All Apologies

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"All Apologies"
Single by Nirvana
from the album In Utero
A-side"Rape Me"
B-side"Moist Vagina"
Released6 December 1993
FormatCD, 7" single, 12" single, cassette
RecordedFebruary 1993 at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota
Songwriter(s)Kurt Cobain
Producer(s)Steve Albini
Nirvana singles chronology
"Heart-Shaped Box"
"All Apologies"
"Pennyroyal Tea"
In Utero track listing
12 tracks
  1. "Serve the Servants"
  2. "Scentless Apprentice"
  3. "Heart-Shaped Box"
  4. "Rape Me"
  5. "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle"
  6. "Dumb"
  7. "Very Ape"
  8. "Milk It"
  9. "Pennyroyal Tea"
  10. "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter"
  11. "tourette's"
  12. "All Apologies"
Music video
"All Apologies" on YouTube

"All Apologies" is a song by American rock band Nirvana, written by vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain. It is the 12th and final song on the band's third and final studio album, In Utero, released in September, 1993. In December, 1993, it was released as the second single as a double A-side with the song, "Rape Me".

"All Apologies" was Nirvana's third number-one Modern Rock hit and reached number 32 on the UK Singles Chart. It was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1995, and was included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll".

Origin and recording[edit]

"All Apologies" was written by Cobain in 1990. In 2005, drummer Dave Grohl recalled that the song was "something that Kurt wrote on [a] 4-track in our apartment in Olympia. I remember hearing it and thinking, 'God, this guy has such a beautiful sense of melody, I can’t believe he’s screaming all the time.'" [1]

The song was first recorded in the studio by Craig Montgomery at Music Source Studios in Seattle, Washington on January 1, 1991. This version featured a folkier sound, with bassist Krist Novoselic accompanying Cobain on guitar playing seventh chords, and Grohl's drumming accented by a tambourine.[2] "All Apologies" was first performed live at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England on November 6, 1991.

Nirvana recorded the song for their third album, In Utero, in February 1993 with Steve Albini at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. The song, at that point tentatively titled "La La La," was recorded on February 14. The recording featured Kera Schaley on cello, who also played on "Dumb," and was the only musician to appear on the album other than the band members.[3] Albini recalled "really liking the sound of that song as a contrast to the more aggressive ones" on the album, saying that "it sounded really good in that it sounded lighter, but it didn't sound conventional. It was sort of a crude light sound that suited the band."[4] In 1993, Cobain said songs such as "All Apologies" and "Dumb" represented "the lighter, more dynamic" sound that he wished had been more prominent on previous Nirvana albums.[5]

"All Apologies" was remixed, along with "Heart-Shaped Box" and later "Pennyroyal Tea", by Scott Litt at Bad Animals in Seattle, Washington,[6] as Cobain felt that the vocals and bass sounded "mushy" in Albini's mixes. "All Apologies" and "Heart-Shaped Box" were remixed in May, 1993.[7] Novoselic defended the band's decision to remix the two songs by calling them "gateways" to the more abrasive sound of the rest of the album, and that once listeners played the record they would discover "this aggressive wild sound, a true alternative record".[8]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Cobain dedicated "All Apologies" to his wife, Courtney Love, and their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, during the band's appearance at the Reading Festival in Reading, England on August 30, 1992. "I like to think the song is for them," he told Michael Azerrad in the 1993 biography, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, "but the words don't really fit in relation to us...the feeling does, but not the lyrics." Cobain summarized the song's mood as "peaceful, happy, comfort – just happy happiness."[9]

Release and reception[edit]

"All Apologies" was released as a double A-side single with "Rape Me" on December 6, 1993 on CD, cassette tape, and 7" and 12" vinyl record formats.[10] The only instruction Cobain gave the single's art director Robert Fisher regarding the packaging was that he wanted "Something with seahorses".[11] Like its predecessor "Heart-Shaped Box", the single was not released commercially in the United States.[10] However, the song did peak at number 1 on the US Modern Rock Tracks Chart, remaining on the chart for twenty-one weeks and boosting sales of the In Utero album nationwide.[12] In February 1994, "All Apologies" was voted in as the number one most wanted song by listeners of the Hawaii Free Radio.[13]

Everett True of Melody Maker made "All Apologies" the magazine's "Single Of The Week," calling it "the most supremely resigned, supremely weary fuck you to the outside world I've heard this year," with "the most gorgeous, aching tune, an emotionally draining ennui."[14] In his review of In Utero for Rolling Stone, David Fricke called the song a "stunning trump card, the fluid twining of cello and guitar hinting at a little fireside R.E.M. while the full-blaze pop glow of the chorus shows the debt of inspiration Cobain has always owed to Paul Westerberg and the vintage Replacements."[15]

