The lyrics to Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” may be gospel to a generation, but Kurt Cobain tinkered with a lot of different lyrics before he came up with the era-defining hit. If you’ve ever wondered what those lyrics might’ve sounded like, well, Courtney Love is here to help.
The Hole frontwoman, and Cobain’s widow, guests on the newly released “Smells Like Teen Spirit” episode of the 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s podcast, in which host Rob Harvilla goes through the biggest songs of the 20th century’s final decade. For the conversation, Love brings in some of the early lyrics that Cobain had written for what became “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” given to her by author Charles Cross, who wrote the Kurt biography Heavier Than Heaven.
“Some of these were in [Cobain’s] Journals, some of them are unpublished,” Love explains.
Not content to just read the lyrics, Love sings them a cappella to the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” melody.
The cut lines include “Who will be the king and queen/ of all the outcasted teens?”, “We’re so lazy/ and so stupid/ Blame our parents/ and the cupids” and “Take off your clothes/ I’ll see you in court.” After singing the “court” line, Love quips, “He’s telling the future.”
Also during the conversation, Love shares that she feels “In Bloom” could’ve been the lead single off Nevermind instead of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and reveals Cobain didn’t want her listening to Pearl Jam‘s “Jeremy” while she was pregnant with their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.
“We had a ‘Jeremy’ ban,” Love laughs.
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