The album Kurt Cobain was making when he died

Kurt Cobain

Very few frontmen have had the same impact on the rock world as Kurt Cobain. As the driving force behind Nirvana, he transformed the rockstar persona with his outspoken support for feminism and equality. He introduced nihilistic grunge to teenagers growing weary of hair metal. He wrote hits that are still relevant today, such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are.” And he achieved this with little assistance from bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic.

Kurt Cobain was having difficulties behind the scenes even as he was writing future grunge classics and redefining the frontman role. The Nirvana singer was battling drug addiction, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, and a toxic relationship with Courtney Love. Cobain’s body and suicide note were found at his house in the spring of 1994.

Both his music and his personality would outlive him. People regarded him as a 1990s cultural icon, one of rock’s most respected frontmen, and an inspiration to aspiring guitarists everywhere. Fans speculated about what other grunge soundscapes and lessons Cobain might have shared with the world after his death.

Eric Erlandson, the ex-guitarist of Courtney Love’s grunge band Hole, didn’t have to wonder, though. Erlandson heard some of the material the frontman of Nirvana was working on at the time before he passed away. The material would have seen him leave the three-piece and venture into simultaneous solo and collaborative territory.

Erlandson said that Cobain was going in a “really cool” direction in a conversation with Fuse. He said, “That was what he was going towards, a solo album but working with different people.” It would have been his “White Album.” It is a great compliment to compare his lost work to The Beatles’ 1968 self-titled album, popularly known as the White Album.

The album, which is regarded as one of the best, gave rise to such exquisite songs as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the eminently delicate “Blackbird.” We can only assume that Erlandson’s comment implies that the record would have been among Cobain’s best. This is because it’s not a particularly collaborative record.

It would have been intriguing to witness Cobain engage in more cooperative work as well. He rarely collaborated with other songwriters on his songs, even in Nirvana. Only two of their songsthe catchy “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the shrill “Scentless Apprentice”—credited all three band members.

Few people had the opportunity to witness Cobain collaborate more while still retaining his unique sound vision. Among those who witnessed Cobain perform these songs before his passing was Erlandson. He concluded that “if nobody ever hears those songs, except for like three people, then that’s the way it goes.”

Following Erlandson’s remarks, many of Cobain’s home recordings were made available on the posthumous album Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings, which was released in 2015. Given that the selection covered nearly ten years of spoken word and cover recordings, it’s doubtful that any of the songs Erlandson heard were ones that the frontman had heard before his passing.

It is unlikely that this is all the material that Kurt Cobain intended to release. The album received mixed reviews, with many critics accusing it of being exploitative. It appears that the White Album equivalent Erlandson mentioned might only be available to those who trusted Cobain during his lifetime.

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