First, some background:

I have a confession to make. When I got my first PC -- in March, 1993, the (2400 baud hahahahahahahaha!) modem I purchased was also bundled with free Prodigy software. Since my whole purpose for getting online was to find the mythical, mystical Internet and I didn't know Prodigy from a whole in my wallet, I signed up.

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
  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.

                                        --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
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

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

===============   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
                            --barefoot jim

What do you think? Does all of this still resonate?

Back to my Writing Home Page

WritingMy MusicCool

This page created on 30 October, 1995
I was listening to Smashing Pumpkins -- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness