'Live Through This' album cover and Kurt Cobain/Courtney Love

‘Live Through This’ Is 30 and I’m Still Mad About That Kurt Cobain Rumor

Live Through This, Hole’s perfect album, just turned 30. If you weren’t around back in the dark ages of the 90s, you won’t remember the absolute sexism and BS that surrounded this, again, perfect ode to female rage. However, it’s time to reclaim the album’s legacy and end those authorship rumors once and for all.

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Here’s the thing—Courtney Love is Hole. Yes, there are other, extremely talented people in the band, but Courtney was the public face of Hole, and wrote or co-wrote all their original songs (hold that thought). However, Love has always had a, well, shall we say, complicated public image. Primarily because she’s never acted like she cared what people thought about her. She sought attention, embraced her rage, and generally ran amok for a very long time. Her behavior was in part due to her addiction issues at the time, but also Courtney Love has made it clear from the jump she simply never gave a f*ck what anyone thought and that she was going to be herself.

So, being a complicated woman, there is a certain type of person who has always hated her. You know the type, the gatekeeping smugly condescending type. To add fuel to the fire, Love’s husband, Kurt Cobain, was found dead four days before the album’s release. To a certain subset of elder millennials and late Gen-Xers, Cobain’s death is one of those cultural touchstones you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. (Being driven to school, hearing the news on the car radio.)

As a kid from Alaska who grew up on a mountain, I wasn’t exposed to alternative music unless it was played on the radio. 1994 was pre-internet and I fell in love the moment I heard the opening riff to Violet. I wore my love for this album proudly and openly on my sleeve. As a result, I’m sure it wasn’t long until some turd decided it was his duty to tell me: “Kurt wrote that album, not Courtney.”

That’s right, people were insisting that a masterpiece of female rage was ghostwritten by a man for no other reason than that it was that good. The main crux of the argument was, “The first album wasn’t that good (read: commercially accessible) so Kurt Cobain clearly had to have written it.”

These rumors persisted for years without a shred of evidence, so much so that it was documented in 2014 in SPIN’s oral history of the album’s creation:

Courtney Love: I wanted to be better than Kurt. I was really competing with Kurt. And that’s why it always offends me when people would say, “Oh, he wrote Live Through This.” I’d be proud as hell to say that he wrote something on it, but I wouldn’t let him. It was too Yoko for me. It’s like, “No f***ing way, man! I’ve got a good band, I don’t f***ing need your help.”

The whole thing is infuriating and oh-so-typical: A woman creates something excellent, so obviously, a man must have done it instead. Love has always been upfront with song credits; she shares almost all credit on the album with Eric Erlandson. So let’s not pretend this is anything but blatant, raw misogyny being dressed up as hero worship of Cobain. Boooo!

Let’s be clear: Kurt Cobain, brilliant as he was, didn’t write any part of Live Through This. According to the band, when he visited the studio while they were working on it, he contributed some light backing vocals after the song was almost completed and gave some advice to the album’s producer, which was immediately rejected.

As for sounding different? Gee, it’s almost as if Courtney Love is very talented, and set out to make a musical change intentionally:

Courtney Love: I think it’s pretty flawless for what it is, for the time. For going from Pretty on the Inside, which is atonal and has really brilliant lyrics, to f***ing songs you can sing along to? I just gave it my best. I gave it 100 percent.

Spin

I will die mad at this rumor, but at least I’ll have the perfect album to rage out to as I’m nursing that grudge. Now excuse me while I go put on Miss World.

(featured image: DGC Records; Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)


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Author
Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and reality TV in particular for six years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She is the co-host of the popular Bravo trivia podcast Bravo Replay, and her favorite Bravolebrity is Kate Chastain, and not because they have the same first name, but it helps.