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In Utero, Nirvana

DGC Records, September 21, 1993

Track Listing: 1. Serve the Servants, 2. Scentless Apprentice, 3. Heart-Shaped Box, 4. Rape Me, 5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle, 6. Dumb, 7. Very Ape, 8. Milk It, 9. Pennyroyal Tea, 10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, 11. Tourette’s, 12. All Apologies

“In the sun
In the sun I feel as one
In the sun
In the sun”

-fromAll Apologies

It’s hard to explain. How it felt back then. How it still feels now. It was like grabbing onto some hot and shrieking wire. Like freeze-fusing against some live and bestial electrical line. Tapping into the boiling juice at the center of the universe. I still feel it sometimes. Alone in the car driving somewhere when, suddenly, I purposely play a song, something so odd and shocking and menacing and fucking loud that it allows me to scream unnoticed. Permits me to howl all alone on the highway until the hot tears begin to run slowly down my cheek. It’s like pulling the guts out of the galaxy. Ripping the tender roots out of god-teeth. Plugging in. Clicking on. You’re either on or off. When you’re on it’s like spitting and molten fire. Like a sun that sucks your core out. Burns you. Blows your speakers and blasts your mind. When you’re off, well, it’s dull. Gray. Dead. Nobody would ever understand if they saw you there alone pounding your hand against the dashboard. No one understands. Not even you.

“My favorite inside source
I’ll kiss your open sores
Appreciate your concern
You’ll always stink and burn”

-fromRape Me

Perhaps it was because you were there when it happened. Almost. Saw it live on TV. It wasn’t what you expected. It wasn’t slick or radio-ready or overly produced. Not like the stinky spirit of yesteryear. This was real and raw. Uncomfortable and strange. Winding and strangling like a thick umbilical cord around your neck. You remember seeing the torn wings of an angel onstage. The artificial wind blowing back shirts and hair. The flap of flannel. The utter seriousness and painfulness of a young man singing. Above all it was distortion. The mad squealing and shrieking that sonically moved itself like a fierce abortion through the speakers and up through the audience and TV and out past the set and into your body and soul. Suddenly it all become, well, inevitable. Urgent. The hook was there. Like seeing a strange black kid setting his guitar on fire. Or a young Irish punk spitting gob at the Queen. Something was different. Something was happening. Your eyes couldn’t move away. You were stunned. Shocked. Nailed to the cross. You ran out immediately the next day and bought every single record they had ever made (which wasn’t much). You bought the book, read up on them in magazines. The vibe had changed. Music had died. The world was different now.

“I’m not like them
But I can pretend
The Sun is gone
But I have a light
The Day is done”


Then as suddenly as it all began it ended. Horribly and sad. You were devastated. Jesus, you weren’t even a teenager then! Just loved the music. It was tragic. Was always tragic. The power lines blown down by a black and vicious hurricane. They whipped and bounced and slashed across suburban neighborhoods. Sparks flying like hot lead through the black of night. They lashed across the mid-sized cars and pickup trucks. Snapped at duplexes and bicycles. Their electrical fangs struck out like vipers at all the lost children in the night. All the double-parked mothers, the fat sweating fathers all rushing frantically to get home. The gods of Olympia were angry. All the sad teenagers dead. Their flaming chariots crashed back to earth like mosh-pit divers electrocuted by the sun. It was all like some massive bass guitar thrown up to the air only to fall back down upon on your head again. Gash your face. Leave you hung over and dead for the rest of the decade. Trembling and alone and naked at the dawn of a dull new century.

“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’’


Maybe it was because of Steve Albini who recorded the album. Maybe it was just a bunch of sad kids who made some early mistakes and got famous too quick. Maybe it was just another moment in time where everything clicked. One broken poet leaving a tremendous and aching trail of light in the sky. It was rough and raw and sad and beautiful. It changed the world. And it left a hole as big as space.

I like to write poetry … I like nature and animals. I like to swim. I like to be with my friends. I like to be by myself. I like to feel guilty for being a white, American male. I love to sleep. I like to fill my mouth with seeds and spit them out at random as I walk. I like to make people feel happy and superior in their reaction towards my appearance. I like to feel prejudice towards people who are prejudice. . . . I like to dream that someday we will have a sense of Generational Solidarity amongst the youth of the world. . . . These are not opinions. These are not words of wisdom. This is a disclaimer, a disclaimer for my lack of education, for my loss of inspiration, for my unnerving quest for affection and my perfunctory shamefulness towards many who are of my relative age. It’s not even a poem. It’s just a big pile of shit like me.

-Kurt Cobain (Journals)