A fun and entertaining sideline presented to me by Jeremy Keene – thank you fella! At about the three minute mark of this neat little interview with Duff McKagan there’s a mention of the famous room at the Marco Polo Hotel. Duff points out the echo of a song by punk band GBH:
The thought therefore occured that maybe the room was wrong but there’s definitely no fifth floor or room 526 at the motel – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a knowing echo. Cobain’s work is strewn with puns on other words and twisted meanings. It’s an intriguing possibility that, even when at his lowest, there was room for a sardonic smile when it came to choosing the room.
I’ve mentioned before how the final months of Cobain’s life are filled with echoes of his past – that he seems to have been looking backwards – a 1984 punk track isn’t out of place at all. Examples? Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam had been played only twice after its heyday in 1991 until it reappeared at MTV Unplugged; similarly Where Did You Sleep Last Night had cropped up only once or twice a year since 1989 before becoming a landmark TV performance for the band; in 1994 only two new songs featured in Nirvana set-lists but one was My Sharona by the Knack – a band Cobain had pointed to back in 1991-1992 as a comparison for Nirvana- while the other was My Best Friend’s Girl by the Cars, played at Nirvana’s last show and reputedly one of the first songs he ever learned; the suicide note reference to ‘dear Boddah’ tying to a childhood imaginary friend; calling his grandfather out of the blue, for the first time in ages, just to talk. It made sense too that key tour partners in Europe were his teenage favourites, the Buzzcocks, and perennial supporters, inspirations and Aberdeen buddies, the Melvins – his desire to support and see favourites was of course on display but was another part of this apparent cocoon of old comforts. The fact he mainly did it with music and with family is an indication of the twin poles of salvation he’d looked to.