I wrote a little bit about Nirvana on my blog previously (https://ronanconroy.wordpress.com/…/foo-fighters-foo-fight…/) when talking about Foo Fighters, but I hadn’t really gone back and thought about or listened to Nirvana in a while. I’ve heard some people say Nirvana sounds dated now, and others say they weren’t all that great, just lucky with timing. Bassist Novoselic himself said during an interview that bands don’t really change the world, they’re just in the right place at the right time.
For me, though, watching “Montage of Heck” brought a lot of things back to me in crystal clear focus: the long night of youth, the demented confusion and the electric darkness in which bands like Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and artists like Bob Mould became torches to light the way.
“Montage” draws on Cobain’s personal recordings, including old demo tapes, animating these and his journals in a way that doesn’t come off as pompous, contrived, or fake, but rather seems to help bring the recordings and writings to life. We see Cobain burning the midnight oil and burning the daytime pouring out endless reams of ideas, notes, song snippets.
The animations alternate with live footage as well as interviews of family members, band members, friends, to give some further views into Cobain’s life as it spiraled out of control from a broken home to a chaotic fireball ride to fame and final despair.
Considering the suicide of my younger brother, and considering the hellish ride I both endured and self-created through some earlier chapters of my life, Cobain’s story of eventual ruin is a poignant and sobering one, and “Montage of Heck” took me aside momentarily to consider the past and the future, and reaffirmed once more the central role music plays in my life.