On December 16th, 1993 Nirvana recorded an acoustic performance in New York City at the Sony Music Studios as part of the series MTV Unplugged. The band played their own songs, including lesser known ones, as well as covers by Meat Puppets and David Bowie. The show (and live album) became a classic. The album was released on Nov. 1, 1994 after Kurt Cobain´s death and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard.
All Apologies – Nirvana
The album went platinum five times and also won a Grammy for Beat Alternative Music Album. It was released on DVD in 2007.
When they were approached by MTV, they were not thrilled about the idea, they had not enjoyed the unplugged they had seen before, but they were inspired by the stripped down sound from Mark Lanegan´s album The Winding Sheet. They also did not do a “greatest hits” but included many covers as we mentioned before, their cover of David Bowie´s The Man Who Sold the World is arguably better than the original.
Pennyroyal Tea – Nirvana
The band rehearsed for two days for the show, and they were not happy with the sound of Dave Grohl´s drum and there were rumors he would not even play the show. They changed from sticks to wire brushes and sizzle sticks and that saved the day.
The lineup included the band as well as guitarist Pat Smear and Lori Goldston (cellist).
Come As You Are – Nirvana
The environment was tense and there are people who said there was no laughter, no joking and that Cobain seemed angry and cold…there is a moment when you can hear his say “My manager tells me I need to smile more.”
Despite that, the performance is incredible, it is regarded as one of the best live performances ever. Of course I have to admit here that I am not a rocker, and do not listen to Nirvana. I of course understand the reason they are famous and appreciate some of their lyrics and songs, but its not my cup of tea, however, the unplugged is one of my favorite albums.
Where did you sleep last night – Nirvana
This is the last song of the night and he ended things on a high. On a literal high octave note that goes straight to your bones. He is screaming, howling…such force! Neil Young said of that note “Unearthly, like a werewolf, unbelievable”.
Kurt Cobain shot himself four months after recording the unplugged. On his suicide not he quotes Young´s lyrics “Its better to burn out than to fade away”.
It is impossible to know where Cobain and Nirvana would be if he had lived. My guess is nowhere glamours, but listening to this album I understand why he achieved the title of legend, and will forever be considered the voice of a generation.
*Featured Image taken from: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7254/7679510730_a6a42ccf3c_b.jpg