I laughed when I heard that producers were building a musical around ABBA’s pop songs. I laughed and laughed, and then realized I was pretty darn foolish. Mamma Mia! became a huge Broadway success and a super-fun, popular movie. And it’s one of the reasons why I think a Kurt Cobain musical, which was hinted at this week by Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, might not be such a terrible idea. And actually might be pretty great.
For those of you who aren’t well versed in the history of Cobain and his band Nirvana, here’s some background: They emerged in the late ’80s and became massively successful after their first major label release, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Not only did the band transform “alternative rock” in the ’90s and help launch a whole generation’s cool, Seattle-grunge vibe, their music was pure and raw and influenced a ton of bands you love today. Unfortunately, Nirvana’s history was cut short 20 years ago when lead singer Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home in 1994 of an apparent suicide (tomorrow is the sad anniversary of Kurt’s death). Nirvana’s songs were unique, iconic, and ahead of their time and we’re all still hearing them in heavy rotation today.
Cobain left behind his wife, Courtney – who I’m sure you’re familiar with – and daughter Frances Bean, who was only a toddler when he passed away. While the mother-daughter have had somewhat of a rocky-yet-functional relationship as the years have passed (like, they didn’t talk for three years), according to reports this week, they’re both on board to create a musical that will honor the band.
In an interview with NME, Courtney said that she and Frances have decided to move ahead with a stage musical because, despite not loving the idea only last year, they’ve been persuaded by fans: “After being swarmed by tons of Nirvana fan mail and social-media posts pushing for a musical to become a reality, both Frances and I have thought long and hard and agreed that if we can reach up to the highest shelf and select a team of the greatest and most respected writers, producers and directors, then a Broadway musical is very likely to happen,” she said. Ironically, this news broke around the same time it was announced that R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe will induct Nirvana into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame on April 10th.
This is a pretty important project – Nirvana fans are very protective of Kurt’s legacy and if it’s not amazing, fans will not be shy about sharing their disappointment. There’s also the matter of what the remaining band members, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, will think. Dave Grohl’s personal feud with Courtney Love is no secret- in fact, in a counter-suit filed against her in 2002, Grohl claimed that “In her professional dealings, Love is irrational, mercurial, self-centered, unmanageable, inconsistent, and unpredictable.” In 2012, Courtney also took to Twitter to accuse Dave of hitting on Frances. For the sake of Kurt’s memory and us all really wanting a great homage to Nirvana’s legacy, let’s hope that Courtney can pull it off without pulling anything crazy.
Do you think the Kurt Cobain musical will ever see the light of day? If so, would you want to see it?