Listful Thinking: Top 5 Nirvana Songs

Grunge Week at Blinded By Sound, Vol 3: Nirvana
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Grunge Week continues with the torchbearers of the movement, the mighty Nirvana. I don't have to spend much time explaining the impact this band had on the world or their legacy; it's unassailable. I am consistently reminded they are even better than we think they are when I return to the records. There was so much hype and noise surrounding Kurt Cobain and the casualty too often was the art. The only thing sadder than the loss of so many great songs still to be written is the tragic loss of the life of Kurt Cobain itself.

There weren't as many songs as there should have been and even with the comparatively small sample size narrowing it to five was difficult, but this is my list.

  • Heart Shaped Box: This is Kurt Cobain's magnum opus. Cobain's vocal and riff are filled with rage and anguish and he plays one of his more interesting guitar solos, something Nirvana rarely flashed on their songs and Dave Grohl pounds the drums with apoplectic force. "Heart Shaped Box" has lost none of its power in the decades since.
  • About A Girl: Kurt was right, most of us didn't own this record when they recorded Unplugged in New York and most of us prefer that version to the original on Bleach but it's Nirvana at their pop best.
  • Come As You Are: "Teen Spirit" broke them nationwide but "Come As You Are" is the single I liked best. Cobain was more a fan of "Drain You." That one is good, too. It followed the soft-loud dynamic so familiar to Nirvana fans but there is an eeriness accompanying the rage and alienation not often heard on Nirvana tunes.
  • Aneurysm: There are multiple versions of this b-side and they're all fantastic, my favorite being the live versions on Muddy, Reading, and Paramount.
  • All Apologies: Most people like this one more than I do but I love the brilliant sadness it possesses. There are those who would call this Cobain's masterwork; it's brilliant but I respectfully disagree.