Twenty years after the release of Hole’s Live Through This, the level of critical praise and commercial success the album achieved is perhaps lost on those who didn’t witness it firsthand. Over two decades, Courtney Love has, unfairly, become one of rock’s biggest punchlines. A new generation that could really use Live Through This identifies Love with her public outbursts, her legal battles (with the surviving members of Nirvana, her daughter, and most recently, a Twitter defamation case from her ex-attorney), and worst of all, as just Kurt Cobain’s widow.
At the time of Live Through This, Love separated herself publicly from the riot grrrl movement, forging her own path with songs that are just as radical as anything by Bikini Kill or Bratmobile. Moreover, she had the balls to release these shockingly raw anthems into the world while all eyes were on her. The result is easily one of the best albums of the 1990s, not to mention one of the greatest works of feminist art ever created. Live Through This was an album that reached listeners who were new to this kind of worldview and could stand to experience that wrath and scorn that is a Courtney Love “FUCK! YOU!” And really, who couldn’t use a Courtney scream to awaken the senses every so often?
To celebrate Live Through This’ 20th anniversary (April 12, 2014), we tapped some of our favorite feminist-leaning musicians and music writers to dissect the album front to back. Each of these 12 contributors — Flavorwire editors included — took a different song and discussed it from critical, personal, and/or historical perspectives. Our contributors are as follows, in order of their appearances on the following pages: Daphne Carr, Lindsay Zoladz, Maura Johnston, Dan Weiss, Tyler Coates, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, White Lung’s Mish Way, The Coathangers’ Julia Kugel, Judy Berman, myself (Jillian Mapes), Tom Hawking, and Tacocat’s Bree McKenna.