Nirvana lyrics reflect the band’s innovation and heralded in the creation of grunge music as a subgenre of alternative rock. The first of the “Seattle bands”, Nirvana has gone on to sell over 60 million records and at one time was considered the voice for Generation X.
Even though lead singer and songwriter, Kurt Cobain died in 1994 after escaping from drug rehab, effectively dismembering the band, other members such as Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl have gone on to perform with other bands and revive some Nirvana songs for compilation albums.
The megahit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from the grunge-defining Nevermind album, came about in an odd way. Apparently, in the pre-Courtney Love days, Cobain was dating the Bikini Kill’s lead singer Kathleen Hanna. During a night of drinking, she spray-painted a “Teen Spirit” phrase all over Cobain’s bedroom walls. Cobain used this in the title and Nirvana lyrics for the song.
From the same album, the Nirvana lyrics to “Come As You Are” have come under much speculation. For instance, so think the lyrics are about using heroin and others about tolerating black and white race relations. For instance the line, “Come dowsed in mud, soaked in bleach” may be interpreted both ways. The lyrics of this song also mention guns and foreshadow Cobain killing himself with a gun three years later.
The song “Lithium” has also come under a great deal of speculation as well. What is known is that lithium is a prescription medication used to treat bipolar disorder. Without treatment, a person may spend time in either a manic phase or depressive phase. What is lost by many who evaluate the song is that it is actually a love song or love gone wrong song and the protagonist is expressing some crazy emotions wrapped up in grieving the loss of this relationship.
On the album Bleach is a song called “Floyd the Barber”, which is in reference to a character by this name on The Andy Griffith Show. The lyrics to this song are a darkly humorous look television and small town life. According to Cobain the lyrics were about, “A small town gone bad. Everyone turns into a mass murderer.”
Nirvana lyrics may be seen as angst-ridden typical of the alternative rock genre or dark and humorous as can be seen in “Floyd the Barber”. But, no matter what, the Nirvana lyrics that Kurt Cobain wrote spoke to a generation that still refuses to let them go and let him go, keeping his memory alive and honoring the band that began grunge music.