Tag Archives: Kurt Cobain

If U Seek Amy

“My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time” – …Baby One More Time performed by Britney Spears

At fifteen, I  used the techniques Joe Elliott of Def Leppard taught me of taking songs I knew to draw upon for writing songs.  For “…Baby One More Time” performed by Britney Spears I was inspired by Pat Benatar’s 1980 hit song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.   Lyrically the song was inspired by Billy Squier’s “Lonely is the Night”, Shawn Cassidy’s ’78 cover of “Do You Believe in Magic”, and Roberta Flack’s 1979 cover of “Killing Me Softly”.  There are references to Prince, the song “The Beautiful Ones, and the funk ensemble The Time.  

The pseudonym Max Martin was devised with Max being one of the nicknames I gave Michael Hutchence of INXS for the Australian movie Mad Max.  Later Hutch would name his side project Max Q.    

The album “…Baby One More Time” would be released 16 years after written on my birthday, January 12, 1999.

Cobain can you hear the Spears singin’ songs off station to station” – Californication performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Taking a que from lyrics in “…Baby One More Time” Prince released the 1987 album “Sign “☮” the Times” and then changed his name to the “Love Symbol” knowing Amy means beLOVEd.

I chose the 2009 album title “Circus” which includes the single “If You Seek Amy”  for Def Leppard’s 1987 song “Animal” with the music video taking place at a circus as well as it being in the lyrics.

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Purple Rain Origin

“I never meant to cause you any sorrow.
I never meant to cause you any pain.
I only wanted to one time see you laughing.
I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain” – Purple Rain performed by Prince

The day my friends called to invite me to the Def Leppard concert, May 15, 1983, it was a typical Spring day in Alabama.  One minute it could be a beautiful sunny day, the next a storm brews and the skies turn grey.  By the time Mom and I left for church it had started raining. 

Not deterred when my normally curly hair turned to frizz, I straighten it again, going through half a can of Aqua Net hairspray.  I then changed into something more suitable for a rock concert, a favorite asymmetrical military style white top, my tightest Levi’s blue jeans .  The kind you have to lay down on the bed to zip up.  And, two favorite accessory of the time, my learner’s permit and a purple comb in the back pocket.  

Now, the comb had a use other than what it was intended for.  At the roller skating rink if a guy liked you, he would steal it from your pocket ensuing a chase around the rink so to retrieve your property.  Most of my girlfriend’s did this.  In fact, Kurt Cobain alluded to this in a fictitious story written in his journal. 

We pulled into the parking lot behind the Thriftway as other zombies slouch bobbed with combs in their back pockets.  There stood the Air Supply box boy holding a Les Paul with a picture from a magazine of Kool cigarettes lamenated on it, a mechanical redheaded biker boy and that tall lanky guy, the first to ever wear skin tight Levis.  A bold and brave change from stacking finger or San Francisco riding gear.  The played faster than I had ever imagined music could be played and with more energy than my Iron Maiden records could provide.  This was what I was looking for, ah punk band.  The other stones were bored and kept shouting, play some Def Leppard.” – Kurt Cobain’s Journal under the title “The Habit”

With the mention of zombies, Kurt was not only referring to Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video, but also to the stagename Rob Zombie whom I wrote songs for.

Joe (Elliott) found out I am a fan of Vanity 6, a girl group promoted by the artist Prince, which I had seen on Soul Train performing Nasty Girl released in 1982.  They then brought in Prince’s albums released up until that point for me to listen to and learn his style.  But, the song Nasty Girl would influence many more songs which I would be involved in writing, including Michael Jackson’s little sister’s 1986 Nasty.

I make reference to the “purple comb” in the lyrics for Erotic City.

Everytime I comb my hair
Thoughts of U get in my eyes
U’re a sinner, I don’t care
I just want your creamy thighs”

The Lyrics for “The Beautiful Ones’ I allude to Def Leppard’s Photograph.

