Being an eternal Big Dumb Rock Guy, I almost immediately found their Music BBS, and since Prodigy was still operating on a flat-fee system back then, took some time to find where simpatico people hung out. I found two. The Dylan boards and The Replacements boards. Almost immediately I made some friends, found community and traded on-line barbs. In fact, I made such good friends that I never canceled -- the 'mats board (MUSIC 1 BBS | ALTERNATIVE ROCK (L-Z) | REPLACEMENTS . . ) is still a great place to hang out. Some of the best and most intelligent rock music discussion I've ever engaged in is on the much-maligned Prodigy. So put that in your pipes and smoke it, all you Net.snobs!
Anyways, there was a point in the Spring of 1994 when I, having finally found the Net (in the text-based presence of the soon-to-be-in-the-where-are-they-are-now-file Delphi) (what can I say, I was still living in service provider-deficent Fresno) several months prior, was going to give Prodigy up. Prodigy (or P$) had instituted their hourly charges, and both the Dylan and 'mats boards seemed to be dying. Besides, I was, er, between jobs, and thinking very seriously of getting of Fresno and needed to save every penny I could.
Then Kurt killed himself.
What follows is kind of an experiment. When I found out the news, I wrote my thoughts and posted on both places. The discussion was so intense that I saved all of the posts. The fact that I was limited to about 600 words per post only sharpened my usually tangental writing. To preserve the flavor of the original posts, I'm using the <pre> tag, which I normally consider kind of a cop-out.
This starts with the original post, and all of my responses on both boards, in chronological order. I think they tell the story of my reaction; and, more importantly, my reaction to other people's reactions.
=============== Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: ALL Date: 04/08 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 8:41 PM "What else can I be/all apologies" -- Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain never got a chance to make his IMAGINE. You're gonna read and hear a lot of Lennon/Cobain comparisons in the next few days--which is appropriate, but a little disingenuous. The worlds which spawned the Beatles and Nirvana, while seperated by only a generation, might as well have been different dimensions. But since NEVERMIND is the X (my) generations SGT. PEPPER--the album that changed the pop world forever (and we aren't just talking about grunge here--no more than you can reduce the impact of SGT PEPPER to psychedelia), that completely turned pop music upside down, and crystallized us, if only for a few moments. But I ain't gonna convince any Boomers about Nirvana, any more than they could convince their parents about the Beatles. But Lennon's death always fascinated me, though it ever affected me emotionally--maybe his best work was still in front of him, maybe not. But he was my Dad's age, and he was writing about his life, not mine. Kurt Cobain was my age, and in his ellipitical style, his concerns echoed my concerns. "Here we are now/Entertain us/I feel stupid and contagious." I've never had an artist my age whose art affected me as much as his did die on me. All of those albums and songs and concerts wrenched away forever. I never even got to see them: I was finally going to go to a Lollpalooza this year cos they were playing. Now I know how a lot of people felt about John Lennon. This bites. I called my friend Tim in London, and he--like so many of us--was saddened and shocked, but not particularly surprised. In some respects Nirvana were victims of not so much their success, but the anti-success tenets of the underground from which they were spawned. For them to get this big--stadiums of people singing "Rape Me," a highly personal song about his stardom--was almost a betrayal of principles. Everybody wants as many people to hear as much of their music as possible, they just don't want to put up with all of the stuff that surrounds it, and if a band gets as big as Nirvana, they're automatically assumed to have "sold out," whatever that means. A stupid and pointless backlash from former supporters. Ack. Didn't he realize that by offing himself he's forever enshrined himself with the dread "spokesman for his generation" tag he's always derided. Ohwellwhatevernevermind, --barefoot jim =============== Reply 3 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: DAVE WOLF Date: 04/09 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 6:09 PM Yes and no. See, the sick thing about the indie music scene is that "instant" success like Nirvana's is to be treated like the anti-christ. This is not a mind-set I agree with--BTW, but the second Nirvana started getting heavy MTV play, former fans, unwilling to share the band with the great unwashed, started screaming sell-out. I don't think they dreamed of the success at all. They came from a totally different mind-set: 1000s of bands in the 80s and 90s put out commercially viable albums which were totally ignored by radio and MTV--jeeze, The Replacements and Husker Du were doing basically the same thing as Nirvana without any comparable success. The point being: there was no way Kurt Cobain could have possibly envisioned selling that many records and having his twisted personal life suddenly under microscopic scrutiny. There was no precedent for a band from that scene doing what they did. Only REM, and it took almost a decade. And when Nirvana did hit that success, they found themselves cut off from the only support they ever knew because the indie scene is so fickle and constantly needing to out-cool itself. I've always hated that. So to use your analogy--i don't think he made his bed, I think an evil charwoman from hell short-sheeted him. My generation doesn't need a martyr any more than we needed a spokesman. This bites. --barefoot jim =============== Reply 3 