Eric Erlandson Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

Last month marked the 18th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, and with this milestone came the release of Letters To Kurt (Akashic), a book of 52 prose-poems written by Hole co-founder Eric Erlandson. The letters form Erlandson’s grief-ridden meditations on his experience with the grunge scene and all that came with it, including death, sex and spirituality. We asked him to make us a mix tape, of which he says, “While I wrote Letters To Kurt, song titles, lyrics and blues would whisper about my head ’til they made their way through my hand onto paper. Pitting like against like, there were battles of resistance and armed delirium, the upshot often pretty. A few examples.”

Terry Jacks’ “Seasons In The Sun” Vs. Jacques Brel’s “Le Moribond”
Kurt loved “Seasons In The Sun.” It wound up being one of the last songs Nirvana covered. The lyrics were always sweet creeps, but when I hear the song now it gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’m not sure if Kurt knew Jacks’ version came via a Beach Boys rejection and Rod McKuen’s translation of Jacques Brel’s “Le Moribond.” Hey, we didn’t have the internet back then.
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Talulah Gosh’s Vs. Lois Maffeo
I still love all that C86, twee-pop spangle so revered in Olympia. Talulah Gosh turned into Heavenly, who I was lucky to see just before Matthew, their drummer, committed suicide in 1996. So sad. Lois Maffeo, who just happened to use the name Courtney Love for a few singles released in ’90 and ’91, connected with a more folky aesthetic, but the feeling’s the same. Happy-sad verse-chorus walkin’. Comfort.
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The Smiths Vs. Orange Juice
More great jangle pop from the U.K. Morrissey’s lyrics nailed the biz on “Paint A Vulgar Picture.” I listened to “Death Of A Disco Dancer” recently, and that line “Love, peace and harmony/Oh very nice/Maybe in the next world” took me straight back to Kurt’s “peace, love and empathy.” Maybe for the next breakfast. Orange Juice is one of my all-time favorite Scottish pop bands. They formed a few years before the Smiths. Whenever I hear this song in the morning, my mind lights up, my step gets bouncy, my life doesn’t seem so awful come noon.
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Harumi Vs. Les Rallizes Denudes
Two of Julian Cope’s Japanese psych-rock darlings. I concur. Take a hike listening to either one of these puppies and you’re sure to tingle with the trees and smile with the sky.
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John Berryman Vs. John Cooper Clarke
John Berryman reminds me of my dad. Something about his scholarly beard and all-knowing eyes. He tragically committed suicide by jumping off a bridge after struggling with his success and his demons. Sound familiar? John Cooper Clarke has managed to survive and thrive as poet laureate of the U.K. punk scene. His clever rhymes, when backed by super group Invisible Girls, still sound significant today.
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Jackson C. Frank Vs. Syd Barrett
Jackson Frank was a master-picker/tune-crafter. His only album, recorded in 1965, was produced by Paul Simon, and it influenced countless folkies on both shores. This clip just 12 seconds of his seldom seen magic. Syd Barrett was the original pied piper of children songs for grownups. I love this one ’cause the tiger gets fed in the end.
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