“Teenage angst has paid off well,” Kurt Cobain once sang, but hearing a young thespian sing those words on Broadway would be a sell-out too far. Not long after Courtney Love’s manager hinted the two were at work on a potential Nirvana musical, the Hole frontwoman has thrown cold water on the idea. “There will be no musical,” Love told the Observer. “Sometimes it’s best just to leave things alone.” Whew.
The idea of bringing Nirvana’s songs to the Great White Way was one of several unsavory allegations to emerge from music business manager Sam Lutfi’s recently dismissed civil lawsuit against Britney Spears and her family. Lutfi reportedly testified in court that he and Love “are currently working on a possible motion picture or Broadway musical based on the Nirvana catalogue, based on her life and Kurt Cobain’s.” Though Lutfi later downplayed the remark, his testimony that he “currently co-manage[s] Ms. Love” gave it the appearance of some legitimacy.
According to the Observer, Love doesn’t just share your average Nirvana fan’s disgust for this idea. She’s also opposed to profiteering based on her late husband’s life and work more generally. Love is quoted as saying she was “pissed off” when director Baz Luhrmann used a snippet of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in 2001’s Moulin Rouge! and didn’t give her a role in the movie. She also indicated that although she has passed along some rights over Nirvana’s legacy to daughter Frances Bean Cobain, the younger Cobain doesn’t have control over what’s done with Nirvana’s songs. That appears to contradict previous reporting, though frankly, Love’s legal explanation here is extremely unclear.
What’s certain is Love is taking inspiritation for her anticommercial stance from a possibly surprising source. She told the Observer, “Ryan Adams said something profound: ‘Every time I play my guitar for money, and every time I play my guitar to get laid, I lose a little of my mojo.'”
Speaking of Muppets, Love also continued to say memorable things about the Jim Henson-created puppets’ take on Nirvana: “What the fuck’s with the Muppets? I happen to like Elmo and I think the Cookie Monster is interesting but I know him [Kurt] and I know he didn’t want to be a Muppet. It was a disgrace. Like pissing on a grave.” First Mitt Romney picks on Big Bird, now this.
The Broadway flap comes amid a spate of Nirvana-related commercial tie-ins lately. CBS reportedly has a sitcom in the works called Smells Like Teen Spirit. Meanwhile, the bass guitar Cobain smashed in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video is going up for auction on November 29 in London.
As the Observer notes, though, a Nirvana musical would certainly bring in some serious cash. Abba reportedly earned as much as an estimated $6 billion from Mamma Mia!, for instance. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons musical Jersey Boys has taken in a reported $2 billion globally. (Separately, the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots musical, a collaboration with Jersey Boys mastermind Des McAnuff, is scheduled to open November 6 at the La Jolla Playhouse.)
The title of Love’s upcoming single via U.K. label Wichita might signal her feelings on the issue: “It’s called ‘This Is War,'” she’s quoted as saying. “It’s be the best song I’ve written in my life.” We smell a Tony!