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: KATHY SHINE Date 04/09 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 6:12 PM Thanks, Kathy, Thanks, Lori. You know, the fact that there are some people too bloody cool to show sorrow is partly why I think he could never deal with his success. That evil evil indie "hipper than thou" 'tude. I'm sure alt.music.alternative on the Net is raging with this right now, and I'm not sure if I wanna deal with it. =============== Reply 10 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: GARY STILL Date: 04/10 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 12:23 PM Ack. I think suicide is the coward's way out. Always have, always will. I also think Lennon's murder was way more "tragic," cos Mark David Chapman was a nut case who wasn't sure if he was Holden Caulfield or John Lennon. Boy talk about your fans taking you out. But but but--what I am mourning is all of the great songs and records he's never going to write. Period. And if you want me to say it, I'll say it--I don't think John Lennon, as an entity, was any more or less a great songwriter than Kurt Cobain could have become, or already was. I'm not talking about the Beatles as an entity or whether Cobain was a moral weakling -- though Lennon's lost weekend was nothing if not an extended trip down suicide road. There are people who romanticize Lennon because he was murdered. I don't. There are people who will romanticize Cobain because he killed himself. I won't. As far as I'm concerned (and this is along the lines of the discussion of seperating art from the artist we had a few months ago), I still hear the songs and music the same way. I was five years old when SGT PEPPER came out. I was 29 when NEVERMIND came out, and suddenly the punk rock I'd loved for years and years topped the charts. Jeeze, which event do you think affected me more? Hint: I don't believe in nostalgia. Even if I do believe in respecting and appreciating the past. Sigh. And yeah, I'm a big guy and yeah, I'm unemployed and I'm afraid of everything. But as my brother Joe wrote "Face your fears and watch 'em die." I knew when I brought this topic up here I'd get a firestorm. Good. I need it, so I can work this anger and frustration out of my system. And I await even more disbelief that I can possibly draw the analogies and comparisions I have. --barefoot jim =============== Reply 7 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: JOSH VESSEY Date: 04/10 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 12:30 PM You're right, Josh. We all have the tendency to iconize these people. I'm also currently getting slammed on my beloved Dylan subject (Rock Music A-L) for daring to compare Cobain to John Lennon. I don't know how big of a Nirvana fan I was--these things are always dodgy to quantify, but I did love his songs. Sigh. =============== Reply 11 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: GARY STILL Date: 04/10 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 12:34 PM Of course, the real reason I liked Nirvana was Dave Grohl's big slamming backbeat. =============== Reply 11 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: ANNE PAGANO Date: 04/11 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 1:12 PM Sigh. I compare SGT PEPPER to NEVERMIND only in terms of their impact on the overall scene. I totally consider NEVERMIND a better album (not to mention THE BEATLES, RUBBER SOUL, ABBEY ROAD, REVOLVER and LET IT BE)--it's one of my favorite albums by anyone ever, and probably my most listened-too CD to boot. As far as Lennon/Cobain comparisons, I'm looking simply in terms of having somebody taken away whose music meant a lot to me. Murder is more "tragic" than suicide, especially when you compare one person being killed by a crazed fan to another killing himself at least partially crazed because he has fans.I dunno, I've heard nothing from the note. But killing yourself is not burning out, its copping out. I don't mean my rock comparisons and everything else to baffle, I'm just trying to explain things to myself, and sharing things and working them out in a public forum is the best way I know how. --jim =============== Reply 21 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: ANNE PAGANO Date: 04/12 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 2:29 PM Of course, if I was gonna list influential albums of the 60's my short list would be BLONDE ON BLONDE and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO and maybe LET IT BLEED, but thats digression from the real point--which is how we all are taking Kurt's suicide. I've never been suicidal, even if I'm mildly depressed most of the time. And you are totally right--it's not a tragedy competition. I was trying to make sense of one more senseless thing. But, I wonder if I'm (me) going to hear his music differently now. It's one of my totally contradictory (sic?) conceits to try and separate the art from the artist. No matter how personal the art is. I feel that it still exists in its own void, in and of itself, complete and whole. Yet, for the most part I've always been attracted to artists who make art from their lives--Paul Westerberg, Woody Allen, Hunter Thompson--rather than storytellers. Can I reconcile this? No. Also, somebody (I'm sorry, we're all writing short stories here) brought up the "you have to suffer to create" canard, which could only remind me on the recent SPIN piece on the Breeders, where they're revealed to be happy, healthy and normal--which is responsible for the great joy radiating from their music. Which is another tanget. I'm still at a disadvantage cos I haven't seen or heard anything from the suicide note or the too-late-to-stop-the-presses LA TIMES interview w/ Courtney which ran the Sunday after his death but was given the Monday before. Ack. =============== Reply 25 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: JIM HIMES Date: 04/13 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 