Monday, April 4, 2011
FROM SNOWY PEAKS TO THE MUDDY BANKS
A late invitation provided me with the opportunity to go on my third and final hut trip of the ski season, the destination being the 10th Mountain Hut on the west side of Tennessee Pass. As is customary, I drove up the night before after packing the equipment into the truck. I had high expectations for good snow conditions, the central Rockies having received many inches of new during the course of the week since the powder at Loveland last weekend. This night I found a quiet parking spot near the Lake County landfill just outside Leadville, arriving sometime around 11:30 PM. A very mild evening, stomping out a smooth spot in the snow. Considering how late it was, I went right for the good stuff: a cigar, tequila and Nirvana. By the time it was all over, it was past 1AM. But I was up by 7 just to catch sunrise on the Sawatch Range to the west before heading into Leadville for breakfast.
My selection was From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, a compilation of live performances recorded from 1989 to 1994. Wikipedia says this about this release:
Wishkah was the second Nirvana album to be released following the death of singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain in April 1994. It was compiled primarily by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, who also penned the album's liner notes. Novoselic and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl had originally intended on releasing a live album in 1994, to accompany what became MTV Unplugged in New York in a two-disc set originally titled Verse Chorus Verse named after both a Nirvana song and the band's most prevalent song structure, but were emotionally unable to compile it so soon after Cobain's death. From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. The name itself refers to a river in Aberdeen, Washington where Cobain was said to have lived under a bridge for a time after dropping out of high school (as referenced in the song "Something in the Way").
Writing for Rolling Stone magazine two weeks after the release, Lorraine Ali praised the album's "emotional, visceral" side: a "bittersweet" combination of fury on some tracks, a lack of pretension with "freakouts" (carefully timed outbursts) on others, and an "awe-inspiring simplicity" on "Been a Son" and "Sliver." She was especially fond of Cobain's singing, which tied it all together because "Cobain's inflections speak volumes".
Hate those Saudi sheiks
But we're drunk on their sweet water
Bow and kiss their hand
Stars burning brightly
In the mountain night above
Suns in someones sky