On April 5th in 1994 Kurt Cobain committed suicide.
In my next book, I Left It On the Mountain - being published next spring by St. Martin’s Press - I mention Kurt when I write about visiting his widow, Courtney Love, at the house they shared in Seattle, Washington.
The book opens with my lying in bed at the London Hotel in LA on my birthday, lolling around before I am to meet Hugh Jackman over at the Peninsula Hotel for lunch. I lie there thinking of other stories I’ve done over the years. The first one I remember is one about Madonna and how she became a heightened acquaintance as so many celebrities have become in my life where I reside just outside the frame of fame. The next person I recall is Courtney Love. Remembering Kurt on this sad anniversary of his death, here’s just a little sample of what I write in the book about Courtney. I feel it’s appropriate to post it this weekend in remembrance of Kurt.
My mind - the only movement in the room - wandered to an earlier birthday. It was the night of the Vanity Fair Oscar party at Morton’s - March 27, 1995. Courtney Love was at my table since she had also requested that I be her escort that night. We had already been spending a lot of time with each other leading up to a cover story for Vanity Fair that was scheduled to run in its upcoming May issue and were by then heightened acquaintances of our own.
A couple of months before the Vanity Fair party I had flown out to Seattle where she lived on the shores of Lake Washington. It was to be our first meeting and she had kept me waiting for well over an hour down in the living room of the house she had shared with her late husband, Kurt Cobain. I became bored going over my interview notes by the fourth or fifth time and began to inspect what appeared to be a kind of Buddhist altar set up on a side table. I opened a tiny box positioned there. What exactly could it contain? I picked up a bit of its contents with my fingers and felt the coarseness of the crinkled thread-like stuff I was holding. As I more closely inspected it - even giving it a whiff - Love entered the living room behind me and I heard, for the first time, a voice. Low. Hoarse. Hers. “What are you doing with Kurt’s pubic hair?” she asked.
I ended up conducting most of the interview with her that day as she lay naked in her tub and scrubbed her own pubic hair in my presence. I also spent many more hours with her on the road as she toured with her band Hole. I swigged vodka from the bottles she offered me both backstage in Salt Lake City and at New York’s Roseland. And I accompanied her to New Orleans to look at real estate. She wanted to own a haunted house as if the one back in Seattle wasn’t haunted enough.
Like Madonna all those years earlier, Love had graciously given me a tour of her home. She’d even unlocked a kind of inner sanctum where Cobain had committed suicide in the studio above the garage, which she’d had converted to a hothouse filled with row upon row of orchids. It was the last thing we did together at the end of a very long day there on the shores of Lake Washington. She walked me into it. Not the studio exactly. Not the hothouse. But the silence Cobain had left there. The light refracted from Lake Washington gilded it all with a silvery grayness. We talked about the orchids.