MAKE LOVE NOT WAR


Cocktails & Dreams

I am the last barman poet.  I see America drinking the fabulous cocktails I make.  Americans getting stinky on something I stir or shake.   The sex on the beach, the schnapps made from peach, the velvet hammer, the Alabama slammer...” – Tom Cruise in 1988 Cocktail

The “poem” alludes to “you’ve got the peaches” used in the lyrics for Pour Some Sugar On Me which I co-wrote with Joe Elliott.  I also used “peach and black” in the lyrics for U Got The Look performed by Prince & Sheila E.  The rest is taken from the University of Alabama college football cheer “Rammer jammer, yellowhammer, give’em hell Alabama.”

Tom and I were discussing the plot for the movie, before the script was written.  He asked what I would name the bar and off the top of my head said, “Cocktails & Dreams”. 

There are only a few people who really know how proud I have been to watch Tom’s career over the years and he made me feel a part of it.  It’s not something I talk about, except in letting his career inspire me when coming up with new songs.  One such song happen to be “Raise Your Glass” performed by Pink.

“Right, right, turn off the lights
We’re gonna lose our minds tonight
What’s the dealio?
I love when it’s all too much
5 a.m. turn the radio up
Where’s the rock ‘n roll?”

“5 a.m” was a reference to Alarm Clock used in the lyrics for Imaginary performed by Evanescence and Tik Tok performed by Ke$ha.  This also lead into naming Nikki Sixx’s band Sixx A.M.

Even lines in the movie inspired verses in Raise Your Glass.  Bryan Brown as Doug:  “When you see the color of their panties, you know you’ve got talent. Stick with me son and I’ll make you a star.”

“Party crasher, panty snatcher
Call me up if you’re a gangsta
Don’t be fancy, just get dancy
Why so serious?”

The drink “Alabama Slammer” inspired the next line:

Slam, slam, oh hot damn
What part of a party don’t you understand?”


I wanna be a Rockstar! Nickelback Origin

In 1983 Joe Elliott released to the press he received a scar over one of his eyes due to a fan throwing a coin from the crowd in Spain during a concert.  It was his right eye and it wasn’t a coin. 

Knowing Joe released this to the press I started yelling at him, “I want my nickel back!” after making up a new song.  He would walk off smiling saying, “I know you do.”

I overheard someone ask why I said it was a nickel.  I bought a souvenir at  Rock City (see previous post “Legend Movie Origin”).   The souvenir was only a  nickel and in exchange received a wooden nickel back.   

It was then later decided to choose band members who were Canadian citizens due to the Canadian football position called a Nickelback.

“‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat
And we’ll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger’s
Gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny
With her bleach blond hair” – Rockstar performed by Nickelback

The song “Rockstar” was inspired by an article which Kurt Cobain showed me about Tom (Cruise) going to the Playboy Mansion to watch the Hagler-Hearns fight.  I was making fun of him and others when I made up the song.


Ode to the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Space may be the final frontier
But it’s made in a Hollywood basement
Cobain can you hear the Spears
Singing songs off station to station
And Alderaan’s not far away
It’s Californication” – Californication by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Like most Southerners, you could always find a bottle of chili peppers marinating in vinegar in our refrigerator ready at hand to sprinkle on what our hearts desired.  It was usually set out on the table after Mom cooked up a batch of turnip greens and even the occassional barbeque sandwiches.  

Kurt Cobain had a habit of raiding the refrigerator whenever he would show up and had noticed the bottle.  We all watched in amusement as he removed the cap and touched his tongue to it.  His face turned immediately red. 

Of course, Kurt also had to go through my record collection and there he found a rare rerelease of The Beatles St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album which a friend gave me Christmas 1978.  The musical film St. Peppers Lonely Heart’s Club Band was released in July of 1978 starring Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, Bee Gees, and many more.

Kurt and Joe knew of a band in California in need of a new name and the name “The Red Hot Chili Peppers” was suggested (1983).

