Nirvana is unarguably the most influential musical act that sprung up in the 90s to save the world from the shallow industrial “bubblegum pop” or the synth heavy “Britpop“. Nirvana wasn’t a group of highly talented and driven professionals that professed to constantly strive towards perfection. They were a bunch of junkies, who wanted to have some fun playing whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted; but as it so happens a lot of what they did play wasn’t originally theirs. They were excellent cover artists, lending a sense of melancholy, or anguish to many otherwise peppy numbers. Take for example their MTV Unplugged in New York set, in which half the songs were covers of songs by frontman Kurt Cobain‘s favorite artists. Thus, there are a lot of versatile covers recorded by Nirvana that even people who call themselves their biggest fans don’t know about.
So, today I am going to introduce you to the best 5 covers by Nirvana that didn’t make their way into the limelight.
5. The Man Who Sold The World
Original artist:- David Bowie
The song that Nirvana played at their 1993 MTV Unplugged session which became the most popular was “The Man Who Sold The World”; which was originally composed and sung by David Bowie. David Bowie was a great influence on Kurt Cobain’s music. Although I promised to bring to light Nirvana Covers that didn’t become popular, this entry is an acceptable exception because literally 99% of the people who have heard this song don’t know it’s a cover. This song has a very ambiguous theme, related to a man’s encounter with a doppelganger of sorts. Notable fact is that this is one of the most covered songs in international music industry.
4. Seasons in the Sun
Original artist: Terry Jacks
A rather touching and less ambiguous song about a boy’s consoling words to his family as he is dying, this retro number by Terry Jacks was remade in an experimental fashion. Sung by Kurt Cobain in half a key lower than the original, Nirvana experimented with a little role shuffling in this cover, with Kurt on the drums, Krist on the guitar and Dave on the bass. There are even a couple of lines added to each of the verses and the chorus, making this an unconventional Nirvana gem.
3. Immigrant Song
Original Artist: Led Zeppelin
This timeless classic with Jimmy Page‘s iconic guitar riff and Robert Plant‘s equally iconic long wail, was recreated in a rather jarring fashion at bassist Krist Novoselic’s mom’s basement during a regular jam session in the early days of Nirvana. Plant’s wail is replaced by Cobain’s monotonous anguish-filled scream with the typical trippy Nirvana feel. Fans of the original may want to avoid listening to this one.
2. And I Love Her
Original Artist: The Beatles
I honestly don’t know much about the original and after listening to this while watching “Kurt Cobain-Montage of Heck” (the first official documentary on Kurt Cobain’s life), I don’t really want to know much. There is no official video available for this cover as it has never been played anywhere but in the documentary. The cover is by Kurt Cobain solo on an acoustic guitar with a slightly altered opening riff and slower tempo. This song was understandably sung for the love of his life: Courtney Love. It is one of the rare instances where Kurt used cliched romantic gestures to express his love, but, well he really did love her a lot.
1. Bad Moon Rising
Original Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Recorded at Community World Theater, Tacoma on March 19, 1988; this punk rock style redo of the upbeat funky tune by one of the greatest classic rock bands ever can truly get you grooving. It is one of the most unsuspected covers that Nirvana has done, probably because it is from so long ago. Anyway, it is worth a hit.
So, that’s all for now. Keep checking in for some more regularly updated music trivia!