|Single by Hole|
|from the album Live Through This|
|B-side||"The Void" (UK CD, 7")
"Plump" (live) (UK CD, US 7")
"Hungry Like the Wolf" (live) (UK CD)
|Released||November 15, 1994|
|Recorded||October 1993Marietta, Georgiaat Triclops Studios in|
|Genre||Alternative rock, grunge|
|Producer(s)||Paul Q. Kolderie, Sean Slade|
|Hole singles chronology|
"Doll Parts" is a song by American alternative rock band Hole, written by vocalist and rhythm guitarist Courtney Love. The song was released as the band's sixth single and second from their second studio album, Live Through This, in November 1994 to accompany the band's North American tour. It was also the first single to be released following the death of bassist Kristen Pfaff in June 1994.
Courtney Love wrote the song in the fall of 1991 soon after she met Kurt Cobain, and has admitted that its lyrics were about her insecurity of his romantic interest in her. It went on to become one of the band's most popular songs, peaking on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks at number 4, and is considered by fans and critics alike as one of Hole's signature tracks.
Origin and recording
Courtney Love is known to have written "Doll Parts" as early as November 1991, performing it acoustically at a Hole concert in Massachusetts under the working title "I Am." The song developed into its final form less than two weeks later and became a regular number on setlists during the band's tour of Europe the United Kingdom the following month. Journalist Everett True also noted that Love performed an acoustic version of the song to him over a telephone at 4 a.m. during the band's tour.
The first known studio version of "Doll Parts" was recorded on November 19, 1991 at Maida Vale Studios as part of Hole's first radio session with BBC DJ John Peel. A second version of the song was recorded on March 27, 1993 with Mark Goodier, another BBC radio host, during a short three-date tour of England. In October 1993, the band recorded the album version of the song as part of the Live Through This sessions at Triclops Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.
Composition and lyrics
In the 1990s, during an interview on the television show Rage, Love divulged that she had written the song while staying in Boston at Joyce Linehan's apartment:
I was really impressed [by Linehan]. She was a lower-level music executive and she had lots of matching Body Shop shampoo and I'd never seen that before. And I thought 'one day I'll have enough money and all my cosmetics are gonna match'. I also thought that the guy I was going out with - who I later married [referring to Cobain]... and that wasn't the transvestite in Las Vegas the other time [referring to her short-lived marriage to James Moreland]... I thought that he didn't like me and that he liked this total poser idiot girl, so I wrote this song about him.
Love also said that the line "dog beg" was written into the first verse because there was a dog in the room with her begging for food.
Both the title of the song and the lyrical meaning are inspired by an encounter Love had with Kurt Cobain in 1991 prior to their relationship and marriage. Love had sent Cobain "a heart-shaped box scented with perfume and inside a porcelain doll, three dried roses, a miniature teacup and shellac-covered seashells" to apologize for their first meeting in May 1991, where Love infamously wrestled with Cobain. The box, purchased in an antique store in New Orleans, was later the influence for the Cobain-penned Nirvana song, "Heart-Shaped Box." The lyrics reflect Love's initial feelings about Cobain having felt rejected by his lack of communication, which is most accurately conveyed in the line: "he only loves those things because he loves to see them break."
Love's distinctive vocals and simple composition are heavily conveyed in the album version of the song.
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After Cobain's death in April 1994, "Doll Parts" took on a more tragic meaning with Love giving anguished performances of the song on tour. Drummer Patty Schemel has said that "certain things would remind her, a lot of the time on-stage, and it would just come out. Certain lyrics had a lot more meaning."
Musically, the song is composed of only three chords: A, Cmaj7, and G. In retrospect, Love noted the song's musical simplicity— "I still don't understand why that one song with just three chords is such a big thing, but it's definitely got some good lyrics." On both Live Through This and the individual single, the song is credited on record as written by Hole as a band, however according to BMI's website, the official author is solely Courtney Love.
Release and reception
"Doll Parts" was released in November 15, 1994 in the United States as the second single from Hole's second studio album, Live Through This (1994). It was released as a CD single, cassette and 7" on DGC Records, with alternate tracklistings for each pressing. Upon its release in Europe, three CD singles were released on DGC, Geffen Records and City Slang, with additional live recordings.
The song became Hole's highest-charting song in the United States, peaking at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay. "Doll Parts" peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in December 1994 and at number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1995. The song later charted on Canada's RPM Singles Chart, the UK Singles Chart, Belgian Singles Chart in Wallonia and the French Singles Chart.
The music video for "Doll Parts" was directed by Samuel Bayer—who had also directed music videos for The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana—and who Hole commissioned following the death of bassist Kristen Pfaff. Jennifer Finch of L7 is featured as the bassist in the video. Bayer has said that he wanted it "evoke the feeling of death" and used ideas conceived by Courtney Love throughout the video.
Love's ideas included a large amount of doll imagery, herself "in a babydoll dress looking demure while playing guitar on a bed" and "walking in a bleak backyard passing a children's table set for a tea party." Bayer designed the garden scenes to be "decaying" and added "a hundred plaster-wrapped dolls dangling from trees." Other scenes features a young blonde boy, a reference "meant to invoke Kurt [Cobain]", and footage of the band performing the song. Most of the video was shot in black-and-white and interspersed with various color shots. Two edits of "Doll Parts" has been broadcast—an original edit and a "producer's version."
In popular culture
- The song is played acoustically by the characters portrayed by Ellen Page and Jason Bateman in the film Juno (2007).
- A two-part episode of the series Degrassi is named after the song.
- "Doll Parts" was featured in the Defiance season two episode of the same name along with cover versions by Fyfe Monroe and Vital Fire.
Track listings and formats
- UK 7" single (GFS 91)
|1.||"Doll Parts"||Courtney Love||3:31|
|2.||"The Void"||Ana da Silva, Gina Birch||2:57|
- US 7" single (DGCS7-19379)
|1.||"Doll Parts"||C. Love||3:31|
|2.||"Plump" (live1)||C. Love, Eric Erlandson||2:42|
- UK CD single (GFSTD 91)
|1.||"Doll Parts"||C. Love||3:31|
|2.||"The Void"||A. da Silva, G. Birch||2:57|
|3.||"Hungry Like the Wolf" (live2)||Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor|
- UK VHS single(GDFSYD 91)
|1.||"Doll Parts" (Original video)||C. Love||3:49|
|2.||"Doll Parts" (Producer's Version video)||C. Love||3:49|
- UK CD single (GFSXD 91)
|1.||"Doll Parts"||C. Love||3:31|
|2.||"Plump" (live1)||C. Love, E. Erlandson||2:42|
|3.||"I Think That I Would Die" (live2)||C. Love, E. Erlandson, Kat Bjelland|
|4.||"Credit in the Straight World" (live2)||S. Moxham|
All personnel credits adapted from Live Through This's liner notes.
- Courtney Love – vocals, guitar, composition, writing
- Eric Erlandson – guitar
- Kristen Pfaff – bass, piano, backing vocals
- Patty Schemel – drums, percussion
- Technical personnel
|Canadian RPM Singles Chart||75|
|UK Singles Chart||16|
|US Billboard Hot 100||58|
|US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks||4|
|Belgian Singles Chart (Wa)||28|
|French SNEP Singles Chart||45||US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay||39|
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- Chaplin, Julia (1995). "Exposure: Nerve TV". Spin (Buzz Media) (March 1995): 26. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- Harris, Andrea L.; McAllister Ulrich, John (2003). GenXegesis: Essays on Alternative Youth (Sub)culture in the 1990s. Popular Press. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-8797-28625.
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