Courtney Love Says Kurt Cobain’s Ambition Was Equal to Madonna’s

The late Nirvana bandleader Kurt Cobain, apparently in opposition to his public-facing malcontent with fame, evidently had an ambition for success equal to the pop star Madonna.

At least that’s what Cobain’s widow, the musician and actress Courtney Love, concurred on a recent podcast. While talking with the writer Rob Harvilla on 60 Songs that Explain the ’90s on May 17, Harvilla pointed to a time when Love had made the Cobain–Madonna comparison to him.

Listen to the episode below.

READ MORE: See a Photo Timeline From Throughout Nirvana’s Legendary Career

Harvilla tells Love, “You said Mr. Cobain was one of the most wildly ambitious people to ever walk this earth, and that the whole thing about him not wanting to be a rock star is bullshit. You said he had more ambition than ’80s Madonna.” (via Louder)

Is the analogy apt? Madonna undoubtedly ruled the radio through the ’80s with her envelope-pushing pop. But Nirvana’s sludgy rock didn’t sound anything like Madonna.

Still, “I would put Kurt and 1980s Madonna [on par],” Love replies. “He was canny; he was savvy.” It seems the two stars’ aspirations did have similarities, if not their musical style.

On the same 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s episode, Love also discussed some unused Cobain lyrics that she said were part of an original draft of 1991’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana’s breakthrough hit and the song that launched grunge in the mainstream.

Unused ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ Lyrics

“Some of these were in these journals, and some … are unpublished,” Love explains of the lyrics. She then recited some of the alternate lines, which go as follows: “Come out and play / Make up the rules / I know I hope / To buy the truth / Who will be the king and queen / Of all the outcasted teens?”

Love continues, sharing an alternate “Teen Spirit” refrain, “We’re so lazy / And so stupid / Blame our parents / And the cupids / A deposit for a bottle / Stick it inside / No role model.”

She says other unused stanzas from a different draft were, “We merge ahead this special day / This day giving amnesty to sacrilege,” and other alternate chorus lyrics, “A denial / And from strangers / A revival / And from favors / Here we are now / We’re so famous / Here we are now / Entertain us.”

Courtney Love on The Ringer’s 60 Songs that Explain the ’90s – May 17, 2023

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