Yo Ho! Nightrider here!
I was a kid when MTV Unplugged in New York premiered on MTV in December 1993. Shortly after Kurt Cobain’s death on 8 April 1994, Hole’s second album Live Through This was released on 12 April 1994. It was an album that caught my attention for its musicianship, Courtney Love’s singing, lyrical content, and memorable songs. Profanity cemented my attention near the end of the album.
Recorded on October 1993, Live Through This was written by Love and Erlandson; rumors about Kurt Cobain writing the album were debunked later. Themes for the album include body image, child abuse, elitism, suicide, milf motifs, pregnancy, and depression. Love wanted Hole to depart from their first album Pretty on the Inside in terms of hard musicality and focus on structure and melodies. To achieve this, bassist Jill Emery and percussionist Caroline Rue exited the band and were replaced by bassist Kristen Pfaff and drummer Patty Schemel. Cobain provided backing vocals for tracks 4 and 8.
Live Through This achieved critical acclaim, going multi-platinum in December 1994. The album is considered a classic and is Hole’s most successful album to date.
To understand how this album achieved success, we will examine a few songs briefly:
- “Violet” is about Love’s relationship with The Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan before her relationship with Cobain. It became Hole’s signature song for its lyrics and Love’s ability to turn music into rage.
- “Miss World” refers to self-image and substance abuse. Love and Erlandson’s message was a dichotomy about being beautiful to others on the outside but really feeling disgusted on the inside.
- “Jennifer’s Body” inspired the horror- dark comedy movie of the same name in 2009. The song’s general theme is about a woman’s kidnapping and dismemberment. Many interpretations of “Jennifer’s Body” followed, from violence against women’s bodies to corporeal fragmentation (a woman’s body being enjoyed piecewise in parts) and to a male aggressor repeating the line “Just relax, just relax, just go to sleep.”
- “I Think That I Would Die” is about post-partum depression with motherhood. It has references to the custody battle between Love and Cobain over their daughter Frances Bean Cobain. Kat Bjelland co-wrote this song with Love and Erlandson.
- “Doll Parts” was written solely by Love. Considered as one of Hole’s signature songs, “Doll Parts” was inspired by Love’s encounter with Cobain before their relationship and subsequent marriage. She sent Kurt a heart-shaped box with a porcelain doll and other tidings. The song’s lyrics talk about how Love first felt about Cobain feeling rejected because of his lack of communication. After Cobain’s death, “Doll Parts” had a new, tragic meaning for Love as she performed the song with anguish while on tour.
I highly recommend Hole’s Live Through This. It’s lyrics still have relevance and is a sharp, fresh alternative to mainstream music of both yesteryear and today.