Sappy

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"Sappy"
aka "Verse Chorus Verse"
Song by Nirvana
from the album
No Alternative
With the Lights Out
Sliver: The Best of the Box
Nevermind (deluxe)
In Utero (deluxe)
Released October 26, 1993
Recorded February 1993 at Pachyderm Studios, Cannon Falls, Minnesota
Genre Punk rock
Length 3:24
Label Arista Records
Songwriter(s) Kurt Cobain
Producer(s) Steve Albini

"Sappy" is a song by the American rock band, Nirvana, written by vocalist and guitarist, Kurt Cobain. It was first released as a hidden track on the AIDS-benefit compilation album, No Alternative, in October 1993.[1] The song was released under the title "Verse Chorus Verse," but since this title is shared by another, abandoned Nirvana song, it is now referred to by its earlier title of "Sappy." The same version that appeared on No Alternative was re-released as "Sappy" on the Nirvana rarities box set, With the Lights Out, in November, 2004, with a note that it had been "retitled 'Verse Chorus Verse' for release" on the track list. A remixed version of the same recording appeared simply as "Sappy" on the 20th anniversary re-issue of In Utero in September, 2013. Earlier versions of the song have also been released under the title of "Sappy."

Origin and recording[edit]

Originally recorded under the working title "Sad", "Sappy" dates back to at least 1987. The first known version of the song is a solo home demo recorded by Cobain in the late 1980s.[2]

The song was recorded four times in the studio, with two different drummers.[3] The first studio version, featuring Chad Channing on drums, was recorded by Jack Endino at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, Washington on January 2 and 3, 1990. The band spent 10 hours working on the song, with much of that time spent trying to achieve a drum sound similar to Steve Albini's, according to Endino.[4] The second version was recorded by Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin during recording sessions from April 2 to 6, 1990, for a planned second album for Sub Pop, their label at the time, that never materialized.[5] The third version, featuring the band's new drummer Dave Grohl, was also recorded by Vig, during the sessions for their second album and first on DGC Records, Nevermind, at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, in May, 1991.

The song remained unreleased until a fourth version was recorded by Steve Albini at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota in February, 1993, during the recording sessions for the band's third and final album, In Utero. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic explained that the song was again recorded because "we liked to play that song," expressing satisfaction with his original bass line for the song, and saying that the song remained unchanged every time the band attempted it in the studio.[6] As Gillian G. Gaar notes, however, the Albini-recorded version is performed in a different key and at a faster tempo than previous studio versions, features a different guitar solo and is missing the instrumental intro of some of the earlier versions.[7] The song was not released on the album, and appeared instead as the final, unlisted track on the compilation album, No Alternative, in October, 1993. By this time it had apparently been renamed "Verse Chorus Verse," but since this title is shared by an earlier, abandoned Nirvana song,[8] it is usually called "Sappy" in order to avoid confusion.

An early track list for what would become In Utero, published in Cobain's Journals in 2002, shows the song "Verse Chorus Verse" as the proposed 12th song on the album, immediately preceding the closing track, "All Apologies."[9] Verse Chorus Verse was also briefly considered as a title for the album.[10] Albini expressed surprise that "Sappy" did not appear on In Utero, remembering it as "a pretty good song," but theorizing that "it wore out its welcome on the band, apparently."[11]

Despite being released as a hidden track, the song helped generate interest in No Alternative, and eventually became a frequently-requested song at concerts during the band's 1994 tour of Europe, which led to it being played live for the first time in nearly four years. The final live performance of the song was at a February 1994 concert in Milan, Italy.[12]

Lyrics and composition[edit]

In his 1993 biography Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, Michael Azerrad described "Sappy" as "a highly catchy tune about romantic entrapment."[13]

Reception[edit]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described "Sappy" as one of the several "exceptional" songs that make No Alternative "a worthy purchase".[14] In his Allmusic review of In Utero, Erlewine criticized the decision to omit "such great songs as 'Verse Chorus Verse' and 'I Hate Myself and Want to Die'...when they would have fit, even illuminated" the album's themes.[15]

In 2013, "Sappy" was voted the ninth best Nirvana song on Rolling Stone's reader's poll of the top 10 Nirvana songs.[16] In 2015, Rolling Stone listed it at number 32 on their ranking of 102 Nirvana songs.[17]

Demo and studio versions[edit]

Date recorded Studio Producer/recorder Releases
1986 - 1988 Cobain residence, Olympia, Washington Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (2015)
January, 1990 Reciprocal Recording Jack Endino Sliver: The Best of the Box (2005)[A]
April, 1990 Smart Studios Butch Vig Nevermind (deluxe) (2011)
May, 1991 Sound City Studios Butch Vig Unreleased[B]
February, 1993 Pachyderm Studio Steve Albini No Alternative (1993)
With the Lights Out (2004)
In Utero (deluxe) (2013)

Live versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • A ^ The version of "Sappy" recorded in January, 1990 at Reciprocal Recording is one of three previously-unreleased recordings on Sliver: The Best of the Box not taken from the box set, With the Lights Out. The version on With the Lights Out is the one recorded at Pachyderm Studios in February, 1993.
  • B ^ Although the version of "Sappy" that was recorded in May 1991 at Sound City Studios remains officially unreleased, it was leaked onto the internet in August 2015.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ All Music Guide - No Alternative allmusic.com. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  2. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. p. 5. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  3. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. p. 6. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  4. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. p. 6. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  5. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. p. 8. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  6. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. pp. 45, 46. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  7. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. pp. 45, 46. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  8. ^ The Rough Guide to Nirvana books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  9. ^ Cobain, Kurt (2002). Journals. Riverhead Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-57322-232-7. 
  10. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. p. 81. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  11. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). In Utero. United States: Continium. p. 46. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0. 
  12. ^ Nirvana's In Utero books.google.com. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  13. ^ Azerrad, Michael (October 1993). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. U.S.: Doubleday. p. 137. ISBN 0-385-47199-8. 
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "No Alternative". Allmusic. Retrieved 27 November 2017. 
  15. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "In Utero". Allmusic. Retrieved 27 November 2017. 
  16. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Nirvana Songs". April 10, 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2017. 
  17. ^ "No Apologies: All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  18. ^ Previously unheard version of Nirvana's 'Sappy' emerges online nme.com. Retrieved August 6, 2015.

External links[edit]