Nirvana: Courtney Love Breaks Silence on ‘Nevermind’ for Its 30th Anniversary
On Sept. 24, 1991, 30 years ago, Nirvana released their certified diamond album Nevermind. In the 30 years since its release, Nevermind has become one of the best-selling albums of all time. Everything about the album changed the way we viewed music at the time. It changed the music industry and helped usher in a new cultural era.
Despite the recent legal drama between Nirvana and the now-grown-up Nevermind baby, the album will continue to inspire generations of musicians to come, even without the famous album cover. But on this 30th anniversary, one person has finally opened up about what the album means to them. Kurt Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, has kept her silence on Nevermind for three decades, but why?
Courtney Love has rarely talked about Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’
Love has rarely talked about her husband’s most famous album, and nor is she likely to after this milestone, she tells the LA Times. The reason for that is because it’s painful for her. Not only did the album overshadow her own band’s debut album (Hole’s Pretty on the Inside), but it catapulted Cobain into something he didn’t really want; fame. Not to mention it put her and Cobain’s relationship in a spin.
Love realized she’s rarely spoken publicly about Nevermind. “I never talk about ‘Nevermind’! I have no idea what I’m going to say. I’m shocked it has been 30 years.”
Despite her opinions of the album, Love does recognize that it made her husband very proud. “Kurt was born a Halley’s Comet. It’s a miracle the record got made and that he found a great drummer and had a bass player he could rely on,” she said. Cobain was happy making Nevermind. “He now had agency. He had the courage to change both himself and the world, and with success he became emboldened.” With Nevermind, Love says that “we all rode his [Cobain’s] gravy train. That’s what happened.”
Courtney Love thinks ‘In Bloom’ should have come out before ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
In opening up on her husband’s best-selling album, Love shared which songs she likes the most. She loves “In Bloom” so much that she thinks Nirvana should have released the song before the band’s hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“I’m very firmly in the club that says ‘In Bloom’ should have been the first single from the album,” Love continues to tell the LA Times. She thinks that releasing “In Bloom” first would have dulled the success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and therefore dulled Nirvana’s skyrocketing fame. “Life would have turned out simpler and better had I been heard,” she said. Love thinks “In Bloom” is a better song because it “had no shtick.”
“I’m not really a fan of the idea that it all ‘could have’ been that different, but ‘In Bloom’ might have shifted things,” she explained. “He might have survived had somebody else [gone first]. Like Eddie Vedder, somebody who had good infrastructure.”
“But I will admit, I am in a sparsely populated club on this,” she continued. Even though “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was played on heavy rotation on MTV, “In Bloom” did become a hit too.
Courtney Love says she also likes ‘On a Plain’ and ‘Something in the Way’
Besides thinking “In Bloom” is better than “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Love’s favorite song on Nevermind is “On a Plain.” She also says that “Something in the Way” is “one of the great rock songs of all time.” She calls the song Cobain’s “Velveteen Rabbit.”
“He is clawing his way out on ‘Something in the Way.’ He’s telling himself anything just to get through. The other part of that song, about him living under a bridge, his mom told me later isn’t true because the river was tidal, but it doesn’t matter. The place he writes from is so emotionally desperate we all understand it,” she explained. Love also touched on the controversial “Polly.” She says that Cobain would never be able to sing that song today, which she thinks is sad.
When Nevermind started dominating the charts, Love remembers, “We were in Salem, Ore., when ‘Nevermind’ went to No. 1. He cried. I cried. We were really scared.” Cobain didn’t know what to do with all that fame. It changed him. The memories are triggering, which is why this will likely be the last time she talks about it.
In the beginning, she didn’t know what she’d be able to say about Nevermind. Well, it turns out she was able to say a lot. She’s now able to listen to Nevermind entirely through and thinks about Cobain’s joy making it. We needed this perspective of the classic album from the start.