Quietly, without much fanfare, and certainly without exposing herself on national television, Courtney Love and her band Hole released a new album, Nobody’s Daughter.
The record, on Mercury/Def Jam Records, came out last Spring, and the band recently finished up a summer tour through the States and Europe. Aside from a bizarre, rambling show in Washington DC and a minor Twitter feud with Billy Corgan (Courtney loves to tweet), you could almost say Ms. Love has behaved herself these last few months.
She still files lawsuits and burns bridges (et tu Mr Corgan?). She tweets – in raw, shameless bursts – about her daughter, Frances Bean (Frances recently chose to live with her paternal grandmother instead of her own mom). She talks openly about sex, drugs and of course rock-n-roll.
But she can also pull herself together for strong, entertaining performances, for example on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show and at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival.
So what gives?
What happened to the woman who’s been called:
“a verbally incontinent mascot to insobriety”
“the most controversial woman in the history of rock”
“a money-grubbing, no-talent druggie hack”
In many ways, she’s still a train wreck. With her sharp, scathing mouth and runaway id brain, Love’s the person who gets away with it: simultaneously repulsive (the ‘what the f-?’ plastic surgery) and impressive (“Violet” anyone?). The arrests, threats, overdoses, indecent exposure, custody battles and unstable conduct make you wonder: how is she still alive and standing?
You might disagree but I like to think it’s the music that has kept her in the public consciousness for going on 20 years now.
It starts with that voice – pure as rage, strong and nasty. Liquid nicotine. Bad girl telling the truth in lyrics that open up wounds and reveal scars. I listen to Live Through This and Celebrity Skin in the car when I’m driving alone. I turn ‘em up loud, real loud and just wail along with Love as best I can.
Let it burn.
On the new record, “Nobody’s Daughter” and “Skinny Little Bitch” rank up there with some of Hole’s best work. SLB, in particular, zeros in on that desperate, raging spot in your gut that makes you want to scream, shout, set fire to things and kick ass. The song opens with Love’s snarl and a guitar riff that’s pure rock 101 but so damn effective.
Love sneers and growls, hisses and threatens as she spits out a story of desperation and drugs. Is she singing about herself?
Born, of foul creation
Born, of sour milk
Coke and filth
You staggered here on broken glass
So I could kick your scrawny ass
And all the drugs and all the burns
What a nasty
What a nasty, nasty piece of work…
I was never a bad girl. I do everything I can to tick off my to-do list and teach my kids the merits of delayed gratification (finish your school reader and then you can watch iCarly). I’m the meal planner, the activities organizer, the designated driver.
But in my alternate reality a la Courtney Love, I rock out, wear totally inappropriate clothes and give the world a big, fat middle finger.
And I wonder, what’s it like to be her?
Is she Desperate? Lonely? Triumphant?
In a Spring interview with The Guardian, Love said, “I don’t like not being liked. I’ve always been a popular gal. I’ve got good social skills. Sometimes I’m a little bit weird, but never unpopular, never a bully…”
I suspect she resides in a constant state of mood management – am I happy? am I relaxed? can I get some sleep? Like some pharmacological zombie, a Damien Hirst artwork come to life, she lives in a single-minded pursuit of feelgood. And if she can’t find peace of mind, she’ll settle for messy, shameless… high.
Go, take everything, take everything,
I want you to.
I hope she makes more music.
As for me, I like tidy. I like getting things done. And I hate hangovers.
But, man, I sure would love to have her voice.