|Single by Nirvana|
|from the album In Utero|
|Format||CD, 7" single, 12" single, cassette|
|Recorded||February 1993 at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota|
|Nirvana singles chronology|
"Rape Me" is a song by the American grunge band Nirvana, written by frontman Kurt Cobain. The song was released as the second single from Nirvana's third album In Utero in 1993, packaged as a double A-side along with "All Apologies". The single reached number 32 on the UK Singles Chart.
Background and recording
"Rape Me" was written by Kurt Cobain on an acoustic guitar around the time the band's second album, Nevermind, was being mixed in 1991. Nirvana first performed the song live that year, although Cobain had not yet written the bridge section, playing a guitar solo instead.
Nirvana had wanted to play "Rape Me" during its performance at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. While MTV initially told the band they could play any song they wanted, the network later insisted that the group play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" instead. Hours before the show, Nirvana refused to play. However, due to concerns that the network could boycott other artists on the group's label if the group refused to play the show, Nirvana ultimately settled on performing its then-latest single "Lithium". At the start of the performance, Cobain started playing and singing "Rape Me" instead; he said he did so "just to give [MTV] a little heart palpitation". Panicked, MTV was moments away from switching from the live performance to a commercial when the band stopped playing "Rape Me" and started playing "Lithium".
Nirvana first recorded "Rape Me" during two-day demo sessions with producer Jack Endino in Seattle, Washington in October 1992. Two takes of the song were recorded; the first was instrumental, while the second featured lead vocals by Cobain and backing vocals by drummer Dave Grohl. Cobain was holding his then-infant daughter Frances Bean Cobain in his lap when he recorded his vocals, and she can be heard crying on the demo.
In February 1993, Nirvana traveled to Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, to record its third album In Utero with producer Steve Albini. The band recorded the music for "Rape Me" on February 15. The following day, Cobain completed his vocals for the album during a reported six-hour session.
Meaning, composition and lyrics
Kurt Cobain conceived "Rape Me" as a life-affirming anti-rape song. He told Spin, "It's like she's saying, 'Rape me, go ahead, rape me, beat me. You'll never kill me. I'll survive this and I'm gonna fucking rape you one of these days and you won't even know it.'"
Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad stated that "Rape Me" seemed to deal with Cobain's distaste of the media's coverage on his personal life. While Cobain said the song was written long before his troubles with drug addiction became public, he agreed that the song could be viewed in that light. Cobain also stated in a 1993 interview that Rape Me was a song meant to be so blunt that no one could misinterpret its meaning.
The pre-chorus ('I'm not the only one') is vaguely similar to (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone. It's likely an unconscious reference to The Monkees' version by Kurt, who grew up listening, watching and covering this band. Interestingly, the Monkees lifted their arrangement from Paul Revere and The Raiders, a band he hated. According to the opening note in Journals (Cobain), he and Krist Novoselic watched a "comical and goofy" performance by Revere on Late Show with David Letterman while stoned on acid (likely show 1249 on January 11, 1990: actually a spoof by The World's Most Dangerous Band). He asked Krist if he owned any of their records, and when the reply came 'YEAH', he "looked through his Big collection and found the Revere records and busted them". Kurt proceeded to destroy "about 250 shitty Krist Novoselic records" including The Eagles, The Carpenters, Yes (band) and Joni Mitchell. Krist declared he felt "cleansed and revitalized".
A live version of "Rape Me", recorded on Saturday Night Live on September 25, 1993, appears on the compilation album, Saturday Night Live: The Musical Performances, Volume 2, and on the DVD, Saturday Night Live: 25 Years of Music, Volume 4.
Two versions of the song appear on the 2004 Nirvana box set, With the Lights Out: a solo acoustic home demo, and the 1992 studio version. Both versions also appear on the 2005 compilation album, Sliver: The Best of the Box. Frances Bean Cobain can be heard crying in the background of the studio demo version.
A live version, recorded on October 31, 1991 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington, appears on disc four and the DVD of the "Super Deluxe" version of the 2011 Nevermind reissue, and on the standalone 2011 Live at the Paramount DVD and Blu-ray release.
The song was relabeled "Waif Me" on the packaging for Wal-Mart and Kmart stores, which found the actual title too controversial; the song itself remained unchanged, however. The song is listed by its proper title in the booklet.
CD single and 12" vinyl
Cassette and 7" vinyl
UK promo single
US promo CD (includes lyrics)
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||58|
|Belgian Singles Chart||43|
|French SNEP Singles Chart||20|
|Irish Singles Chart||20|
|New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart||32|
|UK Singles Chart||32|
Richard Cheese recorded a parody of this song on his album "Lounge Against the Machine" (A parody of the Band "Rage Against the Machine") in 2000.
- Azerrad, Michael. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday, 1994. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
- Cross, Charles. Heavier Than Heaven. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-6505-9.
- Gaar, Gillian G. In Utero. Continuum, 2006. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0.
- Azerrad, p. 323.
- Gaar, p. 19
- Azerrad, p. 276–77.
- Gaar, p. 19–20.
- Gaar, p. 56.
- Gaar, p. 61.
- Steinke, Darcey. "Smashing Their Heads On That Punk Rock". Spin. October 1993.
- Azerrad, p. 322–23.
- Schinder, Scott and Andy Schwartz. Icons of Rock Volume 2. Greenwood, 2007. 608.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 and 1993–2005. St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- Nirvana Belgiam Ultratop Charts. ultratop.be/nl. Retrieved on September 17, 2012.
- "Nirvana - All Apologies (Chanson)". Lescharts.com (in French). Retrieved on December 12, 2010.
- "Search the charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved on December 12, 2010.
- "Nirvana - All Apologies (Song)". Charts.org.nz. Retrieved on December 10, 2010.
- NIRVANA. OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved on January 16, 2013.
- Kerrang! magazine, issue 746, April 17, 1999. (voted by readers).