“The name of the early 1980s Minimal Electronic band Nine Circles originates from Dante’s ‘Nine Circles of Hell’.” —Wikipedia
“Nineties grunge-rock band Nirvana, already embroiled in a long-running legal battle against fashion company Marc Jacobs over its ‘happy face’ t-shirt designs, now finds itself on the less happy end of a new copyright infringement lawsuit worthy of Dante’s trip through the underworld.
“The complaint, filed in federal court in Los Angeles [in April 2021], claims that Nirvana infringed an illustration first published in a 1949 English language translation of Dante’s Inferno. The drawing depicts Dante’s circles of Upper Hell and, like Nirvana’s smiley face logo, has been featured on the band’s merchandise for decades. [. . .]” –Aaron Moss, “Foreign Works, US Rights: The 7th Circle of Copyright Hell?” on Copyright Lately (April 30, 2021)
The disputed image was featured on the B-side of Nirvana’s debut album Bleach (Sub Pop Records, 1989).
Contributed by Jared Brust (Florida State University ’21)
“Jazz critic Gary Giddins chortles as he recounts the tale, pointing out that if these American Brahmins had simply deigned to take a train south from Boston to New York City, and stepped into the Roseland Ballroom on a Thursday night, they would have experienced the American Bach, Dante, and Shakespeare all rolled into one: Louis Armstrong.
“Born to a 15-year-old who sometimes worked as a prostitute, raised in a New Orleans neighborhood so violent it was known as ‘the Battlefield,’ sent to a juvenile detention facility at 11 for firing a gun into the street—his early years would surely put him on the pipeline to prison today.
“Had that occurred, the distinctly American music that Louis Armstrong created might never have happened. The American songbook, as we know it today, simply would not exist.” [. . .] –Eboo Patel, SOJOURNERS, July, 2016.
The music video for Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” has drawn many comparisons to Dante’s Inferno for its depiction of the singer’s descent to hell (and eventual lap dance of Satan). Here are a few quotes from media outlets:
“2021 is here, purgatory is (almost) over, and Lil Nas X is our Dante.” –Halle Keifer for Vulture
“Artists have been imagining trips to hell for hundreds of years without anyone raising too much fuss, but then Dante wasn’t a gay black pop star. Also, as far as anyone knows, Dante didn’t promote the Divine Comedy by selling a limited-edition sneaker made with human blood, which is the approach Lil Nas X has been taking with ‘Montero.’ On Friday, news broke that Lil Nas X and MSCHF had collaborated on ‘Satan Shoes,’ a limited release of modified Nike Air Maxes decorated with pentagrams and a reference to Luke 10:18 (‘And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’) They’re only making 666 individually numbered pairs of shoes, and each one is made with a drop of real human blood. Not surprisingly, Nike wants everyone to know they had nothing to do with any of this.” –Matthew Dessem in Slate
“In the ‘Montero’ video, Lil Nas X journeys from Garden of Eden to Dante’s inferno by sliding down a stripper pole (truly, twigs is correct in calling it iconic) [. . .].” –Meagan Fredette for W Magazine
Watch the video on YouTube (accessed April 14, 2021)
“A monumental mix of dark and epic classical music based on Dante’s Inferno from The Divine Comedy to accompany you in your journey through the circles of hell, including Ludwig Van Beethoven, Stravinsky and Penderecki.” — Moontopmountain, 8tracks, 2013.