Behind The Songs by Glenn Fisher

Thanks for joining me! This blog is intended to be of interest to music fans who want a deeper understanding of the stories that inspired their favourite songs and some of the classic songs of the rock/pop genre.

The first song I want to discuss is the intriguing song by Nirvana named ‘Frances Farmer will have her revenge on Seattle” off the “In Utero” album released in 1993 and what was to be Nirvana’s last studio album. Even though I am a massive movie fan (particularly the so-called “Hollywood Golden Era”) I must admit I hadn’t heard of Frances Farmer until her named popped up on Kurt Cobain’s song. Naturally I was curious so I did a bit of research on her. Frances Farmer was born in Seattle (Cobain’s home town) in 1919 and at the age of 22 headed off to New York having decided to make a living acting. Possessing great beauty and talent she was ‘discovered’ in New York by a Paramount Films executive and sent to Los Angeles to start a film career. From 1936 to 1958 she made 15 films for Paramount co-starring with such prominent leading men including Bing Crosby and Cary Grant. However, her personal life was a mess. Farmer could not handle the life of a Hollywood star and eventually became an alcoholic and was known for turning violent on set. She was committed to a psychiatric facility in Seattle by her mother where she was repeatedly raped by the male doctors and orderlies. The doctor’s advised her mother that Farmer would benefit from a new procedure called a partial lobotomy. However her father got wind of it and turned up to the hospital and threaten to sue if they went through with. Despite many rumours to the contrary Frances Farmer was never lobotomized. According to Cobain he felt a kinship with Farmer when he read a book about her life. The injustices he felt she suffered , particularly by her mother, inspired him to write the “Frances Farmer” song.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


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