The 10 Myths about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana they didn’t want you to read
6. THE LYRICS OF ‘COME AS YOU ARE’ WERE PLAGARISED
The lyrical hook that forms the title of the well-known popular classic ‘Come As You Are’ was first used in 1977 by Det Insikt, an early underground punk band from Stockholm, Sweden. A follower of the band said, “ I couldn’t believe it when I heard the song on the radio. And it wasn’t just the lyric, they’d even used quite a few of the same notes and instruments.” A Nirvana insider remarked, “That Kurt heard the song when he was 10 and was able to reproduce some of it a decade later is yet another testament to his genius”. Little is known about Det Insikt and they have long since disbanded, but singer Nick Rubato, who also suffered long term addiction, reputedly stubbed his toe when told. Unfortunately, because no recordings exist of the original, Det Insikt were unable to bring legal actions against Nirvana, though they have since become “different kinds of people” anyway.
Bonus trivia: Krist Novoselic is the honorary mayor of Zadar and regularly receives Dalmatians in recognition of his office.
7. THE TERM GRUNGE DATES BACK TO THE 16TH CENTURY
It is an uncommonly held fallacy that the term GRUNGE emerged somewhere around the 50s. The word actually comes to us from the fledgling coal mining industries of 16th Century Britain, where various forms of coal dust and dirt would mingle around the feet of workers creating a sticky ‘grunge’. By the following century it had entered general use to refer to any ‘slag’ like substance formed through mixing. Around the same time, it was used as a performance direction on John Dowland composition ‘Flow My Tears’ and an untitled madrigal by Francis Pilkington, and meant simply ‘with noise’. In the intervening years the term lost favour and it wasn’t until the late 80s that it underwent something of a revival and inverted to its current meaning of ‘shiny’ or by extension ‘marketable’.
8. COBAIN WROTE NEVERMIND ABOUT FARMING
Farming references do spring up in several songs on Nevermind, but Kurt’s muse was complicated, and his full-scale farming addiction didn’t start until after the album was recorded. Before Nevermind, he had experimented with animal husbandry, but he wasn’t a full-blown addict. Most of the record, however, was written about his land, animals, or his favourite pastimes. His initial plan was to break the album up into an ‘animal’ side and a ‘vegetable’ side. The ‘animal’ side would consist of songs like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Breed’, and ‘Polly’, most inspired by Cobain’s love of fish. The ‘vegetable’ side would contain a variety of songs, including ‘On A Plain’, and ‘In Bloom’, which was inspired by his favourite flowers ‘Stargazer Lilies’.
9. THE COVER OF NEVERMIND WASN’T COBAIN’S IDEA
Kurt didn’t come up with the cover idea for Nevermind. His idea had little in common with the final image of a floating naked baby chasing a bank note. He had seen late night television shows on banking and soldiers of fortune, and wanted a photograph of Dirk Benedict’s head smashing a local branch of the Bank of America – he went as far as to sketch out the image in his journal. Yet when Kurt tried to approach Dirk to set up the gory and bloody photograph, he refused on account of ill health. The naked baby photo was the back-up plan. Charles Bukowski said, “Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink”.
10. COBAIN DIDN’T WANT A DRUMMER
It could be argued that the drum sound on any given record is an important ingredient in defining its overall sound, and nowhere is this more truer than on the glitzy-classic-rock-hit-recording-opus that is Nevermind. So it may be a surprise to learn that Monsieur Cobain didn’t even want a conventional drummer for Nirvana. Drawing further inspiration from the East, he first hoped to use classical Indian tabla genius Pandit Taranath Ram Rao Hattiangadi, and run the instrument through the carburettor of a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air and into an old sock to get that “authentic ‘grunge’ sound”. Cobain said, “I was looking for something a lot heavier, yet melodic at the same time. Something different from heavy metal, a different attitude.” However, Kurt’s dream quickly faded when Chad Channing told him that he was sorry but Pandit Taranath Ram Rao Hattiangadi just didn’t like him. Chad was subsequently hired to fill the part but couldn’t play tablas and so reverted to bashing plastic covered wooden tubs instead.
Bonus trivia: A.G.H.O.S.T., the most advanced technical paranormal research group in the Pacific Northwest, are based in Seattle.
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