MONTAGE OF HECK: THE RECORDINGS • KURT COBAIN

by Warren Buchholz –

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

The night had not been kind. All the lights were off in my house when I listened to this album. 120 deaths had been reported so far in France from attacks across the city.  Humanity was vulnerable, and as life pushed to continue, Kurt Cobain’s voice echoed through my headphones in this unheard set of home recordings.

These songs are intimate, warm; and they were most likely never to reach the ears of the world. I feel like I’m impeding on someone else’s space—rifling through his closet, coming across an unmarked Converse box with dozens of tapes inside, and sneaking in listens of someone’s audio diary.  It’s an uneasy and unsettling feeling that does not go away.

This collection made me wish for that acoustic Nirvana album Kurt was planning before he died. The unbridled emotion and raw energy felt in some of these songs, like his cover of “And I Love Her”, “Letters to Frances”,  and “Do Re Mi” made my heart begin to flutter. I was there, in the same room, engaged and responsive to how he was playing.

The man churned out simple yet effectively catchy tunes that sometimes had powerful emotion plastered behind them. I am a huge advocate behind focusing on the process and progression of art rather than the final piece, so to hear raw recordings of some of his songs was a treat, even with how wrong it felt. But to hear the process of going from tape recorder to studio recorder, it is cool to hear.

The main point to take away from this album is that he had fun. He had naïve energy behind these songs, and it was beautiful to take the trip with him. Take these songs for what they are and just have fun. There are moments of deep darkness that you can feel to your bones, then there are moments of pure unadulterated joy.

Listen to this album once, then stick it in an old shoe box and slide it under the bed. Embrace what you’ve heard and go about your life. Not everything needs to be heard more than one time, and there’s a prolific yet simple beauty in all that.

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