Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Witch: Softer, Softest

Hole: Softer, Softest

I’ve written before about my admiration for Hole’s album Live Through This, and in that piece, I summarized Courtney Love’s difficult life, so I won’t repeat the details here, except to note that if her life has been marked by addiction, wild behavior and anger, she came by it honestly. She is someone that I have found fascinating but not always in a good way. But I think that she has produced a bunch of good music over her career. There has been a lot written by young women who identify with her anger, her pain, and her attitude, and as an older man, I can’t understand her music the same way, but I don’t think you can listen to Live Through This without being moved by it.

“Softer, Softest” is a song that I really hadn’t paid much attention to, but in researching this piece, I think that it is one of the most poignant songs on the album. Introducing the song on MTV Unplugged in 1995, Love stated that it was “about the girl that always smelled like pee in your class, and she was me," so clearly it is autobiographical. The song’s lyrics appear to be about an abused girl, likely with the knowledge of her mother (or, at least, a female caregiver), because the litany of abuse is interrupted with the following lines:

Burn the witch 
The witch is dead 
Burn the witch 
Just bring me back her head 

This is, of course, heartbreaking, and I don’t really think that there’s much more to say, other than, listen to the song.

Instead, let’s discuss whether Courtney Love is a witch, an issue which has a certain amount of currency on the Internet, with a number of sites claiming that she definitely is, although others point out that she has publicly discussed Buddhist chanting. I don’t know enough about witches to know whether you can be one and be a Buddhist. At the same MTV Unplugged show, Hole covered Donovan’s “Season of the Witch,” although it wasn’t televised at the time, and was only released later. (That would be a good song to discuss in this theme, but Seuras Og already did so a couple of years ago, linking to Hole’s version). Love is friendly with Stevie Nicks, who has written songs about witches (and Love has covered “Gold Dust Woman,” Cover Me's No. 1 Fleetwood Mac cover of all time), but I’m not sure that is really evidence. Also, when she performed on Later... With Jools Holland in 1995, Love introduced a song by mentioning that she had “hexed” a “jerk” who was now losing his hair (probably former boyfriend Billy Corgan).  No one, to my knowledge, has tried to determine whether she weighs as much as a duck. Although she has dressed up as Donald Duck.

Love’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain has been pictured wearing what appears to be a Wiccan moon necklace, her Instagram user name is “space_witch666, and her Twitter handle is “The_Space Witch.” Of course, her daughter’s beliefs aren’t necessarily those of her mother’s, a distinction that Love, considering her childhood (and the lyrics to “Softer, Softest”), would probably agree with.