Michael Hutchence suggested Kurt take me to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show one night at a local theater.  Hutch wanted me to see the movie because of one of the actresses was Aussie Nell Campbell.  The next thing I know, I am being dressed in a Dr. Frankenfurter costume and then pushed out onto the stage.  Just for fun I asked Tommy Lee for one of his socks.  I stuffed part of the sock into the front of the costume leaving part hanging out.  Everyone thought it was funny and Anthony Kiedis and Flea jumped up from the crowd and said they wanted to do that.  Not know what they had in mind, the world actually found out. 

I also remember hearing Kurt say there is an Adam & The Ants song called Dirk Wears White Sox released in 1979.

If you will look at the cover art for RHCP “One Hot Minute” it looks like a redhead not a brunette sitting at a piano, doesn’t it?

(Amy Lee Piano Recital, Dallas, TX, December 1978)


Velvet Revolver Origin

The name for the band Velvet Revolver came from the band The Velvet Underground managed by the artist Andy Warhol  and The Beatles ’66 album Revolver.  Even though the song Falling to Pieces was not released until 2004, I came up with the song between ’83 and ’84.  It had been a long day and I remember them pushing me really hard.  My clothes were soaked with sweat, but I was trying to be a trouper.  The whole time I felt like I was about to pass out.   

“I keep a journal of memories
I’m feeling lonely, I can’t breathe
I fall to pieces, I’m falling
Fell to pieces and I’m still falling” – Falling to Pieces performed by Velvet Revolver

The lyrics to the song inspired not only Kurt Cobain to write and publish his journals, but also Michael Hutchence of INXS to keep a journal.

The naming of the band is what influenced them to do the 1996 movie on the life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat with Courtney Love having a small role.


Lies of the Beautiful People Origin

“Well if you think real beauty’s on the outside
Well that’s a far cry
From the truth
Maybe all the information you received
Well you should not believe
There’s no proof
Save yourself from all the lies of the beautiful people
It’s time to run from the lies of the beautiful people” Lies of the Beautiful People performed by Sixx: A.M.

Not long after Joe Elliott and I met we were talking about my favorite Beatles song which happened to be Helter Skelter.  At the time I didn’t know of the California band by the name of Motley Crue who had been performing a cover of the song  which would be released in September of that year on the “Shout at the Devil” album. 

We talked about the meaning of the song and I found out there was actually an amusement ride called “Helter Skelter” in England.  I had a collection of Beatles songs which included the song, but not the White album which had been released the year I was born, 1968.  Joe proceed to tell me and Kurt Cobain the sordid history of the White album and the song. 

The term ‘helter skelter’ was far less well known in the US.  To the psychopath Charles Manson it was a coded prophecy for an apocalyptic race war (or Armageddon).  This is why Kurt at one point drew an “X” on his forehead and had his picture taken.  Def Leppard would release the song Armageddon It on the Hysteria album in 1987.

It wasn’t long after this discussion that I met Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue who in February of ’83 had performed at the US Fest in California with INXS.  (This is when Tommy Lee gave me the nickname Bullwinkle.)

Joe took some time off in June from the Rock Till You Drop tour, claiming a sore throat, while we all worked on new songs.   About this time Pete Willis left the band and they called in their friend Phil Collen of the band Girl to fill the vacancy.  They went back to California to the movie studios and filmed the original music video for Photograph with the stabbing knife at the beginning and using images of Marilyn Monroe.  Joe later made a second version with a black cat like mine at the beginning (see The Pussycat Dolls to Papa Don’t Preach post).

After coming up with the song The Beautiful People I also came up with the stagename “Marilyn Manson” for Def Leppard’s use of Marilyn Monroe in Photograph and the story about Helter Skelter and Charles Manson drawing a connection to Motley Crue.

This is also where I came up with the stagename for Eminem (M&M for Marilyn Manson) after writing songs which he would perform.  It was Michael Jackson’s suggestion for the spelling of the name.

