Introduction: The following comes from a Web UK interview, 6th June 1995, located for us by Simon Clarke.

Steve Hogarth: "But I think this song is mostly inspired by Kurt Cobain's suicide notes. I have never met him, but I felt very close to him in some ways. The last ever Nirvana gig was at Munich's Terminal 1. From there the band traveled to Rome and stayed at the Cavalieri Hilton, one of my favourite hotels. Cobain took an overdose in his hotel room and I could just about imagine him there, I could see the hotel room, the bathroom, the furniture... 

They then flew Cobain back to America, where as you all know he shot himself. Marillion was the first ever band to go on stage at Terminal 1 after Nirvana. I was the first to take centre stage and it was a very weird sensation. There I was, dressed as a bloody priest walking up to the centre of the stage and it was as if I was following a ghost...A most peculiar situation!"

To add further evidence to this, Kate Browne noticed subliminal pictures of Kurt on the back projections of the 14th March 2003 version of the song, during the Afraid of Sunlight set at the Marillion Convention. Frans Keylard sent us through the following screen grab from the Before First Light DVD of that event. He also notes, "There are other images [during that part of the song] of a graveyard."

Lennon quote in intro
John Lennon described mystical experiences as a young teenager: "...Because of what they saw, they were tortured by society for trying to express what they were. I saw loneliness. [snip]
"Only dead people in books. Lewis Carroll, certain paintings. Surrealism had a great effect on me, because then I realized that my imagery and my mind wasn't insanity; that if it was insane, I belong in an exclusive club that sees the world in those terms. Surrealism to me is reality. Psychic vision to me is reality. Even as a child. When I looked at myself in the mirror or when I was 12, 13, I used to literally trance out into alpha. I didn't know what it was called then. I found out years later there is a name for those conditions. I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete."

The experiences are understood to involve the suppression of the brain's beta waves, leaving only the alpha. This is know to cause hallucinations. From: The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Berkeley, 1982)

‘Sick to your Stomach’
Kurt Cobain (1967 - 1994). The guitarist and singer with influential Seattle-based Nirvana came to epitomise ‘grunge rock’ a new musical genre that combined elements of Punk, Heavy Metal and contemporary alternative music. The group’s groundbreaking 1991 album Nevermind had thrust the band into the spotlight and sold more than 10 million copies.

On April 8 1994, Cobain was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. A 20-guage shotgun and a note addressed to his wife, Hole’s Courtney Love and their 19-month old daughter, Frances Bean, was found near the body. The King County Medical Examiner’s office later reported that Cobain had died on April 5.

In an emotional taped message, Love read part of Cobain’s suicide note to the 5,000 fans who had gathered, April 10, outside the Seattle Center for a memorial service. Cobain had struggled with depression, narcolepsy and drug addiction for years and had made a failed suicide attempt in early March while in Rome for a performance.

Cobain used to suffer from agonising stomach cramps and indeed partly attributed his heroin addiction to them - as an attempt to nullify the pain.

‘But the fire in your belly... Feel like a fake’
In an interview with Britain’s New Musical Express before the Rome performance, Cobain told the reporter that he was refusing to play the group’s standard, Smells Like Teen Spirit as he felt he was faking it on stage, giving the audience what they wanted, not what he wanted to give and that he was going through the motions.

In a similar fashion to Hendrix’s last few months, Cobain was starting to talk of experimenting with orchestras and alternative methods of writing and arranging his music, as he was tired of having to play heavy guitar all the time. The experiments he had conducted with acoustic guitars and string arrangements on the group’s In Utero tour had not gone down well with the audience - ironic considering the accolades received by the group’s MTV Unplugged performance.

(That said, while Cobain IMO provided much of the impetus for the song, the Elvis and Lennon etc. at the start of the track definitely suggest that there was a wider agenda. H dedicated the song to the Spice Girls on This Strange Tour. Another dedicatee was Bill Clinton.)

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