3:45 PM Jim, Thanks very much for your kind words of support and defense. I don't know any more of what to say, except that it's obvious that you aren't blinded by age and preconceptions--even if you can't relate totally to something like Nirvana's music, you can see its power. Nor are you blinded by the enjoyment of your own youth. The same people who dis the usage of Lennon and Cobain in the same breath were the same people whose parents hated any comparisons of the Beatles ("its just noise") to Frank Sinatra or Glenn Miller or anybody. Thanks for seeing past the cliches of your demographic. Not that I don't appreciate the debate: on the Replacements topic I also got taken to task for comparing NEVERMIND to the highly overrated SGT. PEPPER when PET SOUNDS would have been a more apt comparison in terms of influence. I had to respond that not only were BLONDE ON BLONDE, LET IT BLEED and the VELVET UNDERTGROUND AND NICO my own personal 60's touchstones, but SGT PEPPER wasn't even close to being the best Beatles album (REVOLVER, thank you very much). I thought that was very funny: I never thought I'd get it in reverse like that. =============== Reply 26 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: ANNE PAGANO Date: 04/13 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 4:07 PM Me. I don't--can't really--draw the line between Art and Artist, though I understand why some people do. The Charles Manson song on THE SPAGHETTI INCIDENT was a trifle, obviously recorded for shock value, and well below the high standards that the Gunners have set for themselves. (Note: I'm not being ironic, I love G N'R) Had it been a good song, I'd have liked it. But it's interesting you choose Charles Manson to illustrate your point . . . I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my brother Joe on these boards before. He's a crack addict, has been since 1988. He's also a songwriter w/ talent on par with anybody I like. We were in a band together off and on for years--a band which, everybody said, had the potential to be signed. Except that Joe kept the addict off-and-on cycle going until he finally gave up in early 93--hitting the streets, and ripping off family and friends on a 6-month spree (after all with the murder rate skyrocketing, whats a few property crimes), including one day where he broke into my apartment --this apartment where I'm writing these words, and where he had stayed for six months (a one bedroom to boot), and stole 90 CDs in one fell swoop. During all of this I was listening to his songs and music intensely, possibly because I didn't want the idiot he'd become have anything to do with the songs he'd written. This despite the fact that many of his best songs were about his addiction and/or life on the street or his own fatalism. He finally was apprehended at the wheel of a stolen car. Last I heard, he's in prison, awaiting a bed in a in-patient rehab place, where all of us he'd ripped off said he should be sentenced instead of the 8 years of prison car theft carries in California. The prison he's supposedly in right now is Corcoran--where Charles Manson is currently housed. In my darkest joke mode I wonder if they're writing songs together. But the bottom line is I still love his songs, because they're great songs. Despite how he broke my heart. --barefoot jim =============== Reply 2 of Note 4 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: LORI DOLQUEIST Date: 04/13 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 4:10 PM Aw, don't worry about it girl: drunken late-night posts are what makes this subject great. =============== Reply 28 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: MICHAEL SKLIAR Date: 04/14 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 3:44 PM Yes, Michael, abosolutely. A lot of the rage and negativity and sheer catharsis in JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND are antecedents of the anti-stardom stance of the grunge kids. A stance which I'm not too comfortable with--as Jeaneane Garofalo says to Eddie Vedder in those hilarious Comedy Central spots: If you don't want the young girls fawning all over you, don't become Sassys hunk of the month. =============== Reply 29 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: DAVE WOLF Date: 04/14 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 3:57 PM Canonization? Kurt and Courtney? Not on these boards. (I know, I just re-read every single post, going back a whole painful week.) But I'll strike you a deal: no canonization for no demonizing. Just very flawed humans who gave in to their weaknesses in very public way. Lucky the rest of us who get to give in to our weaknesses privately. =============== Note 6 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: ALL Date: 04/14 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 4:22 PM A couple of things since we're all together: I'm preaching to the converted to talk to 'Mats fans about Husker Du, but the live album is out, and its cherry to the max. Snag it. I even paid full price. Secondly--My close personal friends the Miss Alans have finally released their major-label debut--BLUSHER--on Zoo records (home of Matthew Sweet and the Big Star reunion) and while I'm totally biased (I've known these guys so long a couple of the main characters and events in my novel are based on or around them), I'll still recommend it to everybody here, especially the jangly guitar crowd. It's a bit more psychedelic than straight jangle jangle (Tracy Chisolm--the guy who produced Belly--produced the album), but its still a fine record. Plus, Zoo made the list like 11.98, and its got almost an hour of music. Guitar fans, take note: guitarist Manny Diez is a monster, and that is an objective opinion--hes one of those hookmeisters who plays guitar parts you can sing along with. This ain't hard rock, and if you purchase it and hate it, I won't be offended. No more than I can be unbiased. Jeeze, I've