Category Archives: Nirvana

I [Heart] Amy Lynn Lee

It may or may not be surprising to find out that both terms Kinderwhore and Riot Grrrl originated in conversations about my life between Kurt Cobain and myself. 

Kurt came up with the band name Amy Carter and the idea for a zine “I [Heart] Amy Carter”.  The band members consisted of Tammy Rae, Kathleen Hanna, and Heidi Aborgast.  

We were discussing former President Jimmy Carter who’s home state is Georgia, same as my adopted mother’s.  I told him Amy Lynn Carter and I shared not only a first name and middle initial, but we also both have red hair.  (origin for stagename Amy Lynn

In 1991 Nirvana released the song On A Plain written in reference to President Jimmy Carter’s home town of Plains, Georgia.

(Left, young Amy Lynn Carter, fourth daughter of U.S. President Jimmy Carter)

(Bottom Right, Amy Lee, January 1976 on 8th Birthday)

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Bee Girl “Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”

Was you ever bit by a dead bee? – Eddie, 1944 movie To Have and Have Not

You might be under the impression that the “Bee Girl” era actually happened with Blind Melon’s song No Rain released in 1992.  It actually goes back further than to 1983 with Joe Elliott decided to use Lauren Bacall’s dress in To Have and Have Not as inspiration for Julia Robert’s hooker dress in the movie Pretty Woman (see previous post “Oh! Pretty Woman).

One day Kurt kept pressuring me to come up with a new song.  Joe Elliott was standing near by.  I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with them that day and I sat down on the stage.  I said, “I’ve got no new tale to tell.”

After a minute, I stood up and started making up a song which became No New Tale To Tell performed by some of the former members of the band Bauhaus who formed the band Love and Rockets.  The song was released on the 1987 album Earth, Sun, Moon album. 

If you do not know who Bauhaus is, they were featured in David Bowie’s and Susan Sarandon’s ’83 cult classic The Hunger with their song from 1979 “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”.

The music video for No New Tale to Tale was the start of the Bee Girl era along with the image of a monkey, a symbol for Michael Jackson’s chimp Bubbles.  This included Kurt Cobain’s collection of toy monkeys and the use of a toy monkey in the Alice In Chains music video Grind.

The idea to start naming bands for “fruit” came from the use of “peach” in Pour Some Sugar On Me performed by Def Leppard and U Got The Look performed by Prince and Shiela E.  It also came from me joking around with INXS sayingthey were the vegetables and I being the fruit. 

This is how I came up with the name when Billy Corgan asked me what he should name his band and I said “Smashing Pumpkins” and also  named the band “Blind Melon”, with Melons and Pumpkins being a fruit.

The band Krokus which had been on tour with Def Leppard on the Rock Till You Drop Tour in 1983, released To Rock or Not to Be (a reference to the movie To Have and Have Not starring Bogey and Bacall) in 1995 also used the image on the cover art.

One day while Kurt (Cobain) and I were working on songs, he pulled a sheet of notebook paper out of his back pocket which happened to be the lyrics for what would become “Bee Girl” performed by Pearl Jam.

“Bee girl, you’re gonna die.
You don’t wanna be famous, you wanna be shy.
Do your dances alone in your room.
Becoming a star will become your doom.
Bee Girl, be a girl

You know time is long, and life is short.
Begin to live while you still can.
Believe in nothing, believe me,
Those who can be trusted can change their mind.
When the anxious is the present, unwrap your gifts, take your time.
Everything you imagine needn’t be stuck in your mind.
Bee Girl, be a girl… “ – Bee Girl performed by Pearl Jam

“She should have stayed away from friends
She should have had more time to spend
She should have died when she was born
She should have worn the crown of thorns
She should have been a son” – Been A Son, Nirvana


Legend Movie Origin

If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says
“15 miles to the
Love Shack”
Love Shack, yeah, yeah
I’m headin’ down the Atlanta highway
Lookin’ for the love getaway
Headed for the love getaway
I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale
And we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack

 – Love Shack performed by B-52’s

The book St. Elmo by Augusta Jane Evans in 1866, which St. Elmo, Alabama was named for and inspiration for the movie St. Elmo’s Fire, mentions another place I visited as a child Lookout Mountain, Georgia.  Some of the Def Leppard road crew, Kurt Cobain, Michael Hutchence, and others decided to head off on another road trip.  Of which, I told Tom Cruise when he came to see me again.

