Ethan Gold’s Nirvana Cover (and My New Year Ramblings)

I’ve been rather enjoying this – really controlled, well-weighted vocal performance then the fun of hearing the familiar shapes of the song twisted through another instrument. It’s fun! My feeling is that Nirvana’s discography is full of very adaptable songs, quite stripped down shapes that lend themselves well to alteration and aural surgery.

It’s part of his ‘Bedroom Closet Covers’ series – but there’s also an album ‘Songs From a Toxic Apartment’: this is the video for ‘They Turned Away’

And one for ‘To Isis Sleeping’ – a mellower tune with a rather charming video

So! There’s been no posts the last few weeks – is it really touching three weeks since New Year…? It’s been a busy 2016 so far. Long may it continue.

My main rambling has been a piece for Words & Guitars:

Never Ever Gonna Get Old: on the passing of pop stars

I had been intending to soften it but ultimately, what the hey. I’m not denying that age has some lush perks (I enjoyed 27-30 more than 16-27 and I enjoyed 30-35 more than anything before) but we’re living in a fascinating era where, in the next decade to a decade-and-a-half, we’re likely to witness the deaths of most of that generation of musicians who became superstars in the Sixties. An entire origin is about to vanish – and not in photogenic ways. Bowie has done an amazing thing by not just focusing on death in a defiant ‘The Show Must Go On’ way, or an accidental “doesn’t it seem poignant now,” way – but by wrapping his entire last project in the image and words of being a dead man walking. A stark, harsh and honest last mode.

I confess I ended up bored witless of the media coverage of Bowie – it was so cheap. It’s hard not to believe that various news departments were rubbing their hands together with glee; “quick! Crack out the archive images for a clickbait gallery! Start trawling for unrevealing tribute quotations from famous names! Open up a livefeed and shovel the punters’ own sh** back at them!” There’s a Viz feature called Tony Parsehole that pretty much smashes the art of the empty-hearted obituary: and a lot of the endless commentary has followed this model – a few flaccid references to “oh he really changed a lot – oh he wore some outrageous clothes,” all showing, gloriously, a complete lack of engagement with the topic and an absolute determination to hit deadlines and get something up fast. There was little dignified about it all. I’m not saying that many of the comments and articles weren’t heartfelt but there was little that indicated an engagement with Bowie’s work or that offered anything radical in depth – it was a parade of articles saying “isn’t it sad?” Nothing more. Which is unfortunate when Bowie himself ended with such a spirited and revelatory musing on the approach of mortality.

Next month we see what would have been Kurt Cobain’s 49th birthday – odd to think of him as just 20 years shy of the age Bowie and Lemmy departed at.


3 thoughts on “Ethan Gold’s Nirvana Cover (and My New Year Ramblings)”

  1. I agree with your premise, but then, did you really expect anything different? All media coverage is cheap. It’s in its dna.

    You got some great lines into your article, “there’s no escaping the sour milk scent of the human body hitting expiration date.” and “the imagery of teen spirit to ward away creeping death’s day-to-day shade.”

    What I found heartening about his passing was the ubiquitous but seemingly genuine adoration from so many different walks of life. Anyone who didn’t care for Bowie must have had the good sense to keep their mouths shut. It’s a testament to his artistry – his ability to communicate universally – his complete co-option of “outsider” status but also of time working in your favor. As you mention it’s a domain exclusive to only an exalted few. It happens so infrequently that there’s somebody who enjoys such broadly good favor.

    I think Bowie’s pre and post-mortem manipulation of the event is pretty remarkable. He got the last word. How often is that the case? Pretty much never. Kurt did too, but I think there’s more nobility in the way Bowie did it.

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