Old Age (song)

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"Old Age"
Song by Nirvana (re-recorded by Hole)
Released by 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)
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:22 (1991 Nirvana boom-box recording)
4:20 (1991 Nirvana recording)
3:36 (1993 Hole recording)
4:24 (1994 Hole recording)
Label DGC (Nirvana version)
City Slang, DGC (Hole versions)
Composer(s) Kurt Cobain
Lyricist(s) Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love

"Old Age" is a song written and composed by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, which was later re-written and re-recorded by his wife, Courtney Love, and her band Hole.

Although Nirvana's and Hole's renditions of the song share the same title and melody, the lyrics used in Hole's version are entirely different from those used in the original Nirvana recording.


"Old Age" was originally written and recorded by Cobain as a rough demo in 1991 during the Nevermind sessions.[1] Sometime in 1992, Cobain recorded a solo acoustic version through a boombox at his home in Los Angeles.[2]

In November 1992, Hole recorded an acoustic version of the song, released in April 1993 as a b-side to their single "Beautiful Son", and at this point, their version was the only known version in existence. Although Hole's rendition of "Old Age" retains the melody and chorus structure of Cobain's original song, the lyrics were completely re-written by Love.[3] Another Hole version of the song, with alternate lyrics, was recorded for a radio session in March 1993.

In October 1993, while recording Live Through This, a more polished studio version of "Old Age" was recorded by Hole, with slightly different lyrics from the first two versions, a different ending, and an interlude accompanied by an organ, but it did not make it onto the album. The interlude for the song, however, was attached to the beginning of the track "Credit in the Straight World", which was included on Live Through This. A full version of this recording of "Old Age" was eventually released as a b-side to the single, "Violet" in 1995, and again in 1997 on the compilation album, My Body, the Hand Grenade.

In 1997, Love discussed the track in an interview with Melody Maker, saying that the song was "partly someone else's composition",[3] though she didn't specify whom. "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."[3] On February 14, 1995, Hole played the song as a part of their MTV Unplugged set in New York City.[4]

In spite of Hole's version of the song being adapted from Cobain's recording, the BMI registry lists the song as being written and composed solely by Love.[5] In 1998, an article was published in The Stranger in which Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic stated that "Old Age" had originally been written by Cobain, recorded once on a boom box tape cassette.[1]

It was not until 2004 that a studio demo of "Old Age" performed by Nirvana was released on the Nirvana rarities box set With the Lights Out and the following year the same version appeared on the compilation album Sliver: The Best of the Box. Another version recorded by Nirvana on a boom-box was released on the 20th Anniversary edition of the Nevermind album in 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
  • 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


  1. ^ a b Wilston, Kathleen (1998). "Whose Song is it, Anyway?". The Stranger. 
  2. ^ Zilderist (2011-02-07), Nirvana - Old Age [Kurt Solo Acoustic Demo], retrieved 2017-09-22 
  3. ^ a b c Love, Courtney. Melody Maker. 1997.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Hole; MTV Unplugged (February 14, 1995). Roseland Ballroom
  5. ^ BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) Work #1954949, "Old Age".