Getting out of a Hole
An encounter with Courtney Love's nipple: A music critic reflects on literallyseeing it all
To mention the name Courtney Love in parallel with train wrecks and gasoline fires is to do a disservice to those random acts of tragedy.
Train wrecks and gasoline fires almost never plan their public carnage and then milk it for the most media exposure possible. Courtney Love, as the lead singer of Hole and the wife-then-widow of Nirvana lead man, Kurt Cobain, often did.
What was even scarier, however, is when things spun so far out of control for Love that not even she could grab the reigns and take control of her life.
I have had three personal encounters with Love in my life and all fall into this out-of-control category.
My first was at the 1995 Lollapalooza in Mountain View, Calif., where I stood at the front of the stage eyeball-to-nipple with Love for the entire show. It seems that at the height of Hole's original post-grunge ascent up the charts Love had trouble keeping her shirt on — while keeping her buzz strong and banging out flat-note, catchy dirges like "Doll Parts" and "Miss World" on her guitar.
My second was in 2001 at the 43rd Grammy Awards where Love — dressed in a very form-fitting gown — scurried past the door of the press room at the Staples Center in Los Angeles like a manic geisha screaming "Where's Frances? Where's Frances?!?!" as the gathered national and international media looked on dumbfounded.
It seems that — much like a soccer mom at the shopping mall — she had lost her then-9-year-old daughter.
The third was a Q&A session she did at South by Southwest a few years that was so vulgar I can't even go into the details.
My point is that Love lives each day on the head of a pin ... that has been heated to 200 degrees and then used to stab a worm to be buried at the bottom of a tequila bottle.
That, and a helping of catchy songs written with the help of Cobain and ex-boyfriend/Smashing Pumpkins wunderkind, Billy Corgan, is what made Hole such a can't-miss spectacle back in the day. Now, Hole and Love are hitting Houston for a Tuesday night show at the House of Blues.
Love was Amy Winehouse and Lindsay Lohan before either of them had even seen a tattoo parlor or court-mandated ankle bracelet.
What's intriguing about the just-released new album, Nobody's Daughter, (Hole's first studio album in 12 years) is that Love is now 45 years-old (she turns 46 on July 9), she looks healthier than she ever has and she seems really committed to the band. Even better, singles like "Skinny Little Bitch" and "Letter To God," are a welcome return to the mid-1990s days when chicks used to rock ... not just pose.
I'm actually looking forward to going to the show and watching a more mature Love ... eye-to-eye this time.
Tuesday, July 6
Hole, 7:30 p.m. at the House of Blues
Tickets: $35-$55 ($95 for the VIP package)