Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Spooktober Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Polly By Nirvana, Album: Nevermind (1991)

“Polly” was inspired by the rape and torture of a 14-year-old girl in Tacoma, Washington. And that’s not the scary part. What makes “Polly” so profoundly unsettling is Kurt Cobain’s perspective, which occupies the mind of serial rapist and kidnapper Gerald Friend (yes, that is his real name). Against the skeletal strums of a $20 junk shop Stella, Cobain merges real-life details (rope, knife, blowtorch) with avian metaphors (“let me clip your dirty wings”) using the kind of sociopathic deadpan that’s light years more menacing than a shout, scream, or growl.

Moment the Spine Tingles: “Polly says her back hurts/ She’s just as bored as me.” *shudder*

The drummer on this song is not Dave Grohl, but Chad Channing, who was with the band from 1988-1990. When we spoke with Chad in 2013, he explained: “I never even realized that ‘Polly,’ that version, was from the Madison sessions that made it on Nevermind. I mean, it was, I don’t know, almost ten years down the road before someone mentioned that to me. I was like, ‘Really?’ And I listened to it, I said, ‘Okay, that makes sense.’

They put me in this smaller room that normally has guitars and stuff like that. I sat there with my ride cymbal, and there were these certain parts where I was just going to hit it. And I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just accent these things.’ Because they talked about having something really sparse in it. And I’m like, ‘Well, how sparse? I mean, are we just talking maybe a cymbal hit here or there?’ And the consensus was, ‘Yeah, something like that. Really mellow.’

I went in there and just rolled it. And they said, ‘Just put an accent here on this certain part each time it comes around.’ So I did. And it was like, ‘Okay, that totally works.’ So we left it that way.”

Nirvana had been playing this for a while before it was released on Nevermind. They recorded it in 1989 in sessions for an Extended Play album called Blew, and an early live performance appears on the album Muddy Banks. Bruce Pavitt, who co-owned Sub Pop Records (Nirvana’s label at the time), said of the band’s concert performances of this song: “It’s completely raging and hypnotic. You would go into a trance. It’s one of the things that made their live shows so incredible. But that took a while. That took about a year, from like early ’88 to early ’89, took about a year for them to really step into that. They were really stepping into their power at that time.”

After hearing this song Bob Dylan was prompted to remark of Cobain, “That kid has heart.”

There’s a point in the song where Cobain sings only “Polly says…” before pausing and starting over. This was a mistake in the studio that the band as well as the recording team liked, and left on the album. As evidenced in live performances, the mistake was “written in” to the song.

Today in Music History Remembering Kurt Cobain

26 years ago today the world lost grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain

Kurt Donald Cobain, born February 20, 1967, Aberdeen, Washington died April 5, 1994 in Seattle, Washington. Yet another tragic member of the 27 Club. He was an American singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the guitarist and frontman of the grunge rock band Nirvana. Regarded as a Generation X icon, he is considered to be one of the most iconic and influential rock musicians in the history of alternative music.

He died by suicide on April 5, 1994. His body was discovered inside his home in Seattle, Washington, three days later by Gary Smith, an electrician, who was installing a security system in the suburban house. Despite indications that Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, killed himself, several skeptics questioned the circumstances of his death and pinned responsibility on his wife, Courtney Love.

The Nirvana rocker was in a downward spiral that led to his death. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s close friend, Mark Lanegan, hadn’t heard from the rocker for about a week in April 1994 when he began to fear the worst. “Kurt hadn’t called me,” he told Rolling Stone later that year. “He hadn’t called some other people. He hadn’t called his family. He hadn’t called anybody… I had a feeling that something real bad had happened.”

Lanegan’s intuition proved to be correct. On the morning of April 8, an electrician found 27-year-old Cobain dead of an apparent suicide in a greenhouse above the garage of his Seattle home. According to Rolling Stone, a 20-gauge shotgun was lying across his chest, and, as a medical examiner’s report later revealed, Cobain, who had already been dead two and a half days at that point, had a high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium in his bloodstream. The magazine also reported that he was identifiable only by his fingerprints.

