An immediate apology for flippantly using the term ‘birds’ just to come up with a slightly more catchy title to what is a relatively flippant bit of data-play. As a proviso it’s safe to say that this post isn’t entirely serious — it’s merely a tumescent growth that arose from the work done this week on Kurt Cobain and the subject of his living arrangements. There’s a risk in the title, of course, of suggesting that one or another individual could be held ‘responsible’ for whatever peak or fall occurred in Kurt’s creativity — as I’ve made clear before (see the “www.nirvana-legacy.com/2012/11/20/if-she-floats-in-defense-of-courtney-love” post) I genuinely don’t believe anyone other Kurt Cobain was responsible for these trends.
Having looked at the matter of where Kurt was when he wrote the majority of his songs, I wanted to examine who was his key, official, partner during these periods of time. As a second disclaimer, I’m doing this because I’m feeling playful; as an exercise it’s a perfect example of how any data can be compared to any other data whatsoever without leading to enlightenment or meaning — why do it then? Sheer curiosity. Not everything has to lead somewhere or mean something to be worth taking a crack at.
Discounting Mary Lou Lord who apparently backed up Kurt’s statements that they had never been romantically involved, Kurt Cobain was attached to three individuals between early 1987 and his death; Tracy Marander, Tobi Vail and Courtney Love. In each case, the relationships have been reduced in the retelling — to dependence, one-way head-over-heels, to mutually destructive passion — which probably has nullified any sense of the enjoyment and pleasure taken from all three. That’s not uncommon, question most people about their ex-partners or judge the relationship in the rear-view mirror and they end up being judged by the outcome not the time-specific experience, which is a shame.
Tracy was Kurt’s first real girlfriend and lasted from around January 1987 until May 1990 — 41 months. Tobi was the whirlwind in the middle making it less than six months from May to November 1990. Courtney arrived as a permanent fixture in October 1991 — 30 months:
Now…What did Kurt Cobain do during those periods of time?
A solid victory for the time spent in Olympia with Tracy Marander but, as usual, fun to look at the percentages also:
Told you it was fun to look. Suddenly it seems that the periods of domestic stability didn’t come close to the rough n’ tumble of Tobi and her loss. So, if I felt like being cynical I’d say “guys, if you want to make things happen in life — ditch the comfy woman!” But I’m only teasing. The coincidence of Kurt Cobain’s freedom, solitude, non-drug addiction, favourite drummer, major label shot and so forth all made late 1990-early 1991 a massive time for Kurt Cobain. What we’re looking at is a flaw in the data; it’s unclear how many of the songs I’ve placed in the second half of 1990 were in fact created prior to Kurt being dumped by Tobi, just as it’s unclear how many of the songs written in the first half of 1991 were finalised before Courtney’s arrival.
Sighhhhh…All this work just to conclude that not everything gives a meaningful correlation and that statistics are indeed the playthings of the data devil. Oh, because my friend asked (thank you Josephine! This one’s for you!), here’s the full record of Kurt Cobain’s known dalliances with the female of the species, as noted in the book Heavier Than Heaven, just for her. And yes, it feels voyeuristic and intrusive listing all this but for the sake of completism:
Addendum: Cheers to Selena for raising this. The summer 1983 incident is controversial. Buzz Osborne has suggested its completely untrue – meanwhile it’s been cited twice including a full audio recording of Cobain seen in Montage Of Heck. Unfortunately, despite the ‘story telling format’ of the audio recording, despite Buzz’s reservations regarding whether public shaming in school happened at all, it’s impossible to say to what extent it was just a bizarre fantasy by Cobain – or, alternately, based on some personal experience. There’s no evidence determining that Buzz’s word should be credited over and above Cobain’s voice. Either way it’s one heck of story and pretty disturbing if it’s an invented tale of sexual discomfort, manipulation, inability to perform, shame, etc.
Anyways, context: this was a throwaway post written in December 2013. It’s neither scientific nor particularly interesting. The core of this blog is about the music of Nirvana and that’s where the heart is.