The Nirvana Covers

The potential that lived inside Kurt Cobain will always be a mystery, but watching Nirvana’s performance on MTV Unplugged from just months before his death, you get a real sense of where it could have gone. I don’t think I need to explain the brilliance or importance of this set - it’s now pretty much a cliché to call the performance a suicide note. But as a 17 year-old, living in an age where the lives of rock stars were whatever Spin or Rolling Stone painted them as, Cobain was always a drug addled belligerent and potential suicide waiting to happen. This performance changed that perception. Here he was interacting with his band with a smile, sitting in a knit sweater among candles and flowers, and playing calm versions of some of his most anguish ridden, personal songs. I thought, like many people probably did, that this performance marked a sea change in his life as an artist - I was very excited for whatever future direction the band took.

Of course, we never got to experience any of that, and MTV Unplugged in New York stands as Cobain’s final artistic gift to the world. The set Cobain decided to play that evening has always been at least as noteworthy, if not more, for his choice of covers than the reworked originals. And of the artists covered, the only one I think I’d even heard of at the time was Bowie, but had never heard “The Man Who Sold The World”. Fans were given the chance to explore all this diverse music, to see what music inspired the man that inspired so many. And I think that’s one of the things I’ve always respected most about Cobain - the way he always, whether in interviews or in performance, found a way to pass on the music that inspired him. And if the strained howl of Lead Belly‘s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” is the true end to the legacy, then I can think of no more powerful, primal way he could have concluded.

MP3 :: The Man Who Sold The World
(by David Bowie. from The Man Who Sold The World. Buy here)

MP3 :: Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
(by The Vaselines. From The Way Of The Vaselines - A Complete History. Buy here)

MP3 :: Lake of Fire
MP3 :: Plateau
MP3 :: Oh, Me
(by Meat Puppets. from Meat Puppets II. Buy here)

MP3 :: Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
(by Lead Belly. from Absolutely the Best. Buy here)

For the complete Nirvana covers, both from MTV Unplugged In New York and beyond, check out a fairly recent post over at Captain’s Dead.

And on a side note, have you seen the handsome new layout over at Coke Machine Glow?

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