The Cobain of His Existence

About a Son’s Director Portrays the Late Nirvana Front Man Through Other People’s Music

Once you had the songs in place, was it difficult to figure out what song went where and in what part of the movie?

Difficult's not really the right word. It was definitely a puzzle because there are several aspects to this. One is that I had a stack of CDs of Kurt's influences—which was really fun; you could hear all these different kinds of music. I would go through and say, "Okay, I wanted to make sure that each of these parts of his life are represented"—the arena-rock stuff he was listening to in Aberdeen, the new-wave stuff, I wanted to make sure the stuff in Olympia [was included], a lot of it was import and female-driven. And, of course, the early punk rock. You have ideas of certain ideas things you wanted to use, of certain bands you definitely wanted to get in there. Even if you wanted to use somebody's [song], it would have to fit emotionally with the moment. There are bands I love that I know were important to Kurt, that I couldn't find the right place for.

It's like you're making a mixtape for someone you have a crush on. It's like, "I need to put this one here; there's meaning to this."

You discover things, too. I don't know how many times I listened to [Queen's] News of the World and had never thought of "It's Late" as being one of the great songs on this record. When I listened to it in terms of trying to figure out what I wanted to put in the movie, and I came across "It's Late" for a moment when he's talking about his estrangement from his father. Even though that's a song about romantic love, it fit so well. And now that's so obvious to me that it's one of the greatest Queen songs ever. [laughs] You rediscover things that were right in front of your nose all along.

ABOUT A SON SCREENS AT LANDMARK'S NUART, 10850 W. PICO, LOS ANGELES, (310) 281-8233. OCT. 5, 7 P.M.

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