"All Apologies" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Rock Song in 1995.[16] "All Apologies" is also a BMI Award-winning song,[17] for being the most played song on American college radio during the eligible period from 1994 to 1995.[18] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has included "All Apologies" on its list of "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll".[19]

In 2005, Blender ranked the song at number 99 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born.[20] In 2011, it was ranked at number 462 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[21]

On April 10, 2017, the song was performed by surviving Nirvana members Grohl, Novoselic and Pat Smear, with lead vocals by New Zealand musician Lorde, at Nirvana's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York. The performance also featured Annie Clark, Kim Gordon and Joan Jett.

On February 4, 2018, an instrumental version of the song appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for T-mobile.[22] This version originally appeared on the 2006 album Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana, part of the Rockabye Baby! series of albums which reinterpreted songs by popular artists as lullabies, aimed towards infants. It also appeared in the 2015 Cobain documentary Montage of Heck, directed by Brett Morgen.[23]

Music video[edit]

According to comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who opened for Nirvana at some shows during the band's In Utero tour, Cobain had wanted to make a music video for "All Apologies" that involved him being drunk at a party. Goldthwait suggested that Cobain perform the song dressed as Lee Harvey Oswald, singing into the camera while putting his rifle together in the Texas School Book Depository from which he assassinated American president, John F. Kennedy. Cobain told Goldthwait that MTV didn't allow guns in music videos, so Goldthwait suggested he use a pie instead of a gun, with Novoselic or Grohl playing Kennedy and being hit by the pie in the back of their head. Cobain liked the idea, but no official music video for the song was ever made.[24] The MTV Unplugged performance of the song began airing as a music video on MTV in December 1993 instead.[25]

MTV Unplugged version[edit]

"All Apologies"
All Apologies (unplugged).jpg
Promotional single by Nirvana
from the album MTV Unplugged in New York
ReleasedEarly 1994
Recorded18 November 1993 at Sony Music Studios in New York City
GenreAlternative rock, acoustic rock
LabelDGC Records
Songwriter(s)Kurt Cobain
Producer(s)Alex Coletti, Scott Litt, Nirvana
MTV Unplugged in New York track listing

An acoustic version of the song, featuring Smear on second guitar and Lori Goldston on cello, was recorded during Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance at Sony Music Studios in New York City on November 18, 1993. MTV began airing this version of the song as a music video shortly after, which coincided with the release of the song as the second single from In Utero in December 1993.[25] When asked in a 1993 MTV interview about the use of this version as the song's music video, Cobain revealed, "I don't think ["All Apologies"] was the best performance off the Unplugged thing," and said that he believed the band had "played that song a lot better before," but admitted he had been too busy with touring to come up with a music video for the studio version.[26]

The Unplugged version of "All Apologies" was released as a promotional single in early 1994,[27][28][29], and on the album MTV Unplugged in New York in November 1994. It was ranked number seven on MTV's "Top 100 Video Countdown of 1994"[30], and despite Cobain's reservations, went on to receive more radio airplay than the studio version.[31] It appears on both of the band's greatest hits albums, Nirvana (2002) and Icon (2010).

Formats and track listing[edit]

Charts and awards[edit]


  • Kurt Cobain – vocals, guitars
  • Krist Novoselic – bass
  • Dave Grohl – drums

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Kera Schaley – cello

Recording and release history[edit]

Demo and studio versions[edit]

Date recorded Studio Producer/recorder Releases Personnel
January 1, 1991 Studio A, the Music Source, Seattle, Washington Craig Montgomery In Utero (deluxe) (2013)
  • Kurt Cobain (vocals, guitar)
  • Krist Novoselic (guitar)
  • Dave Grohl (drums)
Unknown Cobain residence Kurt Cobain With the Lights Out (2004)
Sliver: The Best of the Box (2005)
  • Kurt Cobain (vocals, guitar)
February 1993 Pachyderm Studios, Cannon Falls, Minnesota Steve Albini In Utero (1993)
  • Kurt Cobain (vocals, guitar)
  • Krist Novoselic (bass)
  • Dave Grohl (drums)
  • Kera Schaley (cello)

Live versions[edit]

