Old Age (song)

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"Old Age"
Song by Nirvana (re-recorded by Hole)
Releasedby Hole:
April 1993 ("Beautiful Son")
January 1995 ("Violet")
October 28, 1997 (My Body, the Hand Grenade)

by Nirvana:
November 23, 2004 (With the Lights Out)
November, 2005 (Sliver: The Best of the Box)
September 27, 2011 (Nevermind 20th Anniversary Deluxe edition)
GenreAlternative rock
Length4:22 (1991 Nirvana boom-box recording)
4:20 (1991 Nirvana recording)
3:36 (1993 Hole recording)
4:24 (1994 Hole recording)
LabelDGC (Nirvana version)
City Slang, DGC (Hole versions)
Composer(s)Kurt Cobain
Lyricist(s)Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love

"Old Age" is a song first released by the American rock band Hole, written by Kurt Cobain, the late husband of Hole's lead singer and guitarist, Courtney Love, and singer and guitarist of the American rock band, Nirvana. The song was unknown as a Nirvana song during the band's existence, and its authorship was originally attributed to Love. In a 1997 Melody Maker interview, Love revealed that the song was "partly someone else's composition"[1] without specifying whom, saying, "It's something somebody had a little bit of and I said 'let me have the rest of it' and I wrote this thing in it and tried to make it goth. I found it, wrote it, and recorded it the same night."[1] In 1998, a cassette of Nirvana performing the song during a rehearsal in March 1991 was given to the Seattle newspaper, The Stranger.


"Old Age" dates back to at least 1991. In March 1991, Nirvana recorded a demo on a boombox during a rehearsal in Tacoma, Washington for Butch Vig, who had been enlisted to produce their upcoming album, Nevermind, later that year.[2] The tape was intended to familiarize Vig with their current material. The song was attempted during the Nevermind sessions, at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California in May 1991, but never completed, featuring only scratch vocals by Cobain, and remained unmixed.[3] Sometime in 1992, Cobain recorded a solo, acoustic version on a boombox at his home in Los Angeles.[4] "Old Age" was never performed by Nirvana in concert, [5] but was considered for their 1993 MTV Unplugged performance. [6]

The first official release of "Old Age" was in April 1993, when an acoustic version appeared as a B-side on the Hole single, "Beautiful Son." A second, more polished studio version, featuring different lyrics and a different ending, was recorded by Paul Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade at Tricops Sound Studios in Marietta, Georgia in October 1993, during the sessions for what became Hole's second album, Live Through This. The song features pump organ by Slade. The full recording was omitted from the album, released in April 1994, but part of it was attached to the beginning of the song "Credit in the Straight World," which appears on the album. The full song was released as a b-side to the "Violet" single in March 1995, and re-released on the rarities compilation, My Body, the Hand Grenade, in October 1997. On February 14, 1995, Hole played the song as a part of their MTV Unplugged set in New York City.[7]

In 1998, a cassette of Nirvana's March 1991 rehearsal featuring the song was given to the Seattle newspaper The Stranger by an "anonymous source," suggesting that the song had originally started as a Nirvana song. When contacted by The Stranger as to the song's authorship, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic confirmed that the song was a Cobain composition.[2]

Nirvana's first official release of the song was in November 2004, when the unfinished studio version appeared on the rarities box set, With the Lights Out. The same version was re-released on the compilation album, Sliver: The Best of the Box, in November 2005. The March 1991 boombox demo was released on the 20th anniversary edition of Nevermind in September 2011.

Recording and release history[edit]

Artist Date recorded Studio Producer/recorder Releases Personnel
Nirvana March 1991 Converted barn, Tacoma Nirvana Nevermind (deluxe) (2011)
May 1991 Sound City Studios Butch Vig With the Lights Out (2004)
Sliver: The Best of the Box (2005)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums
1992 Cobain Residence,

Los Angeles

Kurt Cobain Unreleased[A]
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
Hole November 1992 Word of Mouth Productions Jack Endino Beautiful Son (1993)
October 1993 Triclops Studios, Atlanta Paul Q. Kolderie
Sean Slade
Violet (1995)
My Body, the Hand Grenade (1997)
  • Courtney Love - vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Eric Erlandson - lead guitar


  • A ^ Although the version of "Old Age" that was recorded in 1992 at the Cobain Residence remains officially unreleased, it was leaked onto the internet back in 2011.


  1. ^ a b Love, Courtney. Melody Maker. 1997. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b Wilston, Kathleen (1998). "Whose Song is it, Anyway?". The Stranger.
  3. ^ Cross, Charles; Berkenstadt, Jim (February 22, 2012). Classic Rock Albums: Nirvana - Nevermind. Schirmer Trade. ISBN 9780857127686.
  4. ^ Zilderist (2011-02-07), Nirvana - Old Age [Kurt Solo Acoustic Demo], retrieved 2017-09-22
  5. ^ Wolk, Douglas (April 8, 2015). "No Apologies: All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  6. ^ https://www.livenirvana.com/sessions/home/november1617-1993.php
  7. ^ Hole; MTV Unplugged (February 14, 1995). Roseland Ballroom