Located in Lookout Mountain, Georgia is the roadside attaction called Rock City, near the underground cave waterfall Ruby Falls.  Rock City is well-known for the many barn advertisements throughout the South and Midwest.  In total, over 900 barn roofs in nineteen states were painted by Clark Byers.

When Garnet Carter decided to make the area a tourist attraction he named the 700 acres Fairyland.  Mrs. Carter set out to develop the property into one big rock garden, marking a trail that wound its way through the giant rock formations, ending up at Lover’s Leap where LEGEND has it you can see seven states.  She also planted wildflowers and other plants along her trails, importing German gnome statues and other famous fairytale characters.

This trip to Lookout Mountain, the barn roof advertising Rock City, and a movie review about Legend inspired other songs I wrote, including the B-52’s hit song Love Shack.

The Aug. 26, 1985 movie review about the fairy tale movie “Legend” and words of the director Ridley Scott and illustrations from another fairytale called Alice In Wonderland inspired me to write the lyrics in the song “The Show Must Go On” performed by Queen.  

“We originally set out to make a kind of pantomime – a sophisticated “Jack and the Beanstalk.” – Ridley Scott

“Empty spaces – what are we living for
Abandoned places – I guess we know the score
On and on, does anybody know what we are looking for…
Another hero, another mindless crime
Behind the curtain, in the pantomime

and,

“My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies
Fairytales of yesterday will grow but never die
I can fly – my friends ”

The initial inspiration for the song, The Show Must Go On, came from Alan Parsons “Day After Day (The Show Must Go On)” which also inspired me to write the song “Day After Day” performed by Def Leppard.


Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love Myths

Kurt Cobain did not have a relationship with a girl named Tracy Marander. This was a girl he knew and gave the name Tracy for my ex-boyfriend. (See 1982 of which the page is bound into my school annual)

Kurt does not have a sister named Kimberly Dawn. Kimberly is my sister-in-law’s name. Dawn is the street I lived on in 1983 when I met them.

Kurt claimed to have an aunt named Mary, for the Mary in the song “Lose Control” performed by Evanescence which I wrote when I was 15 in 1983.

Leland Cobain is not Kurt’s grandfather’s name.  In 1957, Frances Farmer met Leland C. Mikesell, an independent broadcast promoter from Indianapolis who helped her move to San Francisco.

In all the years I knew Kurt, I never once saw in inject himself with a syringe. That is not to say he didn’t do drugs.

The movie Straight to Hell released in 1987, the actress which goes by the stage name Courtney Love looking very much pregnant and I don’t believe that is padding.  Do you?  There is a girl who is part of their clan which Kurt Cobain claimed as his half-sister Breanne, who would be about the right age.  Actually, Breanna is my cousins name which he used.

Courtney’s character’s name in the movie Straight to Hell is Velma. In the town where I grew up, Trussville, there is a bar by the name of Velma’s Place.

Just as Courtney Michelle Love is not her real name.  Her birth certificate is a fake showing her father at age 15 and mother age 20 at the time it happened to be recorded in 1973.

  


Dont Go Chasing Waterfalls

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and lakes that
You’re used to
I know that you’re gonna have it your way
Or nothing at all
But I think you’re moving too fast”

While reading the book which inspired the 1985 film St. Elmos Fire, St. Elmo by Augusta Jane Evans, it gave me the idea to show them why I love Alabama so much and places I had been to when little.

In the fall we, several on the Def Leppard road crew, Kurt Cobain, and members of INXS, went to Noccalula Falls National Park located in Gadsden, Alabama (pictured top right).  It was named for the Cherokee princess Noccalula who, according to local legends, plunged to her death after being ordered by her father to marry a man she didn’t love.  The bronze statue memorializing her jump into the falls.

Unfortunately, the day we went to the falls it was at a low ebb and disappointing.  This inspired the lyrics to the song “Waterfalls” performed by TLC. 

