Sunday, May 17, 2015

Entertain Us

I recently watched two HBO documentaries on a couple of 20th century musical icons, Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All and Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck.  Both are well done and I recommend them to anyone interested in these men.

They affected me very differently, though.  For as much a case as the special made about Frank Sinatra as a major artist, I'm not really a big fan.  He led a colorful life, full of ups and downs, and he had a fine voice, but his recordings don't do much for me.  I'm glad he helped keep tunes from the Great American Songbook alive, but his versions are rarely the ones I listen to.  And as an actor, he's got a presence, but can't compare to contemporaries like Marlon Brando in drama or Cary Grant in comedy. (For that matter, Marlon Brando was funnier in Guys And Dolls and Cary Grant was more dramatic in The Pride And The Passion.)

On the other hand, seeing Kurt Cobain's life--home movies, notebooks, interviews with so many close to him (Dave Grohl a noticeable absence)--reminded me what a special presence he was.  He had demons (as did Sinatra) which helped drive him into punk.  No one in his time would go into that type of music expecting to be a huge star, certainly.  But that's what happened.  And when it all came to be too much, he took his life, only 27.  Though that fact hangs over the whole documentary, the show mostly reminded me of how amazing Nirvana was, how exciting and new the band sounded when they first came out.

Cobain wouldn't even be fifty yet.  It's hard to say what he would have done next, but considering how much we got in such a short life, it's painful to think about.

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