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Old Feb 09, 2010, 02:25 PM   #1
Lucy
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Exclamation 'Grunge Is Dead' Author Compares Kurt Cobain To John Lennon, Johnny Rotten

'Grunge Is Dead' Author Compares Kurt Cobain To John Lennon, Johnny Rotten

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/...ny_rotten.html

Omega's Apple recently published an exclusive email interview with Classic Rock journalist Greg Prato, conducted by Robert Gray. Topics of discussion included his book "Grunge Is Dead", as well as his other books, namely "A Devil On One Shoulder And An Angel On The Other: The Story Of Shannon Hoon And Blind Melon", "Touched By Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story", and "No Schlock... Just Rock". Several excerpts from the interview follow:


Omega's Apple: "Grunge Is Dead" was inspired by a Soundgarden article for Classic Rock magazine. What about the article prompted you to take the subject further with a book on grunge, and from there, how did the book develop?

Greg Prato: For most of the feature articles I do for Classic Rock, a lot of time / research goes into it. Being a long-time fan of Soundgarden and other grunge bands, I always wondered why there was not a comprehensive and well put-together book that chronicled the Seattle rock music scene from beginning to the modern day. So I figured I had a pretty good head start to do a book, and took the plunge.

Grunge is often accredited as being the main reason heavy metal experienced a low point in the early to mid nineties. Would you say this was because a lot of heavy metal bands had a somewhat dated sound and image by this time, or would you say this was because the media shifted its focus to grunge?

I would say it occurred because the vast majority of metal bands simply sucked by the early-mid nineties. But to say metal died at that time is incorrect, as bands such as Tool, Pantera, and Korn prospered, and Metallica and Slayer continued merrily on their path. And quite a few people would consider Alice In Chains and Soundgarden heavy metal, anyway. Also, another one of my fave all-time bands, Faith No More, released what I consider to be their best albums in the early to mid nineties. As far as grunge killing glam / hair metal… thank god!

Obviously, the scene’s best known group is Nirvana. Do you feel the group are as great as modern day critics suggest, or has Kurt Cobain’s death clouded their judgment somewhat?

No, Nirvana was indeed the real deal and one of my fave all-time bands. I’d put Mr. Cobain up there with the John Lennon’s and Johnny Rotten’s of the world – meaning that you don’t often see a major rock artist with the cajones to openly and freely speak their mind on a variety of topics. Musically, I’d put Nirvana up there with just about any rock band – there’s simply no comparison between Nirvana and most of today’s popular rock bands. Apples and oranges…

And finally, what is grunge's lasting influence upon the world of music?

I’d say it shows that a musical movement can come out of nowhere and change / influence the world in more ways than just music (politics, fashion, etc.). Grunge also showed that anyone could pick up a guitar, go on stage, and as long as you weren’t afraid to speak your mind and put your own original spin on it, you were a-ok. I also love the sound of a real band playing together live in a room – no ProTools, no drum machines, no click tracks, etc. Music today has reverted back to the dreary eighties – everyone sounding the same, no originality. Please somebody, come and save rock n’ roll!!!

Read the entire interview at Omega's Apple.
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Old Feb 09, 2010, 06:17 PM   #2
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I like alot of Nirvana's stuff, but Kurt ain't no John Lennon. He wrote interesting lyrics, did some cool 'ragey' music, but hardly changed a generation of people. I reckon the hyperbole about him will live on because he died young. What people don't remember is that Nirvana was already losing a bit of their popularity--'In Utero' didn't fare too well until he died so he was hardly the toppermost for very long. If (some of) the kids of the '90s want to revere him as a Lennon-like symbol to cling to, well no harm done I suppose. Those who know better will know better.
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Old Feb 09, 2010, 06:21 PM   #3
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Nirvana was indeed the real deal and one of my fave all-time bands. I’d put Mr. Cobain up there with the John Lennon’s and Johnny Rotten’s of the world – meaning that you don’t often see a major rock artist with the cajones to openly and freely speak their mind on a variety of topics. Musically, I’d put Nirvana up there with just about any rock band – there’s simply no comparison between Nirvana and most of today’s popular rock bands. Apples and oranges…
I am a huge Cobain fan (and I like Johnny Rotten/Lydon, too)... probably because he was the real deal and he did remind me of John. That whole troubled artist thing... and the genuineness of his expression.

Kurt loved The Beatles... and he was a Lennon freak. There's a story about how his producer wanted to double track his voice and Kurt protested because it wasn't "pure" or something... so his producer just had to tell him, "Lennon used to double track his voice all the time" and that was it, Kurt was cool with it.