Date recorded Venue Releases Personnel
August 30, 1992 Reading Festival, Reading, England Live at Reading (2009)
  • Kurt Cobain (vocals, guitar)
  • Krist Novoselic (bass)
  • Dave Grohl (drums, backing vocals)
November 18, 1993 Sony Music Studios, New York City, New York MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)
Nirvana (2002)
Icon (2010)
  • Kurt Cobain (vocals, guitar)
  • Krist Novoselic – (bass)
  • Dave Grohl (drums, backing vocals)
  • Pat Smear (guitar)
  • Lori Goldston (cello)
December 13, 1993 Pier 48, Seattle, Washington Live and Loud (2013)
  • Kurt Cobain (vocals, guitar)
  • Krist Novoselic (bass)
  • Dave Grohl (drums, backing vocals)
  • Pat Smear (guitar)

Cover versions[edit]

Year Artist Album
1994 Sinéad O'Connor Universal Mother
1996 Herbie Hancock The New Standard
2011 Little Roy Battle for Seattle


  • Azerrad, Michael. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday, 1994. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  • DeRogatis, Jim. Milk It!: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the 90's. Da Capo, 2003. ISBN 0-306-81271-1.
  • Gaar, Gillian G. In Utero. Continuum, 2006. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0.
  • St Thomas, Kurt and Smith, Troy. Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects. St Martin's Griffin (2004). ISBN 0-312-20663-1.


  1. ^ Orshoski, Wes. Dave Grohl: Honor Roll. Harp.
  2. ^ Gaar, p. 13-14
  3. ^ Gaar, p. 55
  4. ^ Gaar, p. 56
  5. ^ Fricke, David (January 27, 1994). "Kurt Cobain, The Rolling Stone Interview: Success Doesn't Suck". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  6. ^ Garr, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. p. 59. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0.
  7. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2009). The Rough Guide to Nirvana. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-4053-8119-2.
  8. ^ DeRogatis, p. 18
  9. ^ Azerrad, p. 32
  10. ^ a b Gaar, Gillian G. "Verse Chorus Verse: The Recording History of Nirvana". Goldmine. February 14, 1997.
  11. ^ Gaar, p. 85-86
  12. ^ St. Thomas, Kurt. Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects. New York City: St. Martin's Press. p. 192. ISBN 0312206631.
  13. ^ "The Hawaiian Island Music Report". February 13, 1994. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  14. ^ True, Everett (2007). Nirvana: The Biography. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81554-6. p. 502.
  15. ^ Fricke, David (September 16, 1993). "Nirvana: In Utero". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  16. ^ Pareles, Jon (February 26, 1995). "Playing Grammy Roulette". The New York Times. Retrieved on March 6, 2009.
  17. ^ Nirvana songs listed by BMI. Retrieved on December 26, 2012.
  18. ^ "Cashbox magazine – News" (PDF). Cashbox. May 27, 1995. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  19. ^ "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  20. ^ #99 in Blender's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born
  21. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (1–500)". Retrieved on April 21, 2015.
  22. ^ Thomas, Helen (February 5, 2018). "Listen to this new baby friendly version of Nirvana's 'All Apologies'". NME. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  23. ^ Trapp, Philip (February 5, 2018). "Lullaby version of a Nirvana song airs during the Super Bowl". Altpress. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  24. ^ Here's What Kurt Cobain Originally Wanted to Do for the 'All Apologies' Video Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  25. ^ a b Billboard – Video Monitor – New Adds (PDF). Billboard. December 18, 1993. p. 37. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  26. ^ Hankey, Rick; Carr, Jennifer (2015). Kurt Cobain Talks Music Videos, His Stomach & Frances Bean (Video). Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  27. ^ Billboard magazine – 5 Feb 1994 Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  28. ^ a b St Thomas, Kurt and Smith, Troy. p. 242.
  29. ^ a b Nirvana – Nirvana – All Apologies Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  30. ^ St Thomas, Kurt and Smith, Troy. p. 225.
  31. ^ St Thomas, Kurt and Smith, Troy. p. 171.
  32. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart — Week Ending 20 Feb 1994". ARIA. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
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  34. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2407." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  35. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. January 15, 1994. p. 15. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  36. ^ " – Nirvana – All Apologies" (in French). Les classement single.
  37. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – All Apologies/Rape Me". Irish Singles Chart.
  38. ^ " – Nirvana – All Apologies". Top 40 Singles.
  39. ^ "ALL APOLOGIES". Polskie Radio. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  40. ^ "Archiwum Listy Przebojow – Trojki – Nrivana". Polskie Radio. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  41. ^ "Nirvana: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  42. ^ "Nirvana Chart History (Radio Songs)". Billboard.
  43. ^ "Nirvana Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  44. ^ "Nirvana Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.

External links[edit]