Questions: Brown Cow/Brown Towel

You’ll have to forgive me today, I’m on holiday but normal service will be resumed on Monday.

Tonight, myself and a friend are off to the Scottish Storytelling Centre ( to see the Annual Scottish Tall Tales Storytelling Competition which promises the “hilarious, mysterious or just plain ridiculous – ferocious fibs and fables performed live on stage by Scotland’s finest tellers, then you decide who wins the lucrative accolade of Oscar the Leprechaun!” I mean…Wha? It’s perfect, I love a good storyteller and every good story deserves a little exaggeration.

Now, very tangentially, reading through the lists of minor league bands and performances taking place in Edinburgh and Glasgow this evening, and noting the storytelling event made me recall reading the Nirvana Live Guide and loving all the random bands who filled Nirvana’s early days. Similarly, it made me wonder about the Brown Cow/Brown Towel performance – if you want to feel what that early show, the second time Kurt Cobain had apparently been on a venue stage, felt like, just look in your local paper, check the local listings. There’ll be a handful of hopefuls making a “joyous noise unto the lord” night after night with no precise clue what they’re doing, hyped up and nervous, just going for it without letting the fear of embarrassment hold them back.

The questions I have about the performance in question revolve around the words; Kurt Cobain recited poetry over background noise, I wonder how much of this ‘poetry’ was stripped from songs we already know of on the Fecal Matter demo? I wonder how much went onto reuse in the early Nirvana recordings where storytelling songs, songs with a longer coherent narrative thread (Polly, Floyd the Barber, Paper Cuts) were relatively plentiful? I also assume that his recitation was less a case of spoken word seriousness and instead revealed the attempts to speak in the tongues of others that had been revealed on Fecal Matter where he, for the last time, noteably spoke in a character’s voice, or the continued vocal experimentation that was still alive a year and a half later on the January 23, 1988 recordings.

Anyways, questions…Always more questions…No answers here but I thought I’d share what runs through my head and the kind of pondering that leads to some of the posts I end up whacking up here.


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