About a Girl (Nirvana song)

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"About a Girl"
Single by Nirvana
from the album MTV Unplugged in New York and Bleach
B-side "Something in the Way" (live)
Released October 24, 1994 (1994-10-24)
Format CD
Recorded November 18, 1993 (1993-11-18)
Genre Alternative rock
Length 3:37
Label DGC
Writer(s) Kurt Cobain
Producer(s) Nirvana and Scott Litt
Nirvana singles chronology
"Pennyroyal Tea"
(1994)
"About a Girl"
(1994)
"Aneurysm"
(1996)
MTV Unplugged in New York track listing
"About a Girl"
(1)
"Come As You Are"
(2)
"About a Girl"
Song by Nirvana from the album Bleach
Released June 15, 1989
Recorded 1988-1989
Genre Grunge
Length 2:48
Label Sub Pop
Writer Kurt Cobain
Producer Jack Endino
Bleach track listing

"About a Girl" is a song by the American grunge band, Nirvana. It is the third song on the group's debut album, Bleach (1989). It is also the first song on the posthumous MTV Unplugged in New York album from which it was a single in 1994.

History[edit]

"About a Girl" was written after Kurt Cobain spent an entire afternoon listening to Meet The Beatles! repeatedly.[1] At the time, Cobain was trying to conceal his pop songwriting instincts, and he was reluctant to include the song on Bleach for fear of alienating the band's then-exclusively grunge fan base. In a 1993 Rolling Stone interview with David Fricke, he explained:

"Even to put "About a Girl" on Bleach was a risk. I was heavily into pop, I really liked R.E.M., and I was into all kinds of old ‘60s stuff. But there was a lot of pressure within that social scene, the underground — like the kind of thing you get in high school. And to put a jangly R.E.M. type of pop song on a grunge record, in that scene, was risky." [2]

However, Bleach producer Jack Endino was excited about the song, and even saw it as a potential single. Years later, Butch Vig, who produced Nirvana's 1991 breakthrough album Nevermind, would cite "About a Girl" as the first hint that there was more to Nirvana than grunge. "Everyone talks about Kurt's love affair with... the whole punk scene, but he was also a huge Beatles fan, and the more time we spent together the more obvious their influence on his songwriting became," Vig told the NME in 2004.

"About a Girl" was recorded for Bleach in December 1988 by Endino in Seattle, Washington. It remained one of the few songs from Bleach which Nirvana continued to perform live until Cobain's death in April 1994. A live acoustic rendition was recorded during the band's MTV Unplugged set on November 18, 1993 at Sony Music Studios in New York City. It was released on the band's posthumous MTV Unplugged in New York album in 1994 and was the only commercial single from that album.

The Bleach version was re-released on the band's 2002 "best-of" compilation album, Nirvana. The Unplugged version was re-released on the band's second hits compilation album, Icon in 2010. The Unplugged version also appears as a playable song in the video game Guitar Hero World Tour, and the Bleach version appears as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game. "About a Girl" is also a BMI award winning song.[3]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

About A Girl was recorded in the key of E minor with the open chords of e minor and G being used for all verses. The power chords of C#5-G#5-F#5 are used twice for the start of the chorus followed by E5-E5-A5-C5 to finish the chorus. After the second chorus the main verse chords are played 4 times until an 8-measure repeated guitar solo is played followed by the chorus progression then the main riff is played 4 times to lead into the third verse and final chorus which the lyric "I can't see you every night" is repeated once and held till a final "for free" is sung and the lyrics "I do" are sung 4 times to end the song.

According to Chad Channing, Nirvana's drummer around the time of Bleach, Cobain didn't have a title for the song when he first brought it into the studio. When asked what it was about, Cobain replied, "It's about a girl." [4]

The girl in question was Tracy Marander, Cobain's then-girlfriend, with whom he lived at the time. Apparently, Marander had asked Cobain why he had never written a song for her, and Cobain responded with "About a Girl". The song addresses the couple's fractured relationship, caused by Cobain's refusal to get a job, or to share cleaning duties at their apartment (which housed many of his pets). During arguments on the subject, Cobain would occasionally threaten to move into his car, at which point Marander would usually relent.[citation needed]

Cobain never told Marander that he had written "About a Girl" for her. In the 1998 Nick Broomfield documentary Kurt and Courtney, Marander revealed that she only found out after reading Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana.

