Time has been running away with me and I feel soiled making such a bad pun in the title. There was a chance to meet Kris Sproul, one half of the esteemed duo running the Nirvana Live Guide, but our schedules simply don’t cross — darn! I’ll say it publically and with hand in oath-taking position on heart, no, sorry, heart is on the other side? OK, adjusted, hand now on heart; Mike Ziegler and Kris Sproul are among the half-dozen most committed Nirvana fans who have done the most to locate material, spread information and to keep alive the excitement surrounding the band. God-like status in my eyes.
Two individuals of similarly significant stature — I don’t do ‘people ranking’ — are these peachy-keen and so sweet people who were kind enough to join me for breakfast; Monsieur Jack Endino and Mademoiselle Gillian G. Gaar. Note that they’re both far more photogenic than me, I just can’t do cameras…
My view on talking to people is always the same; I have the absolute right to ask a question because that’s self-expression, but I have no right to expect or demand an answer because that’s an imposition placed upon others — it’s their right to choose to reply. Also, as I’m not a professional journalist — and therefore addicted to turning life into conflict — or a commercial writer — and therefore needing a touch of soap opera and controversy to penetrate the awful current climate in which already threadbare wages for the majority of authors have been cut even further (Kindle means consumers can access more books, it doesn’t mean anyone can read more than they already did — it’s great for Amazon but a death-knell for living on writing) its been kinda nice drifting around the North-West because I’m just chatting on with people, no deeper motivation. I’m more stuck awkwardly unsure what to say to people beyond “wow…Gillian…Err…You’re the best writer around on Nirvana…Errrr…Jack? I’ve known your name since I was 13 year old…You’re kinda a bit like the sphinx or the statue of liberty in terms of my references to stuff that’s cooler in real life.”
Where was I going? Sorry, lost thread. Anyways, I didn’t particularly have any questions to ask of them and I would have felt gawky muttering spit-flecked drooling requests; “tell me what it was like touching Kurt Cobain…?” / “Did you really get to fondle the original Fecal Matter demo?” So, though some may see this as a lost opportunity I was more interesting in just sitting around early one morning, with two people I admire, enjoying the company and the chat and agreeing that we all think Silvio Berlusconi is the most horrendous individual on the planet and that Italy is a semi-functioning anarchy. It’s why I love Italy, it makes a remarkable amount of the world feel sane.
Jack is a straight-talking, polite and pleasant man with a wonderfully dry sense of a humour — a smile moves his entire face it’s so full. He chuckled at me referring to certain other Nirvana fans as obsessive given he’s seen my predilection for spreadsheets of Nirvana data. Gillian is more gently spoken, instantly warm and friendly from first minute, with such a mind for detail and apposite questions — seeing what was missed, where conversation had jumped a step — I’d say an academic bent except it has the kind of sharpness I’d relate more to a detective. That’s a compliment and I was honoured to be permitted to stand and scan over her phenomenal music and book collection; this lady has such immaculate taste! Check her new work on Elvis; a much underrated figure among modern music fans, as she said; “he missed out on recording a lot of classic material he would have been brilliant with because once his career nosedived copyright holders were unwilling to sell to him.” He was a man who loved music, who may not have written much but was able to haul together good collaborators who made stunning and definitive readings of certain tracks. Heck, this guy wrote in “In The Ghetto”, my favourite song at age six (sharing first place with “Centrefold”.)
Anything that might amuse Nirvana fanatics? Well, I hope Jack doesn’t mind me saying that some time ago, he didn’t specify when and i didn’t ask, he heard a recording of the January 16, 1993 concert in Brazil and in his words “it’s horrible, no one needs to hear that.” Sounds like the known information is correct; an aggressively sullen Cobain ignored the disgust of his band-mates and simply stood there stoned and barely competent for a horrendously lengthy period of time. Apparently even the covers are kinda nasty in a way…Shudders…Isn’t it awful that the completist in me still wants to hear it just once even if only to say “yup, he’s right…”
With reference to the In Utero box-set, again, what the hey. Jack confirmed that the Nirvana barrel is almost entirely scraped and that many long days had gone in to ploughing through tapes. The January 1991 master tape is apparently lost; the material exists on a separate tape done so the band could hear the songs in versions as close to instrumentals as possible. Jack seems to live a charming life in which he works hard during the gray seasons then heads off in search of better climes and more fun during the warm spells – out touring Jack Endino’s Earthworm and generally making the most of life…A nice balance.
Anyways, a pleasant breakfast outing — Americans, do you realise that savoury biscuits never made it to the U.K.? I love these things, the last time I had them was in Washington D.C. at the home of Ronnie and Debbie, by favourite Americans, in April 2003, meaning I’ve been scoffing them wherever possible here. Biscuits, in sausage gravy, with scrambled egg and potato, in the company of two extremely pleasant people whose works have given me tonnes of enjoyment over the years. The least I could do is shell out a few dollars to buy breakfast given what they’ve given for so long.