The benefit concert. It seems fitting to write about a benefit concert today; on same the day that we found out Ravi Shankar , (aged 92, and father to Norah Jones) left the Earth. He, for those of you who don’t know, is the father of the benefit concert. He organized the first one in 1971 (along with George Harrison of the Beatles) for those stricken by famine in Bangladesh.
12-12-12 will be fundraising concert for Sandy victims. It is a noble cause. Having seen the destruction in New Orleans, post-Katrina and Joplin, post-tornado, I know that there’s still much to be done on the ravaged Eastern Seaboard. I planned to do my bit; tune in, donate, and all in all, enjoy a lovely night of music which is to include the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Kayne, Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Roger Waters (Pink Floyd—The Wall and before), Eric Clapton, and many more.
And then, this morning, I heard that Nirvana (namely Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters fame and Krist Novoselic of civic service in his community fame) was rumored to be reuniting. They would play again for the first time in nearly 20 years—when lead man Kurt Cobain killed himself in his Seattle home, likely after being baited to do so by the nasty Courtney Love. Cobain left his band in tatters and a small daughter, who has thankfully grown to be a decent woman, despite her mother’s attempts to the contrary…
But I digress. The rumor is that they would reunite for the first time since 1994, and be playing a new song at the benefit concert. But, who would be replacing Kurt? Would it be Eddie Vedder? I couldn’t imagine he would accept that offer, but it would be notable—given that Cobain and Vedder brought the alternative music scene to the masses after the 1989 John Peel sessions in the UK. Would they get someone from the bands that played the Seattle scene in the early days with Nirvana? Would they get Mark Arm from Mudhoney? That would make sense. They often played together, and covered one another’s songs.
NO. They did not go that way. They went the complete opposite of that way. You cannot even imagine how NOT THAT WAY they went.
They went with Sir Paul McCartney. You see, that whole Harrison blip in the first paragraph? That was foreshadowing. McCartney let the cat out of the bag in The Sun. He’s quoted as saying:
“I didn’t really know who they were. They are saying how good it is to be back together. I said ‘Whoa? You guys haven’t played together for all that time? And somebody whispered to me ‘That’s Nirvana. You’re Kurt.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
He didn’t even KNOW WHO THEY WERE! I don’t even think I can count all of the ways in which this is wrong. I honestly don’t know if I can watch this concert now. Well, I take that back. I’ll watch it, hiding my face behind my hands and peering through my fingers.
Here’s the deal: McCartney is from my parent’s generation. I know a lot of people enjoy the Beatles (I’m not one of them), and I know that this enjoyment of the Beatles transcends generations, but the Beatles belonged to my parents and Nirvana belonged to me. My generation. The generation who could not believe that he would come on the main stage for a brief three years, change the complete scope of what we listened to on the radio (goodbye Vanilla Ice, NKOTB, and Janet Jackson; hello Bush, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc.!), and then just be gone. Like that. While McCartney certainly has his merits, the fact remains that concert organizers couldn’t pick a worse stand in for Kurt Cobain.
Cobain was the man who wore the “Corporate Rock Sucks” t-shirt, after all. And the Beatles, of course, were pioneers in the Corporate Rock scene. The cognitive dissonance in my mind right now on this one issue cannot be resolved. I haven’t even begun to grapple with the others.
Shame on you, whoever made this happen! Shame on you, concert organizers for attempting to spring this on me! Shame! For Shame!!!