Nirvana’s Legendary MTV Unplugged Performance

Just before the strumming out the opening riffs to Nirvana’s About a Girl, Kurt Cobain says, “This is off our first record. Most people don’t own it.” It’s almost a little bit crazy to think someone wouldn’t own a classic like “Bleach.” What’s crazier is “Bleach” was the opening song to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged special– which came out almost 24 years ago.

Hearing the stripped down acoustic versions of the band’s songs carried by Cobain’s raw voice is almost haunting, knowing that this would be one of the last times he would be preforming. The band played some of their more popular songs, but also threaded cover songs throughout the set. This added to the intimate feelings created by this once in a lifetime performance. The intimacy of this show would later be heightened by the loss of Cobain in the coming months. Nearly a year later, MTV released the Unplugged preformance almost as a second chance to appreciate the amazing, innovative artist Cobain was. Just hearing his voice ringing out lyrics such as, “think I’m just happy,” can make your heart heavy. He allowed his emotions to transcend through the music and truly effect the audience.

When asked about what lead up to the show, the band’s producer, Alex Coletti, said “The set was a conversation with Kurt. He asked for stargazer lilies and when I went up to see Kurt and showed him the drawings, he said, ‘I need more flowers and candles.’ I said, ‘Like a funeral?’ He said, ‘Exactly, like a funeral.’”  Cobain was not only nervous about the sound that day, he worried about the look– it was the full package for him. Knowing that he wanted the stage to have a funeral-esk feel only adds to the eerie feeling of it all– especially when watching the broadcast. Seeing Cobain preform with everything he had that day digs even deeper knowing that he joined the “27 Club.” He left us so soon, but gave it everything he had.

Here’s to Cobain.

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