Kurt Cobain in 1993
By Phil Gallo
Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic had a single-word opinion on Brett Morgen’s film Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: “Terrific.”
The musician attended the Jan. 24 world premiere at Sundance Film Festival and the after party at the Social House, which featured a post-midnight performance from the Meat Puppets, the band Nirvana brought on tour with them in 1993 and featured in their MTV Unplugged show.
The Meat Puppets performed to a packed house that included Jack Black, director Morgan Spurlock, Primary Wave Music CEO — and an executive producer of the film — Larry Mestel, composer Jeff Danna, and the film’s artistic and producing teams.
Hours earlier, Morgen told Billboard he thought the biggest surprises the film will deliver for Nirvana fans are Cobain’s acoustic cover of the Beatles’ “And I Love Her” and close to a half-hour of Cobain recordings, both singing and speaking.
"It’s as intimate you can get," said Morgen, who worked on the film off and on for more than eight years. "People have projected fantasies on the limited amount of things that came out between 1991 and 1994 (from Cobain). I have a great degree of confidence the more you get to know him, the more you’ll love him."
Cobain’s daughter Frances Bean Cobain and his widow Courtney Love; the pair have had a tumultuous relationship, but hugged on the carpet at the Sundance premiere of the documentary
In no particular order, here are 10 things in Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck — many of them culled from Cobain’s recordings and journals — that give new perspective on the late Nirvana leader.
1. Following his parents’ divorce when he was 9 years old, Cobain was shuttled between homes largely because of his hyperactivity until he reunited with his mother in the eighth grade. A desire for an ordered life with clearly defined roles would become an obsession the rest of his life.
2. By the time he was 4, Cobain had a toy guitar, piano and drums, plus a record player.
3. The 1979 teens-take-over-the-town film Over the Edge starring Matt Dillon had a huge impact on young Cobain. “I wanted to be a vandal and hold everyone hostage,” he is heard saying.
4. A list of bands he loved as a teenage included the Stooges, Flipper and Bad Brains, yet in one photo the most clearly visible album in his collection is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Cosmo’s Factory.
5. The first time he did heroin was in 1987.
6. Cobain made a lot of lists, everything from six things needed for the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video to how to be a successful band — "practice five times a week ˆ to “rent Eraserhead.”
7. Not only did he not want to talk about Nirvana’s music in interviews, he made clear in his journals how much he believed “it’s all in the music” and nothing more needs to be said. “I feel like I’m being evaluated 24 hours a day,” he writes. “I feel violated” is another emphasized entry.
8. When it came to writers and publications, Sassy magazine and Lynn Hirschberg — who wrote about Cobain and Courtney Love for Vanity Fair — were at the top of his enemies list.
9. Courtney Love attributes Cobain’s overdose in Rome to her contemplating having an affair. She says she never cheated on him.
10. Numerous home movies show Cobain as a doting father. Of Love and Cobain, director Morgen says, “They were Ozzie and Harriet on heroin.”
Alex Gale contributed to this report.
Image credits: AP Photo/Robert Sorbo, File, Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Sundance