I would go on to make up the song Beautiful performed by Christina Aguilera after Courtney Love gave me a compliment.  Courtney and I did not get along and it surprised me when I overheard the compliment.  So, in a turn of kindness I made up the song.  This song was based on ELO’s Don’t Bring Me Down.

Years later I would makeup a third song titled Lies of the Beautiful People and I asked Nikki Sixx if he would perform it so to tie into the other songs, The Beautiful People and Beautiful.  We then came up with the band name Sixx A.M. (A.M. being the first 2 letters of my name).


Origin of Pink’s Album Titles & Songs

“You make me sick
I want you and I’m hatin it
Got me lit like a candlestick
Get too hot when you touch the tip, I’m feelin it, I gotta getta grip
And it’s drivin me crazy baby don’t you quit
Can’t get enough of it
You got me goin again
Baby, you got me goin again
You make me sick” – You Make Me Sick performed by Pink

We listened to a lot of disco at the roller skating rink such as The Gap Band, Midnight Star, George Clinton & P-Funk, The Commodores, The Brothers Johnson, KC & The Sunshine Band, Richard Berry’s “Louis Louis” influenced many of the songs I wrote for my alter-egos.  These particular songs were also influenced by Joan Jett and Pat Benatar.  

The 2000 album and song “Can’t Take Me Home” was from 1983 Joe Elliott released an article about Def Leppard in Goldmine which the headline read, “The Heavy Metal Band You Can Bring Home to Mother.”

You Make Me Sick:  Kurt Cobain and I watched a lot of movies together.  Sometimes Michael Hutchence would be there when INXS had some down time.  On one of these occasions we watched the 1981 British comedy Time Bandits by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam.

Inspired by a conversation between the characters while sitting on the S.S. Titanic before it went down, Kevin said to Randell, “You make me sick!”

The 2001 album and song “Missunderztood” came from a headline about INXS in 1985 (see pic).

 Don’t Let Me Get Me: The other artists could not seem to understand why I didn’t want to be famous.  Only thing hold me back was stage fright and the struggle with how I might be perceived by my grandfather, the preacher.  Not knowing what they actually had in mind for me, I figured they would have just thrown me out there as the next Tiffany or Debbie Gibson which wasn’t me or the image I really would have wanted to project.  It was an inner struggle which I projected in the song.  I make reference also in the song to Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood.

Just Like A Pill: The idea for the song and is influenced by overhearing things after Rick Allen, Def Leppard’s drummer, wrecked his car December 31, 1984 and lost an arm and their song “You Got Me Running” from the High ‘n’ Dry album.

Get This Party Started: There was only one influence on this song and it was Michael Jackson’s friend Diana Ross who released the song “I’m Coming Out” in 1980.

Family Portrait:  It was a self-portrait of my family and somewhat had been happening up until my parents divorced in ’83.  I didn’t want parents to stay together, though at times I still missed my brother and dad after they moved out.

2003 album “Try This” 

Trouble:  This is just my take on the old saying, my middle name is trouble.  In the lyrics I make reference to Tom Cruise who starred in “The Firm” 1993.   

God Is A DJ: Pretty much self-explanatory.  I always liked to make up inspirational songs to not only get people moving, but in life as well. 

2006 “I’m Not Dead”

Stupid Girl: After meeting Hutch, knowing I didn’t want to be famous, he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  At fifteen I didn’t have a clue, but Mom always told me I could be anything I wanted to be even the first female President.  This song was heavily influenced by watching some of the females that would hook themselves up with the male artist looking for help with their careers. 

U + ur Hand: This was another version of a song I wrote when a kid.  The other was called Darling Nikki, named for Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue though it was not about him, and performed by Prince.  It was also inspired by Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail.  “I’m not here for your entertainment” was a take on “Let Me Entertain You” a song from the musical Gypsy.   After I came up with the song Kurt Cobain wrote the song “Smells Like Teen Spirits” if that tells you how long ago this song was written.

2008 “Funhouse”

Funhouse:  I wrote this song sometime after 1989.  The officials had been talking about tearing the Auditorium down where we worked on most of the songs.  I asked them to make it part of the museum.  Of course, the lyrics were inspired by Def Leppard’s Pyromania album and the song PhotographI also had become fascinated with the Cirque du Soleil performances which influenced the song, as well as, advertising art & pinup art.

So What: This happen to be written after I was married.  I remember Alecia reading the lyrics and asking, “I’ve got to get married?”   

Sober: I wrote this after “Call Me When Your Sober” performed by Evanescence and I make many references to Evanescence songs I wrote including “Broken”.

These are just a few I wanted to mention.


Michael Jackson’s Black or White Origin

“I Took My Baby
On A Saturday Bang
Boy Is That Girl With You
Yes We’re One And The Same
Now I Believe In Miracles
And A Miracle
Has Happened Tonight
But, If
You’re Thinkin’
About My Baby
It Doesn’t Matter If You’re
Black Or White” – Black or White

Michael Jackson’s song Black or White released in 1991 was inspired by INXS.  In 1982 INXS released a song titled Black and White on their Shabooh Shoobah album.  Of course, having met INXS before meeting MJ in ’83 I pretty much knew all their songs. 

With Michael Hutchence and Tim Farris, we talked about the similarities in our countries in that we shared a history of racism.  It was also a conversation I had with MJ.  Fortunately, I grew up in a South that was changing.  We talked about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Selma, Alabama.  I wanted to break down the barriers of symbols which were found offensive.  Symbols used in the Black or White music video were “KKK” and the swastika.

(Martin Luther King, Jr. and marchers on Selma, AL.  The photo was taken by family friend and fashion photographer Spider Martin who committed suicide 9 years to the day that Kurt Cobain’s body was found. )

By the time of MJ’s release of Black or White, I had written the song “Raise Your Glass” which would go on to be performed by P!nk.  Kurt Cobain would sometimes play air guitar while I would sing and it influenced “Raise Your Glass” and Macaulay Culkin was doing an imitation of Kurt in the Black or White music video.

Kurt also made references to the KKK or other symbols of controversy because of this.


Diamond Eyes Shinedown Origin

“I am the shadow, and the smoke in your eyes,
I am the ghost, that hides in the night” – Diamond Eyes performed by Shinedown

The idea for the song Diamond Eyes goes back to all the artists using an eye as cover art for the albums and even Michael Hutchence using it as the artwork for the movie Frankenstein Unbound. 

It also goes back even further to when I met Kurt Cobain.  I remember thinking he was the first person I had ever met with eyes like mine.  Being adopted I couldn’t look at the family who raised me and know my hair color was passed from a particular person or my eyes from another.  I told Kurt he was very lucky to be able to look at his family and know these things about himself.  

This was not the first time I had referenced someone’s eyes in a song.  When I wrote Mystify for INXS I was referring to Michael Hutchence’s brown eyes with, “almond looks”.   

Publicly Shinedown’s lead singer, Brent Smith, said this about the song:

“A few months ago we got a phone call from a very interesting individual. It’s not everyday that Rambo and Rocky call you at the same time. Sylvester Stallone wanted a song for his new movie, called The Expendables. He said write me something that will personify not only the South, but what rock truly is.”

Actually, this goes back to Tommy Lee of Motley Crue giving me the nickname Bullwinkle when I was 15 and William Grey taking the nickname “Rocky”.  The song itself was written long before a movie was developed called The Expendables starring Sylvester Stallone.   

This particular song has many ties to others, including The Deftones which I wrote the song “Change” for and the Foo Fighters song I wrote called “Walk”.  The lyrics “paper mountains” in Walk is a continuation of the theme “paper flowers” in Imaginary performed by Evanescence and “Paper Sun” a song I wrote for Def Leppard.