I was running along the dirt path in front of Michael Hutchence to get a view of the falls when I tripped over a tree root.  This inspired their song “Falling Down The Mountain (Kiss The Dirt)” released on the album Listen Like Thieves in October ’85. 

With the song Creep also released on TLC’s ’94 Crazy Sexy Cool album, in the lyrics I make reference to a song I made up for Prince titled “Gett Off”.

The 23rd of loneliness” in Creep is a reference to “23 position in a one night stand” in Gett Off.

While Andrew Farris and Hutch were teaching me Aussie slang words when the subject came to The Outback and words like “the Bush” and “Shrub” which, due to the accent, I misunderstood as “scrub”.  That is what inspired the song “No Scrubs” and eventually the band name Bush.

This trip to Noccalula Falls also inspired the lyrics in Nickelback’s song “Leader of Men”.

“One day, up to a cliff

That overlooks the water

I jumped in to save a girl

It was somebody’s daughter”


Easy A

 “Easy operator come a knockin’ on my door” – Pour Some Sugar On Me, Def Leppard

Upon meeting Tom Cruise he wanted me to help him with ideas for movie and not just for himself, but his friends as well.  I knew that several of the bands or artists such as Billy Squier and Oingo Boingo had contributed songs to movies, such as ’82 Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and INXS later talked about contributing to the movie Pretty in Pink released in ’86.  

I started with what I knew and told him about spending part of my summers in singing school and then the other in a reading club at the local library from about 2nd grade.  We would have contests to see who could read the most books at our grade level.  When I was in about third or fourth grade, while searching for a new book to read, a garnet covered book with a large “A” stood out in a low stack.   It was The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  While reading The Scarlet Letter I realized there were words I did not know or understand, so I approached the librarian who directed me to the nearest dictionary.  There I sat for several afternoons in a row until I finished the book.

There is another Scarlet which has meaning to me and that is the iconic Southern female Scarlet O’Hara portrayed by Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind.  Mom and I would curl up on the sofa together every time it would come on television.  I’ve actually known a few Scarlets, figuratively speaking.

English actor Gary Oldman had been tapped to play the role of Sid Vicious in Kurt Cobain’s  brain-child, the ’86 movie (Love Kills) Sid & Nancy.  Actress Demi Moore had been tapped to star in ’85 St. Elmo’s Fire.  While trying to draw connections to me they found a town in lower Alabama named St. Elmo.  The town was named for an 1866 novel by Southern author Augusta Jane Evans of the same name.  While doing more research they came across the electrical weather phenomenon called St. Elmo’s Fire. 

Later both actors, Gary Oldman and Demi Moore, were then tapped to star in the ’95 movie The Scarlet Letter.  The Executive Producer being none other than Dodi Fayed who died in the car crash with Diana, Princess of Wales in ’97.  After seeing the movie I mentioned to Tom that I was a bit disappointed in the writer taking creative license with the script. 

Another Scarlet influenced the ’92 movie Basic Instinct and the fact that one day I accidently stabbed Kurt Cobain with a microwave meat thermometer.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a mortal wound.  The movie I am referring to is Australian-American filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1945 Scarlet Street. 

The dance scene in Basic Instinct actually happened while I was dancing with Kurt Cobain and Michael Hutchence at a private party when the ’84 album Purple Rain was released and Prince & The Revolution performed. 

Kurt Cobain made reference to the Scarlet Street movie in his journal under the page titled H.R. Puffnstuff, “Marlen Dietritch, Lilly Marlene sings”.  He is referring to the German love song Lili Marlene.  The poem was originally titled “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne” (German for “the girl under the lantern”), but it became famous as “Lili Marleen”. 

Nirvana in 1993 on MTV Unplugged in New York, Kurt requested the stage be surrounded by “Madonna” lilies.  Not to mention the “Anarchy A” on the cheerleader’s uniforms in the music video for Smells Like Teen Spirit.