Single[edit]

The MTV Unplugged version was released as the only commercial single from MTV Unplugged in New York, peaking at number one on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart in late 1994. It also appeared on Billboard's Hot 100 Airplay chart, peaking at #22. Five thousand numbered limited edition copies were sold in Australia, and an additional 200 copies were unnumbered for promotional use. A standard single was also sold in countries across Europe. The music video came in at number 33 on the MTV Top 100 Video Countdown of 1994. The following songs appear on the single:

  1. "About a Girl" (Cobain)
  2. "Something in the Way" (Cobain)

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1994) Position
Australian Singles Chart[5][6] 4
Belgian Singles Chart[7][8] 13
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[9] 10
Denmark Singles Chart[10] 7
Dutch Top 40[11] 26
Dutch Top 100 Singles Chart[12] 22
Finland Singles Chart[13] 8
French Singles Chart[14] 23
Italian Singles Chart[15] 21
Sweden Singles Chart[16] 20
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[17] 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks[17] 1
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[17] 29
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay[18] 22

Other versions[edit]

Aside from the original version of "About a Girl" which was released on the Bleach album and the MTV Unplugged in New York version which was released as a single, several other versions of the song have been officially released:

  • A live version, recorded on February 9, 1990 at the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Oregon, appears as a B-side on the band's 1990 "Sliver" non-album single. Cobain later expressed embarrassment towards the inclusion of this particular live version, calling it "ragged" in "the most unappealing way". The entire Pine Street show appears as bonus material on the 2009 "Delluxe" re-release of Bleach.
  • A live version, recorded on November 25, 1991 at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, appears as bonus material on the DVD version of Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!, released in 2006.
  • The live version from the Paramount Theatre 1991 which was originally included on Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! was again released in 2011 when the entire Paramount Theatre show was made available on stand alone DVD and Blu-ray releases of Live at the Paramount. A CD version of the show along with a DVD were also available with the limited edition "Super Deluxe" box set, released for the 20th anniversary of the Nevermind album.

Accolades[edit]

  • Ranked #2 in NME's "Top 20 Nirvana Songs" (2004)
  • Ranked #2 in Q's "10 Greatest Nirvana Songs Ever" (2004)
  • Ranked #1 in Q's "The 100 Greatest Singers and their 1000 Greatest Songs" (2007) in which Kurt was ranked as the 7th greatest singer

Covers[edit]

According to the official Foo Fighters web site, Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl covered "About a Girl" with himself on vocals during a studio session with music producer and friend Barrett Jones at some point before Nirvana disbanded in 1994. The recording has yet to surface.[19]

Studio covers of the song have been done by American rock band Cibo Matto, on their 1999 Moonchild EP, and Brazilian singer/ songwriter Cibelle, on her 2005 About a Girl EP.

The song has been covered live by American rock band Puddle of Mudd. A reggae version of the song was released on the Little Roy album Battle for Seattle in 2011.

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994), Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana 
  2. ^ "LiveNIRVANA.com Interview Archive | 1993 | October 25, 1993 - Chicago, IL, US". Live Nirvana. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  3. ^ Nirvana songs listed by BMI. bmi.com Retrieved on December 26, 2012.
  4. ^ Krist Novoselic (2009-10-28). "Bleach: Krist Novoselic Interviews Chad Channing - Page 1 - Music - Seattle". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ About a Girl Charts. australian-charts.com. Retrieved on September 05, 2013.
  7. ^ Nirvana Belgiam Ultratop Charts. ultratop.be/nl. Retrieved on September 17, 2012.
  8. ^ Collin, Robert. Het Belgisch Hitboek: 45 Jaar Hits in Vlaanderen: 1954-1999. Lier, Vox. ISBN 90-76695-01-6.
  9. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 60, No. 20, December 05 1994". RPM. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  10. ^ "dankehitlister.dk -". Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  11. ^ Dutch Top 40. "Nirvana Dutch top 40 Archive". www.top40.nl. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  12. ^ dutchcharts.nl - Dutch charts portal
  13. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2003). Sisältää hitin: levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972. Otava Publishing Company Ltd. ISBN 951-1-21053-X.
  14. ^ Steffen Hung. "lescharts.com - Les charts français". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  15. ^ Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: N hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 14 June, 2013.
  16. ^ Steffen Hung. "swedishcharts.com - Swedish Charts Portal". Swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  17. ^ a b c "Billboard.com - Artist Chart History - Nirvana". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  18. ^ "Billboard.com - Artist Chart History - Nirvana Radio Charts". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  19. ^ 07:54 AM. "About a girl - Foo Fighters Postboard". Bbs.foofighters.com. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
Preceded by
"Zombie" by The Cranberries
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
December 10, 1994
Succeeded by
"Bang and Blame" by R.E.M.

External links[edit]