Cat Power Performs “I Don’t Blame You”

Cat_Power_-_You_Are_FreeListen to this track by Atlanta-born singer-songwriter Chan Marshall going under the name for which she is better known, Cat Power. It’s “I Don’t Blame You”, a single as taken from her 2003 album You Are Free. That record was a return to the stage after a three-year hiatus, resulting in her first record of original material since 1998, and her first charting album on the Billboard 100.

This song was the opening song on the album. But, it was the last one recorded on the sessions and was laid down almost as an afterthought. It remains to be Marshall’s personal favourite from the record; a spare and contemplative tale of fame, alienation, and ultimate loneliness. For many years, she was evasive about the central figure in the song, possibly because sometimes it’s often better for an artist not to spell things out for an audience. After all, explanations can change the perception of the work, which  can risk undermining its power. In interviews, she said that the song could be about anyone. And really, she’s right. The story to be found here is a common one among those who take the elevator of fame upwards into the stratosphere, only to find that the air up there is often too thin to sustain them.

Eventually, though, the hero of the story was revealed to be he whom many had suspected all along; Kurt Cobain.  Read more

Nirvana Plays “All Apologies”

Nirvana All ApologiesListen to this track by million-selling outsiders and grunge initiators Nirvana. It’s “All Apologies”, one half of the double A-side single (“Rape Me” was the other half…) that also appeared on the band’s last completed studio album In Utero in 1993. It would also appear, and be very well framed too, in the live document MTV Unplugged In New York.

The song is among many that made their success, and positioned its writer Kurt Cobain as a leading voice of the era. It would be his instinctual ear for pop hooks within the context of hard-edged rock music that would elevate him from the grassroots scenes in the Pacific Northwest, to the international stage.

Who saw that coming? Certainly not Nirvana.

And what did Kurt Cobain in particular make of this odd turn of events; success in the pop charts? History has shown that Cobain and the fame game were not compatible. That can certainly be detected here, even in this song which was written before that success became such a burden. Read more