While getting to know Michael Hutchence, of INXS, he told me about Australia, slang words, vegemite, and the ’79 movie Mad Max film starring Mel Gibson.  One day I fell asleep on the sofa in a dressing room of the auditorium we were working in.  I woke to Hutch starring me in the face smiling and for some strange reason I exclaimed, “Max!”  As a side project in 1989 Hutch started a band by the name of Max Q. 

If you haven’t seen the 2010 movie Easy A, I can highly recommend it.


Kurt Cobain and Charles Barkley

The Orange and Blue” also known as Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama

In 1983, basketball player Charles Barkley from Leeds, Alabama was on the Auburn University basketball team before going pro. 

After we met in ’83, Kurt Cobain wanting to make a public connection to me, made a connection to Barkley.  This is not only because Barkley grew up in a small town near where I grew up in Trussville, but also because there is a city near where Kurt grew up in Washington also named Auburn.

I’ve mentioned that Courtney Love showed up in our lives in late ’84 looking for a part in the movie (Love Kills) Sid & Nancy.  Kurt asked her to have a picture taken which she claims was taken while still a teenager at Hillcrest juvenile hall and I do believe that is Kurt in the picture with her.  Her hair is dyed red, almost the color of mine.

In 1993 Barkley was asked to appear on SNL with Nirvana.

 Kurt also made mention of me is in his journal “At peace ami. You’re a good one.”  Kurt was a self proclaimed bad speller.

There is one more connection to Auburn and that is to Michael Hutchence.  Hutch was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.  Auburn is a suburb in western Sydney and named after Oliver Goldsmith’s poem The Desserted Village, which describes ‘Auburn’ in England as the loveliest village of the plain.


Theory of a Deadman

In ’78 my family up and moved to Mesquite, Texas where I attended J.C. Rugel Elementary and my older brother attended  North Mesquite High School, where model Jerry Hall went to high school.   I was put into advanced classes and Spanish was a required course.  My best friend was a little Mexican boy named Jose.  We would sit on the curb after school and I would try to speak Spanish. 

The Mexican culture affected me greatly.  Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a celebration on November 1st and 2nd where family and friends gather to remember loved ones who have died.  Tradition includes building alters honoring the deceased placing sugar skulls, marigolds (inspiring Dave Grohl of Nirvana to write the song Marigold), and the favorite food and beverages of the departed, as well as, visiting graves with these as gifts.

While sitting between Michael Hutchence and Adam Ant I made up the song Deadman’s Party and No One Lives Forever which I mentioned in an earlier post.  Both bands  had a very distinctive sound, INXS being more Ska New Wave with Adam & The Ants being Punk Rock and New Wave.  Once I had an idea, a song most of the time would just spill out.  It was my way of conveying what I really couldn’t vocalize and veil it in song.  They would record me singing it and I would go over the rest (the instrumental part) with the other artists like Kurt or members of Def Leppard.

We talked about my brother coming home one day loaded with test tubes, I always figured he stole them from school.  My dad and brother set off to buy a bushel of grain to try their hand at making grain alcohol.  What they produced was a clear almost tasteless liquid.  From this conversation I made up the song Weird Science.  

Weird science!

Plastic tubes and pots and pans

Bits and pieces and

Magic from the hand

We’re makin’

Weird science!

Things I’ve never seen before

Behind bolted doors

Talent and imagination

Since Joe Elliott was standing in the doorway of a dressing room behind me as I made up songs, there was a reference to Def Leppard’s song Bringin’ On The Heartbreak and Photograph  as pictures.

 Weird science!

Pictures from a magazine

Diagrams and charts

Mending broken hearts (and makin’)

Weird science!

Something like a recipe

Bits and pieces . . . .

Bits and pieces . . . .

Bits and Pieces is a 1960’s song originally written and performed by members of  The Dave Clark Five.  The Supremes recorded a cover in 1964 (Diana Ross being a member who was a longtime friend of Michael Jackson), and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts recorded a cover for their 1981 album.  I am a huge Joan Jett & The Blackhearts fan.

Later I learned from a girlfriend about Alabama’s history in NASCAR racing starting with bootleggers.  Her family had a long line of bootleggers back in the day and most of my friends were known to go to Talladega Superspeedway for the races.   NASCAR racers Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, and Red Farmer were known as the Alabama Gang.  I told Tom Cruise about my friend which inspired Days of Thunder.

