Everett True

Spot the difference – Nirvana and PJ Harvey

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My wife pointed this one out, inadvertently.

The opening bars of ‘About A Girl’ sounded out.

From the bathroom, Charlotte called out, “Is this Polly Harvey? It’s the only song of hers I know.”

I started laughing.

“That’s great!” I remarked. “Very funny.”

She second-guessed.

“Is this Nirvana?”

She further explained, “When I used to go out dancing at indie discos, I got to recognise the opening bars of all the DJ’s songs.”

She’s quite correct. I’d forgotten. Remarkably similar guitar.


P.S. While we’re here.

Hole – ‘Teenage Whore’

The Fall – ‘God-Box’

2 Responses to Spot the difference – Nirvana and PJ Harvey

  1. Jack June 16, 2011 at 4:51 am


  2. Tom Randall June 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve often thought the same, Everett, at least when listening to Polly’s first couple of records.

    I think a common element is the presence of a guitar melody (i.e. a riff) against which a separate vocal melody swims around and away from. Like the hookier of the hardcore bands; I once played “Attitude” by the Bad Brains for a friend (who, admittedly, doesn’t listen often to American music) and it reminded her of Nirvana. I asked why and she said (in my own language) that it wasn’t just one or two chords per bar, strummed in a generic fashion, but a definite musical statement; and it was melodic.

    It’s trite to say that Polly played up the blues more and had a feel for odd time signatures, wheareas Kurt reflected a Beatles thing, but there have been a number of times where I’ve listened to a PJ Harvey riff and thought, “God, Nirvana could have played something like this.” Like they got to places within sight of one another but by different routes.

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