February 20, 2013


Happy Birthday, Kurt Cobain: Revisit Solo Album That Never Was

Michel Linssen/Redferns
Michel Linssen/Redferns

UPDATE: Today, February 20, 2013, would have been Kurt Cobain's 46th birthday. It's hard to believe that the Nirvana frontman would be well into middle age, the father of a 20-year-old daughter, if he hadn't pulled the shotgun trigger in April of 1994. To commemorate his birthday, Fuse is revisiting our interview with former Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson, who revealed that Cobain was working on demos for his solo "White Album" when he died.

I met with former Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson last week for lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan to discuss his new book, Letters to Kurt, and during our 90-minute chat he dropped some bombshells that I just couldn’t wait to tell y’all about. Notably, that Kurt Cobain was recording new songs at the time of his death that transcended anything he’d written so far: “[Kurt] was headed in a direction that was really cool. It would have been his White Album,” Erlandson says, referring to the Beatles' self-titled magnum opus.

He adds, “That’s really what he was going towards, a solo album but working with different people. I was really excited about some of the stuff he was working on. I got to see him play it in front of me. That’s why I was really sad [when he died]. I was like, ‘Oh man, not only are you cutting off a life, but a message to the world, a musical path is just left with … Bush and all this other stuff [laughs]. He was cut short. Who knows where the music would have gone.”

Erlandson adds that a home recording of Cobain performing a cover of a well-known song exists, but he wouldn’t confess which song it was, exactly.

“There is one cover… I won’t say what it is. I don't own the stuff,” explains Erlandson. “I just hope that one day it will be released for fans. It’s just so heartbreaking.” I then asked if the song would be considered a surprising selection for Cobain, who loved everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Metallica. “No, it’s not surprising. It’s a very sweet, just touching song.”

He adds that an album of rough Cobain recordings could someday be released. “I heard some talk about somebody putting together some raw, rough acoustic thing … and that would be more intimate than the box set [2004's With the Lights Out], because all those little jams you have to throw out [for that box set release]. They presented some [of the home recordings] but there is stuff that has not been put out."

I mentioned a favorite of those home demos, "Do Re Mi," and Erlandson said the unreleased material was in that vein.

"Imagine that," he says of an album of rough recordings. "I’m not in control of things. I just wish something would come together. I think the fans would be a lot happier. If nobody ever hears those songs, except for like three people, then … that’s the way it goes.”

What would you do to hear the unreleased Cobain demos? And which song do you think Cobain covered? Listen to "Do Re Mi" below, then tell us what you think in the comments.