The idea for the band Theory of a Deadman came years later while I was writing songs which the band performs, including Low Life.  The band name came from talking to Michael Jackson about the Big Bang Theory and from the song Deadman’s Party.

Low Life performed by Theory of a Deadman even mentions Joe Elliott with me referring to him as Joe Dirt which inspired the 2001 movie.


Oh! Pretty Woman

In ’82 Van Halen released a cover of Roy Orbison’s song Oh!, Pretty Woman on their Diver Down album.  This is one album my brother had and I loved.  My favorites being the cover of Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now) and Hang ‘Em High.  But, my all time favorite cover of Van Halen’s is Ice Cream Man, which Tommy Lee seemed to enjoy whenever I would sing it. 

Joe Elliott started paperwork getting a passport for me in the summer of ’83.  It was unknown to me his intentions, but when I returned from my grandmother’s funeral, my adopted mother’s mother, in Georgia the first of Oct ’83 everyone seemed to be upset about my disappearance. 

I told them of my grandmother’s long battle with Leukemia which she had been in remission with for years.  Joe wanted to do a movie about it, knowing I had also been babysitting off and on during the summer for a little girl in remission from Leukemia.  Kurt Cobain spoke up knowing my cousin had Type 1 Diabetes and worked for Xerox.  Of course, Kurt was a walking Encyclopedia of music and knew that Zerox was an early Adam & The Ants song.  There is actually an early home movie of Kurt trying to tear up a copy machine.   http://youtu.be/NxS_55Ql1Ks  While discussing the idea Joe came up with the title naming it Steel Magnolias released in ’89.

My adopted father’s mother, Isabel, a redhead herself, once owned a  beauty shop named Belle’s House of Beauty in Texas.   The picture is of my brother getting his first haircut.  This is where they got the idea for the beauty shop in Steel Magnolias and also name the character Belle Marmillion.

Tom Cruise would go on to adopt a little girl with Nicole Kidman and name her Isabella.

Kurt Cobain later would talk about how Nirvana would practice above a beauty shop in the early years.  My grandmother’s birthday, February 24, also happened to be the day Kurt and Courtney got married in 1992.

(My grandmother’s Social Security Card application)

 Michael Jackson knew I loved the tv show Beauty and the Beast which ran from 1987 to 1990 starring “Linda Carroll” Hamilton (Courtney Love’s mother’s name is supposedly Linda Carroll) as Belle and Ron Perlman as the Beast Vincent.  Linda Hamilton is the ex-wife of film director James Cameron (this is important and will post about the development of Titanic later).  Disney put into production the development of Belle about this time and released the animated Beauty and the Beast in 1991. 

Sometime during all of this the actor Eric Roberts found out what was going on and invited to Alabama to meet me.  His motive was in looking for scripts for his sister, Julia, another redhead. 

Plans for a trip were rescheduled for the weekend before Halloween which fell on a Monday.  I didn’t know this would mean skipping a day of school.  They dressed me in a brunette wig and large sunglasses and we left on Joe’s private plane.  We arrived in Dublin and Joe took off through customs and the airport ahead of us being mobbed by paparazzi.  I heard Kurt ask if Joe had let them know he was arriving.  Joe gave a quick interview distracting them while we finished in customs then climbed into a Range Rover.  We climbed into the Range Rover parked behind his.

The home was large, but not quite what one would call a mansion by today’s standards.  It had a mortar and rock facade in a very European style.  Joe met us at the door and came up behind me putting his hands over my eyes leading me through the front hall into the main living area.  When he took his hands away I was staring at green rolling hills through a window that spanned the length of the room.  The window was made up of panes of beveled glass which obscured the view some.  I gasped as a white hairy beast rounded one of the green mounds charging toward the home.  At first I thought it was a horse.  A few seconds later this mud covered behemoth was sitting on the white marble in front of me.  This is when I realized it wasn’t a horse at all but a dog, a Great Pyrenees actually.

Development of the script for the ’90 movie Pretty Woman was well under way on this trip and changes were being made.  Joe decided to use Lauren Bacall’s dress in the 1944 film adaption of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not as inspiration for the “hooker dress”.


