Brett Morgen’s intimate and powerful new Kurt Cobain doc Montage Of Heck has been picking up critical plaudits left and right — including from our very own Chris, who called it “the definitive portrait of Cobain.” Some, however, are not so enamored. Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne, who became friends with Cobain in high school, had a few candid and not so flattering things to say about the veracity of the portrait of Cobain compiled by Morgen. Here’s what he said in a new essay on The Talkhouse, the site where musicians write about other musicians:
I went to high school with Kurt and was a big part of all the Nirvana guys’ lives before and after they became famous. I thought very highly of Kurt, Krist and Dave. We were good friends when they were all flat broke, long before they could buy big houses and cars with credit cards. My band played with Nirvana at their last show. I was there for the beginning and I was there for the end, for the very good and the very bad.
First off, people need to understand that 90% of Montage Of Heck is bullshit. Total bullshit. That’s the one thing no one gets about Cobain — he was a master of jerking your chain.
For instance, I know the whole “I tried to fuck a fat retard” story is complete bullshit. Not even an inkling of truth. That’s too good a story to have gone this long without me hearing about it, especially if, as he suggests, the girl’s father freaked out about it at the high school. In that small-town shit-hole, exciting news of that nature would have been common knowledge before the sun set. It never happened. And the trying-to-kill-himself-on-the-train-tracks story is bullshit as well. It never happened either. There it is, though, told in a recording of Kurt’s own voice so it must be true…right? Wrong.
Kurt also told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with his stomach. He made it up for sympathy and so he could use it as an excuse to stay loaded. Of course he was vomiting — that’s what people on heroin do, they vomit. It’s called “vomiting with a smile on your face.”
He also had some issues with Courtney Love’s presentation of the truth in the film (and Courtney Love’s presentation of the truth in general):
And then there’s Courtney.
A lot of what she says in this documentary doesn’t exactly jibe with things Kurt told me himself, but I suppose that’s not surprising when you consider history becomes elastic every time Courtney Love opens her mouth.
For instance, she’d have us believe that Kurt tried to off himself when she’d only thought about cheating on him?
Wow. That’s a whole lot different from the stories he told me in regards to Courtney’s behavior — and this was well before he ended up dead. And that’s just one example.
When Courtney speaks, the truth is certainly there, but God only knows where it begins and ends. In the 20 years since Kurt’s death, the undisputed facts of some of her stories seem to change almost hourly. I remain unconvinced in regards to her testimony, and I don’t think I’m alone.
Essentially, his criticism is that Cobain and Love are both kind of full of shit, and Morgen didn’t catch on:
I find it amusing that the filmmakers never bothered to fact-check simple stuff like this, and just took Kurt and Courtney at their word. That’s a bit risky when you’re supposed to be making a behind-the-scenes documentary — but not surprising considering that not a lot of what’s out there about Kurt is the truth anyway. But no one seems to care. Unfortunately, it matters very little what the facts are; what matters is what people believe. And when it comes to Cobain, most of what they believe is fabricated nonsense. Montage Of Heck does nothing to counter that. With that in mind, it’s really hard to take any of this film seriously…
…I suppose this movie will be interesting for Nirvana completists, because it certainly reinforces their already twisted view of the man. I found it to be mostly misguided fiction.
He did have one positive thing to say about the movie, however:
I did enjoy the really cool animation, though, and they did a fantastic job of showing what a depressing shit-hole Aberdeen really was and still is. For that, I salute them!
You can read the full article here. Also, for good measure, here’s King Buzzo on Cobain and Love in Mark Yarm’s 2011 book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History Of Grunge:
The last conversation I had with Kurt was in Munich, after he had the screaming match with his wife. I had told him this before and I basically reiterated, “I think that what you should do is give her everything, and run as if your very life depends on it. Sign everything over to her from this moment and just be gone. And if you need money, just go out and do a fucking solo tour, play acoustic guitar, you’ll be fine.” He felt like he was trapped. He was embarrassed by her. He wanted to divorce her. He wanted to get out of it. But he was too much of a mess to get out of it. Right when they were walking onstage, he said, “I should just be doing this solo.” And that was it. I never talked to him again. They canceled the rest of the tour.