Courtney Love: Back in the Saddle Again

Courtney Love | Beverly Sills | Tommy Lee Jones

Courtney Love: The Comeback Begins

You may remember that when we last left Courtney Love, she was climbing over the audience at the Bowery Ballroom.

It was just a night or two after she’d hit an audience member with a microphone. Her downward spiral was nearly complete. Most people thought she wouldn’t live to see another day.

And yet, there she was last night and early this morning, playing new songs to around 700 fans on a makeshift stage in an underground Japanese restaurant in Chelsea.

The eatery is called Hiro, and it’s synonymous with the way Courtney Love is feeling these days. She didn’t die. She became a hero. She’s going to make it after all.

Readers of this column may recall that I saw Courtney about six months ago in Malibu. She played me new songs from her Linda Perry-produced album, now called “Nobody’s Daughter.” The songs were brilliant, and her performance was startlingly good.

Since then, Courtney has lost about 30 pounds. Last night she looked a little too thin, but she reassured me that her diet had been “smoothies and fish, lots of fish. Lots of salad.” She still smokes cigarettes. But drugs appear to be off the menu. Courtney Love is not going to be Janis Joplin or even Kurt Cobain.

This may be a disappointment to some. She would have been the perfect dead Hollywood icon. But Courtney still has a lot to say. She played the songs from “Nobody’s Daughter” with her band in a most sophisticated fashion. She still rocks, and can get off a raspy yelp when she needs it. But now she has talented musicians backing her up, and arrangements. The music is defined, hummable and well-constructed.

So are the lyrics. Whenever “Nobody’s Daughter” is released (this is still up in the air — hello labels looking for a hit) old fans and new fans should be impressed by Courtney’s ability to articulate her pain, anger and rebirth.

Last night, she had to tell the rowdy, packed-in audience to “shut up” many times so she could perform the new songs.

“They’re all love songs,” she told them, and much different from her hits “Celebrity Skin” and “Malibu,” which were treats for a crowd that wanted the old screwed up, directionless Courtney Love.

It’s not like she’s become Mary Poppins. Don’t worry. There’s no chance of that. In “PCH,” Courtney sings — maybe to her dead husband Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth —- “I’m up on Pacific Coast Highway/With your gun in my hand.”

Anyway, the good news is that Courtney Love is going to stick around a while. With rock in such miserable shape right now, that’s a good thing.

Beverly Sills: BFFs Fight Over Memorial

Should opera legend and ultimate New Yorker Beverly Sills’ memorial service be full of music or speeches? Should it be produced by the Metropolitan Opera, her manager or best friend Barbara Walters? And was Walters even her best friend?

These are the questions that threaten to turn themselves into an opera of their own. Maybe it will be called “La Travesti.”

Right now, all these parties, none of whom get along, are jockeying for power. Sills died on July 2 at age 78, but the memorial will probably not be held until the early fall.

Chances are it won’t happen until possibly right before the 2007 opera season premieres on Sept. 24 with “Lucia de Lammermoor.”

Chief among the agitators, I am told, is Walters. You’d think that "The View" anchor-producer-part owner would be more interested in finding replacements for Rosie O’Donnell and the by then very pregnant Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

But the word is that Walters wants to help organize the memorial and choose the speakers. She, of course, would be at the top of the list.

This is amusing to at least one Sills insider who told me, “Now Carol Burnett, that was her best friend. Barbara had Beverly on 'The View' as her best friend, but you know, that was her 'view.' It wasn’t so.”

Last week, all the components of Lincoln Center — the operas, the ballet and Philharmonic —took out a full page in the New York Times mourning the loss of Sills.

“Did you see the ad?” asked my source. “Don’t you think it’s those people who will decide about the memorial?”

Aside from Walters, another Sills friend who is said to be eager to get more involved is Shirley Lord Rosenthal, once hilariously dubbed “bosomy dirty book writer” by Spy magazine.

Rosenthal, say Lincoln Center insiders, has her own ideas about how Sills should be memorialized.

“And they don’t necessarily mesh with Barbara’s,” says a source.

No word yet on Burnett’s participation, or if she’ll even get to voice an opinion with everything going on. Ironically, Sills — a true New York institution — was all about peace and tranquility. But even she knew that nothing is ever over until the fat lady sings.

Records Redux; Tommy Lee Jones

In Wednesday’s column, I goofed and called the great single by The Records “Starry Nights.” Of course, it’s “Starry Eyes.” The Records play in Los Angeles this weekend at the Mods and Rockers Festival. Their other big hit was “Teenarama.” A great cult band, worth seeing. …

The publicist for “In the Valley of Elah” is upset with me about my comments yesterday. But really, Tommy Lee Jones is going to get a lot of awards attention, as is Charlize Theron. Movies don’t have to be perfect to contain great performances. “Elah” is not perfect, but it’s incredibly interesting. Original dramas are few and far between these days. The people behind “Elah” have done a darn good job. …

WCBS-FM is back on the air in New York City after two terrible years under the aegis of “Jack” radio. I was worried that the playlist wouldn’t be very good, but then late last night on came the late great Billy Stewart scatting to “Summertime.” I think everything’s going to be all right.

Of course, the station is touting hits from “the '60s, the '70s and '80s.” Let’s hope they don’t forget “Earth Angel” and “In the Still of the Night,” the two most popular tracks ever to be played on WCBS-FM.

When the station was shut down abruptly, a whole community was yanked off the air. Since then, Mark Simone has tried gallantly to fill that void with a weekly Saturday night show on WABC-AM. His show is a hit, and has lots of support. Hopefully, the fans will stick with Simone as a reward for all the good work he’s done. There’s room for lots of oldies on New York radio.