Kurt Cobain Musical: Jazz Hands on Broadway


Phew…A nice quotation from Madame Love putting to rest the talk of Nirvana musicals and also pointing out a desire to prevent the wholesale exploitation of Kurt Cobain’s compositions. As usual, there’s a tendency to attribute exploitative ideas to Courtney Love — not helped by the tinge of self-righteousness in most comments from her regarding Nirvana — which seems untrue and unfair. The storm around the musical idea blew up during a court action last year and was solidly knocked on the head. A similar wave took place a few years back with Courtney Love apparently unhappy at discovering the use of Cobain’s music on the Guitar Hero; she was fairly vociferous; “this is necrophilic, this is vile…for the record I did not approve Kurt’s avatar for Guitar Hero 5…I think Kurt would despise this game alone let alone this avatar.”

Of course, in each case, there’s a counter-argument in the ever muddy waters around Mrs Love. In the case of Guitar Hero 5, Activision were pretty plain-spoken; ““Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain’s likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero 5.” Similarly, in the case of the musical, it was Courtney’s manager who mentioned the idea. Certainly, despite any anti-corporate vibes people might want to chuck around (and that I do on occasion), I can believe a corporation buying rights far more than I can buy the idea of them acting illicitly and opening themselves up to a law suit.

Which all leaves me in two minds about the entire business of the use of Kurt Cobain’s estate. It’s very true that full scale conversion of his works into commercial library music for product placement and enslavement hasn’t, as yet, taken place. There’s barely been more than an occasional glimpse of Nirvana’s sound let alone Kurt Cobain’s image near a major product and yet, without clearer records from the present custodians it’s hard to tally what has been turned down or refused, and therefore hard to see whether it’s a lack of demand or a lack of willingness to sell that is creating that scenario.

I have a suspicion that most brands aren’t entirely sure about wedding themselves to a man associated, in the popular mind, as much with heroin-fuelled self-destruction, as with potent distillations of youth energy. Still, least there’s no equivalent of Keith Richards schilling for Louis Vuitton — a move that sticks in my head so well that I twitch with disgust anytime I see anyone carrying something with their logo.


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