Pascal Derrien

4 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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I am reading a book called '' This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl '' by Paul Branningan. Paul is a rock journalist who met Grohl more than two decades ago. It is a pretty good read I must say. Dave is a few years older than me but I can recognize some elements of myself in how music and the discovery of the punk hard core scene in particular helped him to forge a very strong and solid set of values. Those served him well over the years leading him to become the person he is today. But as I reach pages 146 or 147 of the book I know dark vibes will start to cloud the story as the author cannot escape unfolding a few dark chapters where Nirvana and Kurt Cobain in particular spiralled into overnight success, fame, heroine, ODs and ultimately the suicide of Cobain in Rome. 

Kurt was a complex individual, I kind of think of him as being very spiritual in his own way but intense and utterly driven. He had an obsession in standing out from the crowd which was in complete contradiction from the underground scene he was coming from. He was and would not be the last rock icon to depart from this world in such a dramatic fashion. In 2017 alone Chester Bennington or Chris Cornell namely committed the irreparable too.

Did those guys have anything in common or were they subject to similar patterns? I am no shrink but past elements of depression and the substance abuse cliche they were all coming from dysfunctional families. Those sons of divorcees shared some troubling similarities insofar that they had developed at a very young age a strong aspiration and eagerness to be found. Later in life they almost thrived at the game of hide and seek with society, a dangerous game where fame and recognition would ultimately lead them to a point of no return. 

They got bigger than their own personas and ended up having huge difficulties to cope with their status. From the outside it could have been seen as self inflicted hysteria but I think for Chris, Kurt and Chester it was probably more a question of being trapped on a destructive path without having access to any emergency exits.

Death sells, A&R managers and other voracious label marketers rarely pass the opportunity to exploit the love and fascination the public have for music martyrs. T-shirts, live bootlegs, goodies of any shape or form including albums re-issues are making sure you can purchase and acquire the ultimate death by procuration experience. It does not really matter if it does involve spoiling the artist legacy, Jeff Buckley for example has released more music material dead than when he was alive. How daft is this? 

Suicide sells better, drugs a bit less, choking in your own puke like Bon Scott is probably at the end of the pecking order but you can always rely on the creativity of the corporate labels to romanticize dramatic stories. Anything in order to squeeze every single dollar out of established or wanna be rock stars memorabilia.

Sometimes corporations kill their customers too and I am not talking Big Pharma here, Judas Priest's CBS pumped thousands of dollars in legal costs making sure the industry would not be held responsible for the suicide linked to the song Beyond the Realms of Death.

Icons like Jim Morrison, Prince or Bennington will continue to trigger the inner combustion engine of young talented individuals, their narrative will influence boys and girls of different generations, they will fascinate and incentivize tortured souls to pick up guitars, write songs and make music.

But make no mistake it is not, it has never been and will never be about the music, be under no illusion because it could be potatoes or socks corporate labels only care about returns on investments. 

If you have any ounce of naivety left in you I would like to share a quote taken from the visionary lyrics of a song written by the defunct Four Horsemen on their first album. 

Rockin is ma business and business is good !!!!


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Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #21

ah thank you Joyce \ud83d\udc1d Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee :-) Much appreciated

Wow, Pascal Derrien. Beautifully said. Wonderful prose.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #19


Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #18

yeah true had not thought about RS kind of survivors they are 😀Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

Ah, dreams of the young and musically gifted don't always end well, unfortunately. Fame isn't meant for everyone and holding on to fame can be difficult. There's always the fear that your popularity will take a dive. We lose too many entertainers to drugs and alcohol, and before their time. I amazed by older groups, in age and popularity, that can remain relevant. Long live The Rolling Stones.

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #16

WIth no empirical or cultural evidence or understanding i would say that the artists of my generation (Boomers) were accidental artists. They had a song and story just wanted to sing it. Today's commercial one hit wonder bands seem to be the product of the machine. Hell Americans got sold a pet rock and sofas to lay them on. Marketing at its finest. Most importantly the drama of the musical, paralleled some of our own dramas and allowed us kindred moments. The ears in today's video world are a neglected appendage, that in my youth i didn't need visual stimulation i could see the video of the artist in my mind. I retreat there often and remember the days that imagination was king and artists could fuel the journey.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #15

absolute value versus commercial return don't we hate it becomes clear music is just a commodity 🎶😩 Thanks Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #14

I walked into my my big box retailer one day and saw "my" music on sale, what a glorious day. I was able to add to the CD collection over the next months as all "my" music was on sale. One day i walked in and realized that "my" music really wasn't on sale but had been relegated to the bargain bin. The follow up realization was, like "my" music i was old. So in an effort to retain my youth i began to sample the new music. I tried, i really did, but it was like a bag of potato chips that once opened was empty. Being my deep thinking self i reviewed and compared what the difference was between the music of "mine" and "theirs". "My" music was born from a tortured life that through music the story was told. The instruments and singers seemed to be telling the story through some time space continuum that i aligned with, or maybe the chemicals added that part. "Their" music was commercially produced to try and artificially produce a persona of a tortured life. It would appear that pain and suffering produce the music that survives the latest heart throb singer. Great read and thanks for the memories and thoughts.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #13

Devesh \ud83d\udc1d Bhatt exactly vastly a western world issue only , a big issue in rich countries an insignificant one in the grand scheme of things :-(

Devesh 🐝 Bhatt

4 years ago #12

Maybe it is not the fame. Maybe they think success can make it better. Then they realise, it is the same bullshit everywhere all the time. But they would think differently about it. You thought differently about it. But Some corporate psycho may even put this into a spin. many places in this world is bullshit spirals into shameless ignorance. where people die for the most insignificant of reasons, no one cares cause they had no talent to show for. They weren't starving or sick or deprived of basic amenities, their lives and deaths were both governed by the shamelessness of the rest.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #11

it's the never ending journey of the grass is greener elsewhere syndrome, in the case of Cobain in particular once he reached his goal he found out he had ended up in a nightmare where even his artistry was manipulated in turn it did accelerate his addcition and we all know what happened next Ian Weinberg :-(

Ian Weinberg

4 years ago #10

I believe you've nailed it Pascal Derrien That's the plot and the same script plays through each time. I'd often wondered why there was so much talent among those with the greatest nurture deprivation. I guess they needed to seek alternative gratification in some activity and hence emerged a talent. But with this came low self-esteem and the belief that they were less important than others - the full low resilience talent package! Perfect cannon fodder for the fat-fingered corporates to exploit and discard. Who ever said that there was justice in the world?

Ian Weinberg

4 years ago #9

I believe you'll nailed it Pascal Derrien That's the plot and the same script plays through each time. I'd often wondered why there was so much talent among those with the greatest nurture deprivation. I guess they needed to seek alternative gratification in some activity and hence emerged a talent. But with this came low self-esteem and the belief that they were less important than others - the full low resilience talent package! Perfect cannon fodder for the fat-fingered corporates to exploit and discard. Who ever said that there was justice in the world?

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #8

thanks Debasish Majumder good to hear :-)

Debasish Majumder

4 years ago #7

i am always fascinated with your buzz Pascal Derrien. enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #6

Indeed , Grohl had only joined the band on their second album coming from Scream he had a huge reputation as a drummer though in the circuit , he started working on his music while sharing a house with Kurt, was it self preservation or instinct but he sheltered himself well from the Courtney/Kurt circus :-) Once Sub Pop their initial label had to let them go (but took a big cheque) things started to go haywire :-(

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #5

Thanks for this buzzing blog post, Pascal. I have a few thoughts, as a big fan of both Nirvana and the Foo Fighters: 1) Last night, MTV again featured the Foo Fighters epic 2009 concert at Wembley Stadium in the UK. One of the big surprises occurred when Jimmy Page came on as a special guest to jam a Led Zeppelin song with the band. Awesome! 2) Nirvana peaked during the early 1990s when I was in college. Back then, Dave Grohl was a very young drummer who wasn't really part of the Nirvana media spotlight with all the focus on Kurt and Courtney Love. However, he patiently waited until it was his time to shine later as the front man with the Foo Fighters. This serves as a good lesson about being modest, humble and leaving the spotlight to others until it shines on you. 3) Like so many famous musicians and artists before him, Kurt was a tortured soul. However, his creativity and musical genius spoke volumes about what was inside of the man, which he poured out through his lyrics and music. May he RIP. 4) Nirvana's big hit single back then -- "Smells Like Teen Spirit" -- alluded to a mass of young people (Gen Xers) who were perceived as disillusioned, disconnected and self-absorbed slackers. Ironically, this is the same as how some media have misportrayed Millennials.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #4

I concur with your points the emergence of indie labels give room for breathing temporarily but they are no fit in terms of scale, as for the tortured minds fame is a calamity .... :-) cheers CityVP \ud83d\udc1d Manjit

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #3

thanks Gert Scholtz I remember a big cheese from Sony Music telling me about the second band I managed '' your guys are really good and way above the average but your band lead is a liability ,he will not last two albums and we will lose money therefore.....'' :-)

CityVP Manjit

4 years ago #2

Fame is a horrible bubble that the most sensitive of beings can spin in and submerge in its vortex. Would Kurt Cobain have killed himself if his depression was not further enhanced by the spin of fame, that we don't know but we do know that Cobain hated being famous, yet loved his art. This twin condition is a love and hate relationship that depression turns into a personal hurricane. The same is true for David Foster Wallace. It is true that pharmacological compounds can be a lightening rod of trouble themselves - big pharma has no claim to targeted therapy that have a single purpose and leave the rest of the body untouched, but there are signs that some research organizations are beginning to see the merits of natural remedies - one's human beings discovered through trial and error rather than FDA regulations - but it is a slow movement to that world because the profit motive wants IP protection on any discovery, that ironically was already discovered through trial and error, but which has not been accepted by western medicine chieftains. What we do know is that music should in theory have a great therapeutic effect, but it is the culture of profit that robs us from owning that as emotional protection and even musicians today are concerned about the theft of music through free distribution, and musicians do still need to make a living - but music culture also is a stifling piss pot where musicians have been robbed by the contracts lawyers bound them to - so whether it is piracy that robs them or corporate landlords - it is indeed a helter-skelter world to be a famous rock musician. Worse today is the rise of artists worth more dead than alive, which begs to question whether Micheal Jackson and Prince died because of bizarre circumstances, or profit motive. We just don't know.

Gert Scholtz

4 years ago #1

Pascal Derrien Insightful read Pascal, on complex and highly talented individuals in the music "business". Thank you.

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