Watching the first half of a Kurt Cobain documentary suggested by @agoraphobeblog. I heard about it, but at first I had no interest in really seeing it because Nirvana’s story has been told many times, and it leads to the whole “I’m from the Pacific Northwest, how come no one has done a documengary on Tom Price of the U-Men/Gas Huffer?” Then I thought you know, someone recommended this doc to me, I should check it out. Initially, I scanned through the movie and thought it was cool. I didn’t have the audio on, so I didn’t realize it was essentially Cobain’s voice taken from various interviews throughout his life, mixed with various images throughout Aberdeen and Seattle, Washington, all trying to create a picture of who he was and why he became who he became. I like it so far, but I had to write this for a reason.
They’re at the point in the movie where Cobain is still in Aberdeen, going to high school, talking about how he started to have a “fuck you” attitude towards the world. While I had a fuck-you attitude, it wasn’t in a “I’m going to bring in a gun and kill people” as Cobain suggested he might have done. I just wanted to get the fuck out of this place. But as Cobain, via recorded interview, talks about how isolated he was in high school, you hear guitar feedback, a bass melody, and booming drums going on in the background, and I immediately knew what it was. Cobain mentions how he had hoped to meet at least one kid with a goofy haircut, just to be able to have one friend he could relate to. I had hoped to see some kid with a grin and not-yet-big hair walking down the school hall, but they didn’t get that hokey. However, I thought “aaah, I want to hear him talk about meeting Roger Osborne.” No luck, but it was cool that it was acknowledged in sound. I had a shit-eating grin when this was being discussed as “Eyes Flys” was playing. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!
ADDITION: A few minutes after writing this, I went back to watching it. I’m thinking “okay, hearing Melvins in the movie and making no mention of Roger Osborne? C’mon now.” But as soon as the film started showing shots of Montesano, Washington, I knew it was about to happen. You hear Cobain talk about how he started to play guitar and become obsessed with it, creating his vision of what punk rock might sound like. He then said he moved to Montesano, and that’s when he met Buzz, a/k/a Roger Osborne, b/k/a King Buzzo. When Buzz made him a few punk compilation tapes, that’s when it began. A screenshot from the movie. The photo had been used on the bootleg Melvana 7” single.
ADDITION #2: The movie eventually leads to the question pertaining to Chris/Krist Novoselic. Cobain, through interview, talks about how he wanted to form a group with the guy in high school who was already doing stage performances. No interest from him. After the move to Montesano, he made the Fecal Matter tape with Melvins drummer Dale Crover. That tape was heard by Novoselic, who told him the tape was pretty good and that perhaps they should get together. But that’s not what I liked. All of a sudden you see a truck filled with wood logs driving up a highway. That highway is the I-5. You hear Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around The Bend” as a song of celebration. It was hilarious to me, because that’s very much a small town and Pacific Northwest joke. When is Creedence not on the radio. The use of the song and the image is to suggest that both Cobain and Novoselic will eventually be heading “up” around the bend and towards the Emerald City. Damn loggers.
ADDITION #3: Done. I feel it was very well done, far better than what I had expected when I first heard about this. I did like the visual reference to Dick’s Drive-In Burger’s. It was Sir Mix-A-Lot who said “Dick’s is the place where the cool hang out”, so it seemed that along with Cobain telling his life, they were trying to string various iconic images that immediately bring to mind Seattle.
However, some of the images, while very much “Seattle”, should not have been in there. For example:
The monorail is coming from the Seattle Center and you see a part of the EMP building on the left. The Experience Music Project building was not up until 2000, six years after Cobain’s death.
There are some great shots, both inside and out, of the Seattle Central Library. As nice as this place is, this building did not exist until 2004, ten years after Cobain’s death.
However, I did enjoy this shot for personal reasons.
It’s shot from the monorail, obviously, but when you were on the street (222 5th Avenue North), seeing McDonald’s meant you were about two blocks away from Tower Records on the corner of 5th and Mercer. (There is now a QFC in its place, although if you wish to satisfy your record store needs, you can go to Silver Platters, across the street from where Tower used to be.)
Nonetheless, Kurt Cobain: About A Son is pretty good for what it is, and works because it’s not your typical documentary. It’s all from the mouth of Cobain, sharing his life story and touching on what could have been had he not died.