Monday, September 1, 2008

Nirvana's saddest song?

This song sucks. It's "Seasons in the Sun," first recorded in French, a huge hit for Terry Jacks. Nirvana covered the song, video below the fold. They even played it in concerts, at least once in Sao Paulo. This website describes one technique used in the song as a "truck driver's gear change." It's when the artist(s) repeat a verse or chorus in a different key, prolonging the song and usually the agony of its listeners. It frequently winds up with singers out of key and makes the mess of the song, as is the case with the performance in Sao Paulo. I think the only Nirvana song (by this, I mean a song they wrote) where this definitely happens is "Lounge Act" from Nevermind. I'll have to listen to "School" and "Negative Creep" to see if they used one of these truck driver's gear changes there; the songs are pretty repetitive so I wouldn't be surprised.

Any way, when I saw the video for the first time a few months ago the song evoked a strong sense of sadness. It is a sad song and perhaps Kurt Cobain, one of the saddest artists of all time (maybe that's a bit hyperbolic, we'll see), captures it beautifully in the home video version.

Here's the home video:

That's Kurt playing the drums (just in case you were in a hole fifteen years ago, he was the guitarist), David Grohl, normally the drummer, plays the bass, and Chris Novoselic, the bassist, plays the guitar here. Kurt still sings this version, though in Sao Paulo, they all sing and the song breaks down:

The only other Nirvana songs that could be quite this sad our Nevermind's "Something in the Way" or In Utero's "Milk It" (more depressing than sad; "Look on the bright side is suicide") or "Pennyroyal Tea" (pretty depressing too). Of course, Kurt wrote all the lyrics and was bipolar (that used to be called manic-depression), so the depression shouldn't be much of a surprise.

No comments: