Doll Parts

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"Doll Parts"
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 (1994-11-15)
Format CD single
Recorded October 1993 (1993-10) at Triclops Studios in Marietta, Georgia
Genre Alternative rock, grunge
Length 3:31
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Courtney Love[1]
Producer(s) Paul Q. Kolderie, Sean Slade
Hole singles chronology
"Miss World"
"Doll Parts"

"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.[2] 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.[3]

Origin and recording[edit]

Courtney Love is known to have written "Doll Parts" as early as November 1991, performing it acoustically at a Hole concert in Massachusetts[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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[edit]

"Doll Parts" is known to deal with themes of love, rejection, and fear of unrequited romance. Speaking to Uncut magazine in 2010, Love stated that it was "a song about Kurt (Cobain)."[2]

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.[7]

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.[2]

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"[8] 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."[9]

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."[2] 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.[1]

Release and reception[edit]

"Doll Parts" was released on November 15, 1994 in the United States as the second single from Hole's second studio album, Live Through This (1994).[10] 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.[11] "Doll Parts" peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in December 1994[12] and at number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1995.[12] The song later charted on Canada's RPM Singles Chart,[13] the UK Singles Chart,[14] Belgian Singles Chart in Wallonia[15] and the French Singles Chart.[16]

Music video[edit]

Doll symbolism and a child resembling Kurt Cobain are prominent in the song's music video

The music video for "Doll Parts" was directed by Samuel Bayer[17]—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"[18] 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."[19] Bayer designed the garden scenes to be "decaying" and added "a hundred plaster-wrapped dolls dangling from trees."[18] Other scenes features a young blonde boy, a reference "meant to invoke Kurt [Cobain]",[20] 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."[21]

The video for "Doll Parts" was nominated for Best Alternative Video at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards but lost to "Buddy Holly" by Weezer.[22]

In popular culture[edit]

Track listings and formats[edit]

UK 7" single (GFS 91)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Doll Parts"   Courtney Love 3:31
2. "The Void"   Ana da Silva, Gina Birch 2:57
Total length:
US 7" single (DGCS7-19379)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Doll Parts"   C. Love 3:31
2. "Plump" (live1) C. Love, Eric Erlandson 2:42
Total length:
UK CD single (GFSTD 91)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
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  
Total length:
UK VHS single(GDFSYD 91)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Doll Parts" (Original video) C. Love 3:49
2. "Doll Parts" (Producer's Version video) C. Love 3:49
Total length:
UK CD single (GFSXD 91)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
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  
Total length:


All personnel credits adapted from Live Through This's liner notes.[24]

Technical personnel

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[25] 136
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[13] 75
UK Singles Chart[14] 16
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 58
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[12] 4
Chart (1995) Peak
Belgian Singles Chart (Wa)[15] 28
French SNEP Singles Chart[16] 45
US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay[11] 39


  1. ^ a b "BMI Repertoire Search,". BMI. Retrieved April 8, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d Love, Courtney. Uncut (August 2010): 26.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  3. ^ "Hole - Live Through This (album review)". Sputnikmusic. November 21, 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2010.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ " - The Ultimate Hole Trading Community". 2010. Retrieved December 11, 2010.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ True, Everett (2006). Nirvana: The True Story. Omnibus Press. p. 317. ISBN 1-84449-640-6. 
  6. ^ "BBC - Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - 19/11/1991 Hole". BBC Radio 1. October 2005. Retrieved December 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ Creswell, Toby. 1001 Songs. Hardie Grant Publishing. p. 579. ISBN 978-1740664585. 
  8. ^ Cross, Charles R. (2001). Heavier Than Heaven. Hodder and Stoughton. p. 181. ISBN 0-340-73939-8. 
  9. ^ Schemel, Patty. Interview on Behind The Music: Courtney Love. 2010. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  10. ^ "Doll Parts [Cassette Single] – Hole: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Hole - Chart History". Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Live Through This – Hole: Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "RPM 100 – Hit Tracks & Where to Find Them" (PDF). RPM. Library and Archives Canada. November 14, 1994. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Hole | Artist". The Official Charts Company. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved December 11, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b "Hole – Doll Parts". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Hole – Doll Parts". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Doll Parts | Hole | Music Video". MTV. Viacom. July 3, 1996. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Chaplin, Julia (1995). "Exposure: Nerve TV". Spin (Buzz Media) (March 1995): 26. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ Marks, Craig (1995). "Endless Love". Spin (Buzz Media) (February 1995): 50. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Hole". YouTube. Google. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  22. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards | 1995 | Highlights, Winners, Performers and Photos from the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  23. ^ Taylor, Jade (April 6, 2016). "Jeffree Star Tells Us All About His Cosmetics Line". Nylon. Retrieved July 12, 2016. 
  24. ^ Live Through This (CD). Hole. Geffen Records. 1994. LC 07266. 
  25. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received July 12, 2016". Retrieved July 12, 2016. 

External links[edit]