By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
On Tuesday, Interscope Records at long last released Nirvana, a 14-song best-of that features not only tracks from Bleach, Nevermind, In Utero and Unplugged, but the long-lost "You Know You're Right." The song, recorded almost a decade ago by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, had been tied up in litigation that pitted the surviving members of Nirvana against the Widow Cobain, Courtney Love, who has long diminished the roles of the bassist and drummer in order to further line her own pockets with her late husband's posthumous scratch. "Grohl? Novoselic? Never heard of 'em," Love said during her appearance last March at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, where she delivered a rambling six-hour treatise on the state of the music industry while chain-smoking Pall Malls and drinking from a flask of kerosene and lemonade. "Kurt was Nirvana, period. Anyone else who says they were in the band is lying," she insisted, as Los Angeles Timesreporter Chuck Phillips cradled Love in his arms on the Austin Convention Center stage.
A few weeks ago, Love, Grohl and Novoselic settled their lawsuit, which paved the way for the release of "You Know You're Right," which made its way to the Internet and rock radio well before its intended release date. The song, which sounds like trademark Nirvana--or, as Grohl said in Spinrecently, "like everything else we ever did, like, ever"--has also spawned a much-requested MTV video, culled from previously unseen concert and backstage footage, much surreptitiously filmed by Love, who secreted a tiny video camera in her then-ever-present "medicine kit."
But "You Know You're Right" remains but a single song amid hundreds of Nirvana recordings still kept in the Geffen Records vault and Love's garage apartment. Collectors have long horded the five-disc Outcesticideseries, which contain studio sessions and live covers, as well as the six-disc Into the Blackboxed set, which comes with a dazzling 24-page booklet. But there are recordings so rare they don't appear on any illicit compilation, and they likely will remain forever locked away in Courtney's heart-shaped box. Here are the rarest of the rare, along with whatever limited session information we could find using ultra-secret members-only Nirvana fan club discography site theneedleandthedamagedone.co.uk/boots/rare/whatever/ nevermind.html.
"Narcoleptic, Neurotic" (alt. title: "Little Pissant")and "Jesus Hello":These In Uterodiscards sound like so many other Nirvana songs: soft, loud, soft, loud, etc. They're most notable, however, for Cobain's use of chain saw and harmonium, the latter at the suggestion of producer Steve Albini, who once told Guitar Playermagazine, "I was doing everything I could to make Nirvana as uncommercial as every other band I've worked with, except the Breeders, because I wanted to fuck Kim Deal."
"Squeezin Teezin":Nirvana was fond of whipping out the oddball cover song on occasion, but this one proved most disquieting. The story apparently goes as follows: Some time in 1991, influential BBC disc jockey John Peel asked the band to appear on his radio show. Nirvana agreed, but asked if it could perform a set of covers, which Peel agreed to. The set list featured several Nirvana standard favorites--including The Who's "Baba O'Riley," The Doors' "The End" and Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun"--but also some bizarre choices, among them Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" and this little-known 1989 bit of hair metal written by Harry Cody--otherwise known as the guitarist for the band Shotgun Messiah.
"Jeremy":A cover of the Pearl Jam hit, which was crawling up the charts when Nirvana recorded this in Belgium in November 1991, but complete only until the final chorus, when Cobain can be heard, off-microphone, complaining to Novoselic that he "won't sing this stupid fucking song, 'cuz it's making my stomach hurt." Novoselic can be heard, faintly in the distance, telling Cobain to stop, because "Eddie Vedder's a fag."
"Violet"/"Miss World"/"Plump"/"Asking for It"/"Jennifer's Body"/"Doll Parts"/"Credit in the Straight World"/"Softer, Softest"/"She Walks on Me"/"I Think That I Would Die"/"Gutless"/"Rock Star":Otherwise known as the songs that would make up Hole's second album, and first on a major label, Live Through This, released in April 1994. According to Internet gossip, this very tape is the reason Courtney Love settled her suit with Grohl and Novoselic: The Foo Fighters front man actually owns it in its entirety--it was scheduled to be Nirvana's fourth studio album, after In Utero, and both he and Novoselic play on all the sessions--and threatened to release it if Love didn't settle the suit. In fact, test pressings of the Foos' new One by Onecontained a "hidden track" that appears to be a 1:32-long montage of the Nirvana "Won't Live Through This" sessions, as they've come to be known. Rumor has it Grohl gave Love the master tapes, so they do not appear on next year's Nirvana boxed set, tentatively titled The Hole Story.
"I Don't Wanna Be Your Yoko, Oh No": Taken from the band's soundcheck before its last American performance on January 8, 1994, at the Seattle Center Coliseum, this song was given to Cobain as a birthday present from Love. That would explain why it's so awful--although it would later appear on Hole's third album as "Malibu," with slightly altered lyrics. Grohl and Novoselic refused to perform it in front of an audience, record it or even say its title out loud. (In the legal papers, it is referred to only as "I.D.W.B.Y.Y.O.N. (Human Nature).")