Love always finds herself in a Hole
Even a new album can't stop the sound of discord surrounding Kurt Cobain's widow, says Barry Egan
Some people will do anything for publicity. And then there is Courtney Love. She has always reminded me of that Bette Davis quote: "With a newspaper strike on, I wouldn't consider dying." In 2002, Kurt Cobain's merry widow took her desire for attention to crazed new heights (we'll get to her telling Vanity Fair she did drugs while preggers with Frances in a minute): Love whipped off all her clothes during the photo shoot for Q magazine in a London hotel room at Christmas, went outside and ran down the road in the nude hailing a cab.
Back at the hotel, she then set fire to her designer underwear before pouring champagne over her head. As if that wasn't quite enough, Love then demanded a unique beauty treatment: a waxing treatment for her rear end. At least she wasn't doing anything illegal. In an infamous 1992 interview with Vanity Fair, she talked about her penchant for heroin. Infamous because she was pregnant at the time.
She has been repeatedly blamed for introducing Cobain to the drug. "Kurt and I did a lot of drugs. We got pills and then we went down to Alphabet City and Kurt wore a hat, I wore a hat, and we copped some dope. Then we got high and went to SNL. After that, I did heroin for a couple of months," she told VF's Lynn Hirschberg, who further alleged that Love had a history of heroin use going back to when she was 18, including taking the drug in the Chelsea Hotel room in New York where Sid Vicious's girlfriend Nancy Spungen died in October, 1978.
She has also been demonised as the Yoko Ono of grunge: the implication being that Yoko broke up The Beatles and Courtney did the same to her husband's band Nirvana. And there was me thinking that Nirvana broke up when Kurt committed suicide on April 5, 1994. Duh.
Asked recently was there anything she regretted in her life, Love replied: "Well, my whole drug period isn't so great. But Frances is mostly embarrassed about when I'm fat more than the drugs.
"You go to rehab, you feel really skinless, feel like no one likes you and you feel ostracised," she added. "Carrie Fisher called this business of show 'high school with ashtrays', which it very much is. We're all very codified in a 17-year-old's mindset. I have a 17-year-old; I know exactly how she feels. I'll never be cool enough for her."
My favourite Courtney Love story is the indie-rock shrew and Mark Feehily of Westlife. In 2004, Mark was trying to enjoy a performance of Alicia Keyes at the World Music Awards in Las Vegas when Courtney Love was determined to be heard above all else. "Can you shut the f*** up!" Feehily allegedly told her.
It seems not. Last month, Love's mouth opened spectacularly to announce that she was using the band name Hole for her forthcoming album Nobody's Daughter -- without the involvement of founding member Eric Erlandson.
(The last album to come out under the Hole name was 1998's Celebrity Skin. In 2004, Love released the album America's Sweetheart under her own name.) "It is Hole, yes, of course," Love said. "How do I do this? It is just because it is, and it is because we just negotiated our thing and it'll be fine. Everyone has good lawyers."
She has certainly needed them in the past. In March 2004, Love was arrested and charged with "assault and reckless endangerment" after striking a fan with her microphone stand, the police said, during a performance at New York's nightclub Plaid. The evening had hardly started auspiciously when Love's appearance on Late Night With David Letterman took an intriguing turn when she stood on Letterman's desk and, according to the New York Times, "flashed him".
On the Howard Stern radio show in April 1995, she dropped the veil of the teary widow and started to lash out in anger. "I've been keeping this all in for years," she said. "So now I'm going to say it: Kurt hated Dave [Cobain's Nirvana bandmate Dave Grohl -- now the singer with the Foo Fighters]. He liked him for the first year, but then he turned into an asshole."
Love has been the victim of some music business misogyny. Her band Hole's one classic album -- Live Through This -- has been dogged by, according to Spin magazine, rumours that she didn't write a lot of the songs. "I don't give a shit anymore," Love said in October 2005. "My number one thing to work on is not being reactive -- but appropriateness doesn't come easily to me sometimes. One of the reasons I hate Dave [Grohl] so much is he went on Howard Stern and said 'I like Teenage Whore because I know she wrote it'." (Teenage Whore is from Pretty On The Inside, Hole's first studio album, released in September 1991.)
"That stupid m***** f****r," she went on about Grohl. "He knows exactly what I wrote, he knows exactly the input I had on [Nirvana's] third album."
Quizzed by a website last month to outline the difference, as she saw it, between Courtney Love the musician and Courtney Love the public personality, she answered that she can't seem to get away from the public eye.
"I can't seem to get away from it. At the same time, it's nothing to do with me. It's like this 'Courtney Love Monster' is not my problem. It's your problem, basically. The 'Courtney Love Musician' is a different thing altogether, and, in fact, my actual name is Courtney Love Cobain -- that is what's on my passport. So it's sort of like I'm watching a Nineties revival and I'm like, 'Wow, it's good to be me right now'.
"I had no idea it would be good to be me five years ago, because it wasn't good to be me five years ago, but I kind of didn't care. I always figure my timing has always been either really good or really bad."