29 Years Ago: Hole Establish Themselves as a Force on ‘Live Through This’

“Live Through This” is the second studio album by the American alternative rock band, Hole. With the release of this album  on April 12, 1994, fledgling rockers Hole started to shift people’s opinions about them.

Although the band’s album “Pretty on the Inside” received favorable reviews, singer Courtney Love’s marriage  to Kurt Cobain had made the group more well-known up to that time.

After the release of Live Through This, however, it was impossible to deny Hole’s talent.

Over time, there have been misunderstandings over the CD, with some believing Live Through This made allusion to Kurt Cobain, who passed away actually just a few days before the album’s release. The title actually came from a line in the movie Gone With the Wind and resonated with Love, who had been struggling with media scrutiny over her relationship with Cobain and her pregnancy thanks to an article in Vanity Fair.

The album features powerful and emotive lyrics by frontwoman Courtney Love, and showcases the band’s unique sound that blends elements of punk, grunge, and pop. The album has become a seminal work in the world of alternative music and is often cited as one of the most influential albums of the 1990s.

The making of “Live Through This” was a tumultuous and challenging experience for the band. It was recorded in Los Angeles during a period of great personal upheaval for Love. Despite the difficult circumstances, Love was determined to create a powerful and meaningful album that would speak to her experiences and emotions.

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1994, Love spoke about the personal nature of the album’s lyrics and the challenges she faced while writing them. She said, “I had to go through a lot of pain to write this record. It’s not fun being depressed, and it’s not fun having all this stuff happen to you. But that’s what makes the record so honest and real.”

The album’s title, Live Through This, also speaks to the theme of survival that runs throughout the album. In an interview with The New York Times in 1994, Love said, “The title came from a conversation I had with my therapist. He said, ‘If you can live through this, you can live through anything.’ And I thought, ‘That’s it. That’s the title of the album.'”

Despite the challenges the band faced during the making of the album, Live Through This was a critical and commercial success. The album debuted at number 52 on the Billboard 200 chart and went on to sell over 1.6 million copies in the United States alone. It received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 1995.

Love recently told Spin, “The title of the record was not a prediction of the future. It’s, like, f—ing live through what I already live through, you motherf—ers! It wasn’t meant to be about anybody dying. It was about going through f—ing media humiliations … You try it … it ain’t fun.

The other big misconception was that Kurt Cobain played a large role in the creation of the disc. While the rocker was around at times during the recording and even laid down some backing parts, most of which were scrapped, this was very much a Hole record with Love, guitarist Eric Erlandson, drummer Patty Schemel and bassist Kristen Pfaff serving as the primary forces on the disc.

Erlandson told Rolling Stone shortly after the release of the disc, “The most frustrating thing for me is that people view most female artists as this single person. The thing is, I know for a fact that we’re more of a band, and we’ve always been more of a band. I don’t want to be in a ‘backing band,’ and Courtney doesn’t want that, either. That’s not the way we work.”

Love stated, “I wanted to be better than Kurt [Cobain]. I was really competing with Kurt. And that’s why it always offends me when people would say, “Oh, he wrote Live Through This.” I’d be proud as hell to say that he wrote something on it, but I wouldn’t let him. It was too Yoko for me. It’s like, “No f—ing way, man! I’ve got a good band, I don’t f—ing need your help.”

The process began with Love, Erlandson and Schemel, with Pfaff being the last addition to the lineup. Erlandson states, “Even if it was just the three of us playing, you could tell something was happening that was bigger than all of us.” A&R man Mark Kates recalls “I remember sitting in that very small rehearsal room watching them and thinking, ‘No one knows how great this is. No one I work with has any idea how great an album this is going to be.’ That was really special. I knew it would blow people away.”

But publicly, Hole was still under a very big shadow. Schemel stated, “That was always the thing looming that her marriage and her life was bigger than our band. We always had that battle of having to prove ourselves at a legitimate band. All we had were those songs. That was it.”

But oh what songs they had. The first song to strike a chord with listeners was “Miss World,” a track dating back to 1992 after the departures of Jill Emery and Caroline Rue. It was raw, and Love struck a chord with her vulnerable vocals about dealing with self-image and abuse. MTV brought even more fans thanks to the Sophie Muller-directed video starring Love and using a beauty pageant backdrop. The track would break through at radio, becoming one of the band’s first true hits.


Doll Parts” came next, a song Love penned shortly after meeting and dating Cobain, sharing her own insecurities about the situation. The track came to the vocalist quickly as she recalled penning the song in the bathroom at former punk promoter Joyce Linehan’s home. “Doll Parts” skyrocketed into the Top 5 at modern rock radio back in 1994.

And the third major track from the album proved to be “Violet,” a song allegedly inspired by another one of Love’s well-known exes. She introduced the track on Later … With Jools Holland as stating the song was “about a jerk, I hexed him and now he’s losing his hair,” which led many to be believe she was speaking about Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan. Other songs like “Asking For It,” “Softer, Softest,” “She Walks on Me” and “Jennifer’s Body” have also remained among the favorites for fans of the album.

In Spin’s retrospective on the album, Love stated, “I think it’s pretty flawless for what it is, for the time. For going from Pretty on the Inside, which is atonal and has really brilliant lyrics, to f—ing songs you can sing along to? I just gave it my best. I gave it 100 percent.”

Today, Live Through This remains a landmark album in the world of alternative music and is widely regarded as one of the most important albums of the 1990s. In a retrospective article for Pitchfork in 2014, writer Jenn Pelly wrote, “Live Through This is a classic because it endures. It’s a record that people continue to discover and relate to because it captures emotions that are timeless.”

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