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Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York

27 10 2010

Listened: Tuesday October 5

It took reading wikipedia’s article on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album for me to grasp how unique it is. Since I grew up with it, it was a normal part of history for me, and I hadn’t really thought about how odd it was that they played relatively few of their own songs, and almost none of the big hits at all.

They play songs by David Bowie, The Meat Puppets, The Vaselines, and Leadbelly. These are probably artists and songs almost no mainstream rock fans were familiar with at the time.

I heard this version of The Man Who Sold The World before I ever heard the Bowie version, and as a result, I prefer it. It’s one of the spookiest songs I can think of, second only to Ghost Town by The Specials. (My Mind Playing Tricks on Me by Geto Boys is on that list too.) As a rabid reader of rock magazines, I had heard mention of the Meat Puppets before, but was totally unfamiliar with their music before hearing this. The covers of their songs are some of the best on the album.

The capper to all this is Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night – which Kurt totally tears up like probably no one else could. He gives us the 90s punky version of the blues, which works out perfectly. Even more so than his own songs, it gives us a glimpse of the struggles he was going through at the time.

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