If you could have one person in musical history make a mixtape for you who would it be? Mozart? Elvis? How about Kurt Cobain? If you said Kurt Cobain, you are in luck because someone has unearthed Cobain’s “Montage of Heck” an elaborate mix tape the future rock icon created in 1988, way before his band Nirvana hit it big. He created the tape using only a four track cassette recorder to splice together a collection of songs from his personal record collection, radio recordings, sound effects and even a few early Nirvana demos. Any kid from the 80’s and 90’s knows that making a mix tape was a rite of passage. Mix tapes were a labor of love before the days of the Internet when you could download a hundred songs and audio files in a few minutes. “Kids today!”
Well this is appropriate.
I’m a big Cobain/ Nirvana fan myself but was expecting a “Kurt Cobain Mixtape” to feature a bunch of underground punk and grunge bands that I had never heard of and only the “hipsters” from back in the day would have known about. To the contrary Cobain includes an eclectic mix of bands from a variety of genres including well known acts like Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Metallica and The Jackson Five.
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Give the “tape” a listen!
What stands out with Cobain’s collection from the typical cassette mashup like the one you gave Cindy Palmer in eighth grade and she broke up with you because you included Boyz II Men- (Why did you include Boyz II Men!) is that Cobain artfully includes his own artistic blend of musical choices and sound effect weirdness. On my mix tapes as a kid I’d always accidently cut the end of the song off or leave the DJ from the radio rambling about nonsense out of context. Now you can hear Kurt’s nonsense and it’s way cooler because he’s the guy that sang Smells Like Teen Spirit and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Here is a list of the songs on the tape. Take a listen and let us know what you think!
“The Men In My Little Girl’s Life” by Mike Douglas
“The Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” by The Beatles
“A Day In The Life” by The Beatles
“Eruption” by Van Halen
“Hot Pants” by James Brown
“Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” by Cher
“Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
“Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver
“Everybody Loves Somebody” by Dean Martin
“The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr.
“In A Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly
“Wild Thing” by William Shatner
“Taxman” by The Beatles
“I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family
“Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?” by The Barbarians
“Queen Of The Reich” by Queensryche
“Last Caress/Green Hell” covered by Metallica
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
“Get Down, Make Love” by Queen
“ABC” by The Jackson Five
“I Want Your Sex” by George Michael
“Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden
“Eye Of The Chicken” by Butthole Surfers
“Dance of the Cobra” by Butthole Surfers
“The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave” by Butthole Surfers
“New Age” by The Velvet Underground
“Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue
Orchestral music from 200 Motels by Frank Zappa
“Help I’m A Rock” / “It Can’t Happen Here” by Frank Zappa
“Call Any Vegetable” by Frank Zappa
“The Day We Fall In Love” by The Monkees
“Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath (intro)
Theme from The Andy Griffith Show
Mike Love (of The Beach Boys) talking about “Transcendental Meditation”
Excerpts of Jimi Hendrix speaking at the Monterey Pop Festival
Excerpts of Paul Stanley from KISS’ Alive!
Excerpts of Daniel Johnston screaming about Satan
Excerpts from sound effects records
Various children’s records (Curious George, Sesame Street, The Flintstones, Star Wars).
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney