When Hole’s third album, Celebrity Skin, was first released, there was no way I was going to purchase it. I simply refused to give Courtney Love any of my money. I did not like her at all. I felt that she was a large reason for Kurt Cobain’s death, she was intolerable, and she milked her husband’s success to push herself into the spotlight of fame and notoriety. To this day, I still feel that way, but not as strongly as I did back in 1998.
Yet, after the release of Celebrity Skin my best friend purchased the album immediately, which drastically affected my decision making process. Tommy and I would spend endless nights driving to Hoboken and other such places to drink at all of the local hot spots (and maybe meet a young woman or two in the process). Since he was obsessed with Celebrity Skin, it was played constantly during these rides.
The more the album was shoved down my throat, the more I came to realize how exceptional it was. Despite my feelings for Courtney Love, I enjoyed listening to Celebrity Skin over and over again during those long night rides. It got to a point where I would slide into the passenger seat of Tommy’s car and immediately dig up the CD and put it into the player. I had to hear it. Yet, I was still torn and still refused to give Courtney Love my money. The only way I would listen to the record was if it was someone else’s.
In the spring of 1999, I had to take a business trip to the San Francisco area. It was my first time on the West Coast, and even though I was making the trip to inform our West Coast office they were being shut down, I was generally excited. It was a chance to see California and learn what the west was all about. I planned to enjoy it all after the stated mission was accomplished.
I arrived in San Francisco in the early part of the afternoon the day before I had to deliver the horrendous information. I drove from the hotel where I was staying to the office to ensure that I would know how to get there in the morning, and then I had the rest of the day/night free to do whatever I wanted. I decided to drive around the San Francisco area and see what they had to offer. During this drive I passed a gigantic record store. I immediately pulled over and parked the car.
In 1999, I was a music buying machine, and I guess to a certain degree, I still am, but back then I was known to drop over a hundred dollars anytime I visited a CD store, and I made frequent trips. Finding a record store on the left coast was akin to seeing a familiar face in a far off land. It was still early. I had a credit card in my hand, plenty of time to shop, and an amazing selection to choose from. It was time to purchase some music that I could enjoy for the rest of that trip.
The store was enormous with endless albums to choose from and I spent well over two hours in there, browsing, previewing, and enjoying the music. There was even a used section that took up almost half of the store. To me, it was Heaven! As I strolled through the aisles of the used merchandise, an interesting and familiar album caught my eye. Celebrity Skin. I hadn’t heard the record for a few weeks (Tommy and I had moved on to something else by that point, Kid Rock, I think), and of course, I didn’t own a copy. I thought how wonderful it would be to drive around California on a spring evening listening to that record. I rationalized that I wouldn’t be breaking my integrity either, because the album was used, meaning Courtney Love would not get a dime from that sale. It would all go to the CD store. With that clarity in place, I added Celebrity Skin to my growing stack of music and continued to shop.
The decision was a solid one on my part. As soon as I got back out to the rented vehicle, I put Celebrity Skin in the stereo and let it rip. Having absolutely no plans that evening, I drove around aimlessly, listening to song after song after song and loving the California weather. And although it was just me, the open road, and that album, it was a special night. I bonded with the music and Northern California. I don’t know where I drove to or how far I travelled, but I know that night was an amazing evening of musical bliss. “Malibu” was played several times because I felt it was fitting (even though I was several hundred miles away from the city). Regardless of the distance, it just seemed appropriate.
The remainder of the trip was spent closing the office, seeing the sites, and listening to Celebrity Skin constantly. It just brought me a feeling of home. Even now, when I dust that disc off and give it a few spins, it still takes me back to the nights in Hoboken and my first trip to California. It’s funny how quickly music can do that. With “Malibu” playing in my ears I can close my eyes and instantly be ported back in time 17 years.
To this day I still believe that Celebrity Skin is one of the finest records ever recorded. And I still don’t want to give Courtney Love any of my money. Some things just don’t change over time.
… oceans of angels/oceans of stars/ down by the sea/is where you drown your scars… “Malibu” by Hole