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Courtney Love released her definitive artistic statement four days after her husband Kurt Cobain shot himself in the head, and she called the album Live Through This. In terms of morbidly cosmic coincidences, that’s up there with Biggie Smalls naming his second album Life After Death and then dying before its release, or the Ultimate Warrior showing up on Monday Night Raw to make a speech about how he’ll live forever because the fans are his storytellers and then suddenly dropping dead less than 24 hours later. It’s the sort of thing where you want to read hidden messages into the album’s title, and into the album itself, turning it into a document of a famous widow’s grief even if she recorded it before she knew what to grieve. And parts of the album are certainly about Cobain, who was alive when Love’s band Hole recorded it — he sang backup on a couple of songs — but who was not exactly living the healthiest of lives. “They really want you, but I do too,” Love sang on “Doll Parts,” in what has to be the best evocation of what it was like to be in Cobain’s life at that time. But truthfully, Live Through This isn’t about Cobain, and it isn’t about grief or drugs or suicide or depression, either. It’s an album about defiance and survival, about the challenge of operating with a functional bullshit detector, about identifying the ideas and people that aren’t working for you and sneeringly jettisoning them from your life. It’s about, as SPIN put it at the time, using rock stardom as revenge against the entire world. It’s a masterful piece of work, and 20 years after its release, it still sounds like an emotional smoking crater...

Hole’s Live Through This came out 20 years ago today.

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