Feminists, mosh pits, and smudged makeup were the essentials of the women’s grunge and punk scenes of the 1990s. Seeing photos of women in dainty dresses screaming into microphones amongst these male-dominated music scenes blew my 17-year-old mind.
With lead vocalist and guitarist Courtney Love (ex-wife of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain), Hole was involved with both the male dominated Seattle-based grunge scene, and Olympia’s feminist punk scene that gave birth to Riot Grrrl.
I still remember the day I inserted Hole’s debut album “Live Through This” for the first time into my 2001 Honda Civic CD player during my junior year of high school.
When I first heard Love’s raspy vocals in the opening track’s chorus Violet: “Go on take everything, take everything I want you to, go on take everything, take everything I dare you to,” a few tears had rolled down my cheeks as she belted lyrics that tugged at my heart.
I was also experiencing rough patches in my first ever relationship at the time. This album helped me escape a reality that was hard to face on my own. It served as my musical diary that wrote itself out for me.
Hearing Love screaming menacing lyrics of heartache and oppression at crowds of punks, most of whom were men, gave me a sense of empowerment that I needed during that fragile point of my life.
Hole encouraged the presence of women in the grunge/punk scene, and knew how well the scene served women not only in the industry, but more importantly, their listeners. Women were beginning to freely express their anguish after years of suppression and gender conformity in music.
The band’s sound is rough around the edges, but the way Love’s voice overpowers the guitar riffs provided a new sound that I had never heard before.
The album played on my noise canceling headphones at least twice a day, and I was emotionally intertwined with its hard-hitting lyrics. As I’d take long drives at night, I would blast this album on my cheap blown out speakers of my Civic over the sound of my crying and screaming alongside Love.
In the track Doll Parts, Love sings: “I love him so much it just turns to hate. I fake it so real I am beyond fake. Someday you will ache like I ache,” which perfectly articulated how I felt throughout my relationship.
I knew the relationship was over when I realized that I was trying to convince myself that I was content with how we were, so I ended it.
This album had allowed me to release all the pain and rage I felt during the three years of the relationship. The tracks Gutless, Asking For It, and Plump, put my conflicted mind at ease for just a few savory minutes. Hole’s lyrics empowered my self-esteem during moments of vulnerability.
Now almost 21-years-old and still listening to this album after having healed from the breakup, I reflect on the amount of emotional and self-growth I’ve had since first inserting that CD in my Civic.
The “Live Through This” album was my emotional support that I needed most during one of the toughest learning experiences I’ve had. It was a huge part of my own self-discovery as a young woman, and I’ll always be grateful to this album for that reason.