been on this thing forever. But I'm happy my homies have a shot. ============== Reply 3 of Note 6 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: SCOTT HUDSON Date: 04/16 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 0:34 AM Hey Mud, Yeah I talked to them. Manny is a drinking buddy of mine and Jay works at the indie record shop down the street from me and holds cool CDs for me so's I can buy them used. They loved SXSW, they loved Austin. They were all stoked cos they were interview by people from Musician and Pulse and they thought people in Austin were the nicest people they ever met, 'specially after the bizzers they've been dealing with in LA. You see, instead of moving to LA, like so so many other bands, they chose to stay here and base everything out of Fresno, as far as their lives go. Which is cool, cos it cuts down on the potential snob factor. =============== Reply 40 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: LENA POTYONDY Date: 04/16 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 0:06 AM Lena--jeeze, I don't even know where to begin. That anger is good, hold on to it, channel it into your creativity. But eventually you'll realize that any freedom you have is run only by yourself, especially since you're smart and creative. This whole last week has sucked beyond belief. I've been in fights with people I like and respect; I've discussed things that I'd rather keep to myself, but all I know for sure is that this too shall pass. My friend, Tim, who lives in London called me today--he's Still shaken; I mean, he didn't say it, cos us males are like that, but we're all angry and confused and upset and the whole story keeps getting worse. Courtney ODing the day before; the failed intervention, etc. And yet, and yet--no matter how much you loved his music, and, by extension, him--you gotta believe that whatever you feel right now about it--alla the painangerguiltstupidityetc will go away. I'm just rambling now and I can't even use my tag. =============== Reply 41 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: MICHAEL SKLIAR Date: 04/16 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 0:10 AM I like the Crows ok--was most impressed how they made everybody forget about Madonna for a few minutes after they followed her on Letterman last, what was it? century it seems like now. As far as new music goes, I got a dozen CDs I could recommend to everybody right now that I've recently purchased. =============== Reply 42 of Note 1 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: ROCK MUSIC (A-K) Subject: DYLAN--COBAIN To: LINDA SHAW Date: 04/16 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 0:13 AM Linda, (this is off the subject, but so what, I just don't care anymore) I got those lyrics in the mail today. Thank you very much. And as far as starting this subject, you're welcome, but I really didn't have much choice. I NEEDED to. Oh, and hey Gary, I don't expect that nothing I can say will make you change your tune about Cobain etc. and vice versa, but isn't it great we can air alla this? =============== Reply 9 of Note 4 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: LORI DOLQUEIST Date: 04/16 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 0:30 AM Ok, now I'll reply to your second note. I'm not gonna quit P*. I was going to, then Kurt killed himself, and its been quite active where it wasn't before. =============== Note 8 ================= Board: MUSIC Topic: MODERN ROCK Subject: REPLACEMENTS... To: ALL Date: 04/16 From: CCBK67A JIM CONNELLY Time: 1:03 AM Well, since P* won't let me reply to JC Loy in my orginal 'post (though they let me in the Dylan one, and I posted both notes almost simultaneously--weird), I'm starting a new note cos I ain't quite done yet. I was just thinking as I was making myself a new rum and coke and listening to NEVERMIND at neighbor-annoying volumes that Kurt's death might be as seminal of an event as NEVERMIND's break-out for us--you know, an event from which all subsequent events are measured. My friends the Miss Alans wouldn't have ever got signed to a major had not the whole Alternative thing broken. Period. Um, actually, while I'm here, I'd like mostly to thank everybody here for their input and intelligent comments. I orginally went to the "offical" (well, hey, if Lisa Robinson says so it must be) Kurt Cobain area and found mostly "do you think they'll break up" posts there. So I posted my orignal conceived-in-haste-and-sorrow note here, hoping that instinct would will out and you guys would at least check here and I'd get some response. More than one person has commented on the high quality and intelligence of the posts here in the last week and, naturally, I'm not surprised. I know no stupid Replacement fans in real life (advantage of being an eternal cult band) and I've never met any in cyberspace, either. But, (jesus, Kurts singing "and I don't have a gun" right now, and darn it, Anne, it does sound different) I was really going to quit before all this happened. I don't have a job right now (I have savings and unemployment, so its ok) and $30 a month wasn't worth it unless I got intellectual stimulation from it. And the Net was providing that. Now, I'll stay for at least another month. But--and this is what I really want to say--even though most of you live 1000s of miles away, I wish you didn't, cos I feel like (just state your feelings, jim ... I can't, I'm a man, I'm not in touch with my feelings ... ) cos I feel like, if I knew you face to face, we'd be friends, which sucks, due to geography, and is cool because I can always use new friends, even if they are represented by yellow typeface on a black background. So there. --barefoot jim
What do you think? Does all of this still resonate?
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This page created on 30 October, 1995
I was listening to Smashing Pumpkins -- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness