Who would have thought that I would have anything in common with Courtney Love? On a style continuum I would place myself at the opposite end to her so why, when browsing in my favourite CD and book store, did my hand move towards her diaries, entitled “Dirty Blonde”? For a few moments I stood there moving the book on and off the shelf, confused by the signals the book was sending. First of all it was vibrating at me in that time honoured way and secondly I was repulsed by the messiness of the format and indeed the messiness of Ms Love herself. What was all that ambivalence about? There was only one way to find out. I bought the book and headed for home.
An intense but rapid flick through the pages and I had my answer. She fascinates me. By doing and being all the things that were not allowed in my youth (according to my mother’s creed anyway) because they are ‘dirty’. I can see that Courtney has lived the life of a wild pirate, while I have only dreamed it. Her diaries reveal her to be untramelled, ridiculous, shameless, shocking, messy and sometimes ugly; while at the same time being honest, loving, intelligent, and very beautiful. She is in fact the living example of the dicotomy that I as a woman have lived all my life. Larger than life and twice as raucous, she is everything that I might have been , if only I’d done what so many men advised me to do-ease up and let go.
But no that is not something that I could do. In the words of Bernard Shaw,”whilst we…. the conventional… were wasting our time on education, agitation and organisation, some independent genius has taken the matter in hand.” Although I would never describe myself as conventional, the truth is that the parade marched on leaving me behind and at the front, looking like a child dressing up in her mother’s glamour clothes was brave kamikaze Courtney, a finger up to the world.
Sometimes I think I haven’t loved enough, that even my madness, for there has been plenty of that, has been too measured. Was this what was going on as my hand hestitated over that copy of “Dirty Blonde”. Was it a fear of regret and the sadness of chances missed that kept me wondering? Was it the sure realisation that I was going to have to face up to the fact that although I have the biker jacket and can still fit my slender bum into a pair of jeans over the thigh high boots that sit waiting in the back of my wardrobe, I never was nor I will ever be rock and roll. I do not and never did speak the language, though I moved deep inside to the rhythm.
In my attempt to avoid the dirty old men my mother warned me might be hidden in the bushes, I avoided the bushes themselves. I was neither loud enough nor fucked up enough to be Courtney’s friend, even if I was her generation which I suspect I am not. The only things I share with her is a love of teapots and WB Yeats. But no, there is more.
I’m glad I bought the book. Glad I read it in spite of the discomfort caused by the tea stains, scruffy masking- taped pictures and the myriad smudgy pens (and different handwriting styles) used throughout. I’m glad to see that there is a maturing as her story progresses and a redemption of sorts within the pages. By the end I liked her, respected the blistering honesty and finally saw that the the main difference between us is that she was not afraid. Both of us have spent our lives searching for cool ways to make ourselves better people. I identify with her desire to be faithful to the mystery, to want to offer one’s creativity to both the Beach Boys and quantum physics. Also I understand why she includes the words of Nietzsche, “Is it better to out monster the monster or be quietly devoured?” Neither of us did the latter but she did it more noisily than me and with redder lipstick.
Most of all, getting to know Courtney has helped me to face up to those free floating cultural anxieties attached to my internal dialogue about what it is to be a woman. In our never ending search for love and our deeply creative approaches to life, I guess we’re not at the opposite ends of the continuum after all. In fact I’d go so far as to say Courtney and I are sisters under the skin. Which is both unexpected and in the words of the star herself, “fucking hot baby”.