his former Beatles’ comrade John Lennon, and a willing collaborator with anyone going. But. He’s also a guy with a voice now on its last legs if the Olympics 2012 performance is anything to go by and one who hasn’t had a genuinely fresh musical thought since before Nirvana even existed.
I have a feeling the story is being over-hyped; a one-off charity performance with celebrity friends (see the Living Like a Rock Star post from last week) likely consisting of a couple of the softer-edged Nirvana tracks, a smattering of Foo Fighters songs plus some Beatles classics is a perfectly worthy endeavour but, no, it isn’t a reformation. And in the end, it’s harmless. Given Kurt’s respect for The Beatles, having Paul McCartney sing is songs would probably tickle his ego no end. The fact that it turns Nirvana into a slightly fluffy cabaret act doesn’t bear thinking about…Just focus on the money for a good cause and pray no one gets it into their heads to call it Nirvana, or, worse, to persist with it beyond this one-off display.