During his life, Kurt Cobain was a pioneer for grunge and rock music with his band Nirvana. To celebrate the life he lived, we picked out five Nirvana tracks.

5. ‘Drain You’

“Drain You” was famously written on the spot at Sound City Studios during the Nevermind recording sessions. Cobain never revealed who inspired the love song, but it was written just three months after he met Courtney Love.

4. ‘Come As You Are’

Thanks to radio play, this song as the second single from Nevermind helped launch Nirvana from a popular band into a massive global success.

3. ‘Heart-Shaped Box’

This song still sounds incredible and genre-defying to this day. In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, Courtney Love recalled hearing Kurt work on ‘Heart-Shaped Box.’ “We had this huge closet,” she said. “And I heard him in there working on ‘Heart-Shaped Box.’ He did that in five minutes. Knock, knock, knock. ‘What?’ ‘Do you need that riff?’ ‘Fuck you!’ Slam. [Laughs] He was trying to be so sneaky. I could hear that one from downstairs.”

2. ‘All Apologies’

These days it’s hard to hear this song as anything but a suicide note. “I wish I was like you,” he sings to his huge global audience. “Easily amused.” It ends with him repeating the line “all in all is all we are” 13 times.

1. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’

Look, you’re not cool for pretending to not like this song. Leaving it off this list would just be offensive. Despite its popularity, however, Kurt Cobain was not a fan. “I was trying to write the ultimate pop song,” Cobain told Rolling Stone in 1993. “I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies . . . It was such a clichéd riff.”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “The 27 Club Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

“The 27 Club” or “Club 27” is the colloquial name given to a group of influential rock musicians who died at the young age of 27. There are a few “members” who are always listed in “27 Club” groupings—such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. Of course, not every one in the 27 Club list were musicians, such as renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Though the official causes of death for these famous people vary between the different musicians—from suicide to overdoses on sleeping pills to, yes, choking to death on vomit—drug and alcohol abuse is often cited as a primary cause behind many of these deaths. Everyone on this list will never turn 28 – they will be forever 27.

Technically the music of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain are not of the psychedelic 60’s or 70’ era but for the sake of writing about the “27 Club” I feel his addition is rather pertinent.

Controversy still swirls around the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain who, on April 8, 1994, was found dead in his Lake Washington home by an electrician. The coroner’s report estimated Cobain’s time of death to be around April 5 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. However there are conspiracy theories telling a different tale such as his wife Courtney Love hired someone to murder Kurt, among other stories.

Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the guitarist and frontman of the rock band Nirvana. He is remembered as one of the most iconic and influential rock musicians in the history of alternative music.

Kurt Cobain had a rough upbringing, bouncing from one family member to the next. Struggling with his own identity, depression and against all odds became a legend rising to stardom in the midst of the grunge rock revolution in the early 90’s.

When news broke out about Kurt Cobain’s death legions of fans around the world grieved the loss of the guitarist and front man of Nirvana who’s lyrics both moved and resonated with the Gen X youth.

There have been a few films made about Kurt Cobain documenting the events that led up to his suicide with mixed versions and conspiracies. Needless to say his death still remains one of the great mysteries.

The music of Nirvana stills holds up today as timeless.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Nirvana: Nevemind

Let’s face it…this one started a revolution!

Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991) really put Grunge Nation on the map, and designated Kurt Cobain as the voice of his generation.

Nevermind came at just the right time in history, which just so happened to occur after the band chose Dave Grohl to be their new drummer.

Cobain wrote deceptively simple songs that stuck in your head for days and had really cryptic lyrics that either made no sense at all or hit the listener like revelations.

Whatever interpretation one had, the impact of Nevermind was undeniable.

For an album that initially wasn’t expected to sell many copies, it has racked up sales of over 10 million in the U.S. alone, and over 30 million worldwide.

From the opening guitar chords of Smells Like Teen Spirit, it became obvious that something both familiar and brand new was happening in Seattle.

Other future classics included In Bloom, Breed, Something In The Way, Come As You Are, Territorial Pissings, Lithium, and Lounge Act.

The entire album is brilliant, and sounds huge.

There is a reason that Nevermind is rated as highly as it is…it is simply an incredible creation.

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