Why Kurt Cobain’s Posthumous Music Album Release is Not Ethical

“Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings,” is being released this week. The album, mostly rough demos sung by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, has sparked a debate over the ethics of releasing unfinished music of artists.

“Been a Son” and “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” are some of two of the 31 tracks on the deluxe version of The Home Recordings. The album has Kurt delivering monologues and play acting, punctuated by belches and flatulence.

Brett Morgen, who directed the documentary “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” has defended the new album by saying that fans will be interested in knowing about Kurt Cobain. The bleak documentary premiered on HBO in May this year.

“It’s a tribute to Kurt that his admirers and fans would feel protective of him,” Morgen recently told the New York Times. But, he said, “if you came across a sketch of ‘Guernica’ by Picasso, is there anyone saying we shouldn’t see it?”

Kurt Cobain is dead. He has been dead for a while now. Unlike fans of Elvis or Tupac, nobody believes that Cobain will be back anytime soon. So, whether or not somebody is rummaging about in his old demos should not bother anyone, let alone Cobain. The question, however, is whether it  is right for fans to indulge in the pleasure of listening to recordings that Cobain would probably not want the world to hear?

According to Chris Richards of the Washington Post, the album should not have been made at all, let alone be sold. In no less uncertain terms, Richards says,” As fans, we should feel discomfited listening to it, and as human beings, we should feel shame paying money for it.”

How close to reality is the documentary Montage of Heck? Back in June this year, Buzz Osbourne of The Melvins and long-time friend of Kurt said that around 90% of the documentary was fake.

“People need to understand that 90 percent of Montage of Heck is bullshit. Total bullshit,” he said in a review of the film for The Talkhouse.

According to Osbourne, the filmmakers did not fact-check Kurt and Courtney Love’s statements while making the documentary. “Unfortunately, it matters very little what the facts are; what matters is what people believe. And when it comes to Cobain, most of what they believe is fabricated nonsense. Montage of Heck does nothing to counter that,” he added, according to Rolling Stone.

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