HoleLive Through This by Anwyn Crawford
Her intelligence, ambition and appetite for
confrontation has made her a target in a music
industry still dominated by men. As Kurt Cobain's wife
she was derided as an opportunistic groupie; as his
widow she is pitied, and scorned, as the madwoman
in rock's attic. Yet Hole's second album, Live Through
This, awoke a feminist consciousness in a generation
of teenage girls.
Live Through This arrived in 1994, at a tumultuous point in the history of
American music. Three years earlier, Nirvana's Nevermind had broken
open the punk underground, and the first issue of a zine called Riot Grrrl
had been published. Hole were of this context and yet outside of it: too
famous for the strict punk ethics of riot-grrrl, too explicitly feminist to be
the world's biggest rock band. And then Kurt Cobain shot himself, four
days before the album's scheduled release.
Live Through This is an album about girlhood and motherhood; desire
and disgust; self-destruction and survival. There have been few rock
albums before or since so intimately concerned with female experience.
The album is a key document of third-wave feminism, but the conditions
that produced its particular aesthetic have disappeared. So where did
the energy of that feminism go? And why is Courtney Love's
achievement as a songwriter and musician still not taken seriously,
nearly twenty years on?