If you listen to "About a Girl" from Nirvana's first album, it sounds exactly like an early Beatles song! That's because Cobain had been up the night before listening to Meet the Beatles incessantly.
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Old Feb 09, 2010, 06:31 PM   #4
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He wrote interesting lyrics, did some cool 'ragey' music, but hardly changed a generation of people. I reckon the hyperbole about him will live on because he died young. What people don't remember is that Nirvana was already losing a bit of their popularity--'In Utero' didn't fare too well until he died so he was hardly the toppermost for very long.
We posted at the same time, so I just saw what you wrote.

It may be hyperbole to say Cobain was on Lennon's level... but he was a tremendously talented artist who spoke straight from the heart the way John did. Nirvana's level of popularity (or unpopularity) should not really take away from that. Cobain was an important rock artist... and he did change things.

I didn't listen to the radio at all from about 1983 until Nevermind came out because, in my opinion, there was nothing worth listening to. The good stuff (to me) was stuff that rarely was heard back then on the radio... The Clash, The Pogues, Elvis Costello, indie bands... and then I heard Nirvana. That was it! To me... and to millions like me, rock music was saved, at least temporarily. (Kind of like... and I say "kind of" like... when the Beatles "resurrected" rock 'n' roll in the early 60s. It just never reached the same level.)

If Cobain had had a McCartney, who knows? Maybe they would have shaken things up more. But he was a seriously mentally ill young man... suicide ran in his family, so he was sort of doomed from the start.

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Old Feb 09, 2010, 06:40 PM   #5
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okay.
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Old Feb 09, 2010, 06:47 PM   #6
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Great... I'm glad I have completely changed your mind and now you see it my way.

The world would be a better place if everyone just agreed with me.
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Old Feb 09, 2010, 07:22 PM   #7
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Well said, Maia! I'm a fan of both as well. I think they both changed music and spoke for their generation at the time. Not to mention they were both extremely talented and pretty much geniuses.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 09:31 AM   #8
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nirvana up their with just about any other rock band, that is crazy.
there music was nothing new at the time.
i like some of their tunes, but they are not a true genuinely GREAT band. yes they sold heaps of albums but so what, that doesn't imply greatness.

kurt killing himself was terrible, however it was really great for the band, and it enhances their reputation in history.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 09:45 AM   #9
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nirvana up their with just about any other rock band, that is crazy.
there music was nothing new at the time.
i like some of their tunes, but they are not a true genuinely GREAT band. yes they sold heaps of albums but so what, that doesn't imply greatness.

kurt killing himself was terrible, however it was really great for the band, and it enhances their reputation in history.
They didn't invent grunge or revolutionize anything. I give them credit for being about the best of the genre but Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or whoever would have led the pack if Nirvana wasn't around. The best career move for an artist unfortunately is death and in Kurt Cobain's case, an early passing. People create myths like he said so much--what did he say? What did he stand for? Being angry and depressed? There is catharsis in that kind of music but it's not standing for anything. Cultural impact? Maybe a few more flannel shirts were sold. People are free to like or believe what they want regardless if it's based in truth/fact or not. Lord knows there are plenty of Beatle myths. I don't disagree that they weren't important, but I think the name 'John Lennon' is more of a metaphor than anything because aside from being iconic, a comparison isn't realistic. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 12:40 PM   #10
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I was in the retail record biz when Nirvana came along and they were an awfully important band to a lot of people. (I thought they were great as well) Kurt was a major figure to a lot of kids and his death affected many the same way John's murder affected a lot of us Fabfans. Who knows what could have been possible? Given the quality and success of Foo Fighters and other Dave Grohl projects, there was clearly a lot of talent in Nirvana--Krist Novoselic was no slouch either even if he hasn't made as big a splash as Grohl has.
To me, comparing artists as to who was more important/influential is sort of pointlesss. It's a question of how any artist affects any individual. Given his short career, the fact that this thread even exists is a kind of tribute to the impact of Kurt Cobain's work.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 08:19 PM   #11
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Kurt was a tremendously talented melody writer. Listen to how well his songs transfered over into acoustic on Unplugged Live in New York. I'm not quite as sold on his lyric writing ability. I do remember at the time of his suicide that David Fricke (Please correct me I'm wrong!)) of the Rolling Stone was on Mtv talking about how Kurt was as important to his generation as John was to his. I also thought at that time it was a stretch. IMO what Kurt was important for was to inject some life back into the stale music scene once again. Almost like the Sex Pistols did during the 'real' (depending on your version of real!) punk scene of the seventies. I do think that Kurt's shelf life was limited just like the grunge scene was. But he was great and he'll always be a.....Wonder what might have been? Similiar to John.
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Old Feb 11, 2010, 11:17 AM   #12
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IMO, Kurt Cobain was more like the Brian Jones of his generation than Lennon. Plus the fact that they're both in that mythical "27 Club". Just my two pesos, anyway.
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