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Nirvana Unpugged

February 19, 2015 by Garren Christopher Stamp   

So this week my mom actually sent me a record. It was one I had been searching for for awhile, but had been unable to find anywhere. It is Nirvana’s last album, titled “Nirvana Unplugged in New York”. It is a live album from Nirvana’s acoustic MTV performance. What’s really unique about this album is that Nirvana performed acoustically, something they had never done before and they recruited members from other bands, such as the Meatpuppets, to perform on stage with them. Also, Nirvana performed only a few of their own songs, instead choosing to do covers of artists they liked. This made for a unique and amazing concert which trickles down into the album.


Nirvana was a three person band with singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl on Drums, and Krist Novoselic also on guitar. They are considered the pioneers of grunge music and the grunge scene. They started in Seattle in the punk/heavier metal scene. Their first album, “Bleach” really demonstrates this influence with many songs containing heavy screaming and a lot of heavy guitar riffs. This album was on locally successful and lacked mainstream appeal. Their next album, “Nevermind” is considered to be one of the greatest albums of all time. This album saw a significant reduction in screaming and more laid back guitar playing. This album gained them instant national recognition and people all over the world began to know and like Nirvana. Their popularity paved the way for other grunge bands such as Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots to make it as well. This started a grunge movement and started the mainstream increase in popularity of Seattle music. However, the members of Nirvana never wanted this success. They played music because they liked to play music. They released an album titled Incesticide, which was just meant to hold fans over until their next album was released. Incesticide saw a return to a more “Bleach” screamy sound. Their next album was In Eutero. This album saw a much more substantial return to their harder rock origins. Nirvana made the music they wanted to make and didn’t care if they lost fans because of it. In Eutero was still popular but received mixed reviews and wasn’t as successful as Nevermind. The success of Nirvana became hated by the band who never really wanted to be superstars, they just played music because they wanted to play music. This especially hit Kurt Cobain hard. Kurt had developed an expensive heroin habit (interesting fact Kurt used to shoot 800 dollars of heroin a day because that was the max amount his atm would let him withdrawal in one day) and suffered from depression most of his life. His depression worsened as his fame increased and that paired with issues with his wife Courtney Love made him suicidal. Nirvana played at MTV Unplugged in 1993. Kurt made the stage look like a funeral and you can hear the sadness in his voice throughout most of the songs. in 1994 Kurt Cobain committed suicide. He shot three times what is considered a lethal dose of heroin and then shot himself in the head with his double barrel shotgun. Nirvana died with Kurt.


Nirvana Unplugged in New York is an incredible record. A lot of the songs on it are incredible and reveal a lot about what Kurt Cobain was thinking and feeling during this time. My favorite song on the album is “Where Did You Sleep last Night” it is incredibly sad and sums up his distrust and problems with Courtney. The song is originally an old folk song and Nirvana’s rendition of it is incredible.

Another song on the album that I find to be exceptional is Pennyroyal Tea. This song shows Kurt’s sadness as well as the issues he had with his stomach. Kurt’s suffered from horrible stomach pains all his life. He tried all types of medicine and therapy to no avail. This stomach issue is the reason that he gives for why he started using heroin; it was the only thing that made him not feel the stomach pains anymore. This makes the song extremely meaningful.

Finally, i would recommend listening to dumb. Dumb is a song all about Kurt’s depression, and the acoustic version really highlights it. The lyrics are incredibly sad, so don’t listen to it if you want to feel happy.

I’m not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
The day is done
But I’m having fun
I think I’m dumb
Or maybe just happy

Think I’m just happy [x3]

My heart is broke
But I have some glue
Help me inhale
And mend it with you
We’ll float around
And hang out on clouds
Then we’ll come down
And have a hangover …
Have a hangover [x3]

Skin the sun
Fall asleep
Wish away
The soul is cheap
Lesson learned
Wish me luck
Soothe the burn
Wake me up

I’m not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
The day is done
But I’m having fun
I think I’m dumb

Think I’m just happy [x4]
I think I’m dumb [x12]


  1. Eric Hodge says:

    One of my local radio stations does a acoustic feature every week and occasionally play songs from this album. I like Nirvana but I honestly cant tell the difference between songs sometimes. I never knew Dave Grohl also played in Nirvana, I just knew him as the singer from the Foo Fighters.

  2. Yixuan Wang says:

    While I don’t really follow bands, I have heard of the band Nirvana. The brief history was very informative. Jus a quick question. Why is the song called Dumb? is there a hidden meaning when he says “Think I’m just happy, I think I’m dumb”? Is it because he is trying to pretend that he’s not depressed?

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