Imaginary Origin

I linger in the doorway

Of alarm clock screaming

Monsters calling my name

Let me stay

Where the wind will whisper to me

Where the raindrops, as they’re falling, tell a story

Like most American children I grew up watching Sesame Street with my favorite character being the supposed imaginary friend of Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus.  In 1985, 20/20 and 60 Minutes aired a graphic piece about pedophiles and sexually abused children.  Because of this, the writers of Sesame Street decided to finally introduce Snuffy to the main human cast feeling that children might keep quiet about being abused if they felt adults would not believe them.

I had called Kurt Cobain my imaginary friend and would introduce him as John to friends (while he was still unknown).  I would often find things missed placed in my room and not realize Kurt had moved it or even taken it.  It was years before I found out he kept a hair barrette I wore as a little girl with him.  He was also known to change my alarm so I would be late getting up for school.  Most of the time he would just let himself into the house on days he was in town.  I sometimes would walk in finding him feeding my cat or giving her milk.  If you haven’t noticed we both had a thing about cats, naming his Spina Bifida.  When I told him I thought of him as my imaginary friend, he told me I was his and gave me the name Boddah.  Later making the tape of him sounding like a little boy calling for his friend Boddah and then addressing his suicide note to me.

I’ve had some WOW! moments in my life.  One would be hanging with Robert Downey, Jr. while he read lines for a movie and later pitching the idea for him to play the role as Ironman’s Tony Stark.  Another would be Michael Jackson bringing Elizabeth Taylor to meet me.  It was during a time that Richard Burton, her ex-husband, had been very ill.  She kept in touch with him and talked about him a lot that day, reminiscing about their love affair and his affairs.  Unfortunately, Burton passed away August 5, 1984. 

Taylor had starred along with Paul Newman in the ’58 movie Cat On A Hot Tin Roof based on another play by Tennessee Williams (A Street Car Named Desire inspiring Heart Shaped Box, see earlier post).  I told Taylor that Kurt Cobain reminded me a lot of a young Paul Newman in looks.  Kurt didn’t always play the part of the grunge rocker and was actually a very goodlooking guy.

“One of those no-neck monsters hit me with some ice cream” – Maggie The Cat

Not only did I use “monsters” in the lyrics for Imaginary, but it inspired songwriter Draco Rosa’s “Maggie’s Dream” and my artist Lady Gaga calling fans “monsters”.  Draco and I worked on songs for Ricky Martin and others together.

Using different flowers in songs was inspired by the Swiss band Krokus having been on the Rock Till You Drop tour with Def Leppard.  Joe Elliott claims his birthday as August 1st, being the same day in 1981 MTV came online.  This would make his birthflower a Poppy.  Kurt used the image of paper poppy flowers in Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box music video.

 “And watch my purple sky fly over me (flowers)”

This was to draw a direct connection to the song Purple Rain, which I wrote for Prince.

I would go on to make up the song Paper Sun which was released on Def Leppard’s ’99 Euphoria album. 

The lyrics to Paper Sun,  “Is the anger inside of you A gift from father to son” was inspired by the ’87 movie Like Father Like Son, as well as the British band Queen’s ’74 song “Father to Son”. 

Several times in the song Paper Sun I reference another song I wrote, Coming Undone performed by another band I founded named Korn.

Keep holdin’ on when
My brain’s tickin’ like a bomb

The bomb was taken from Pour Some Sugar On Me “Love is like a bomb”

 Guess the black thoughts have
Come again to get me
Sweet bitter words

Sweet bitter words is for 3 song I wrote, one being Sweet Sacrifice, an early song I wrote for INXS named Bitter Tears, and the other being Bittersweet Symphony performed by The Verve.

Unlike nothing I have heard
Sing along mocking bird
You don’t affect me

To Kill A Mockingbird, is a Southern Gothic novel written by Alabama native Harper Lee.

I made reference to my song Change performed by The Deftones, but Kurt Cobain made reference to the lyrics in Bittersweet Symphony “I am here in my mold” in his lyrics for Mexican Seafood.

 “To a fungus mold is my injection”