Sliver (song)

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Single by Nirvana
B-side "Dive"
Released September 1990
Format CD, 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl
Recorded April-July 1990
Genre Grunge, pop punk[1]
Length 2:14
Label Sub Pop
Writer(s) Kurt Cobain
Producer(s) Jack Endino
Nirvana singles chronology
"Candy"/ "Molly's Lips"
CD version cover

"Sliver" is a song by American rock band Nirvana. It was originally released as a non-album single in 1990 by Sub Pop. DGC re-released the song to radio to support the release of the rarities compilation album Incesticide in 1992.

Recording and composition[edit]

Nirvana member Kurt Cobain wrote the music to "Sliver" with Krist Novoselic and temporary drummer Dan Peters during a practice session.[2] Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop had requested that Nirvana release another single. While the band selected the previously recorded "Dive" as the b-side, Cobain wanted to take advantage of a studio break by the group TAD in July 1990 to record the a-side. TAD frontman Tad Doyle disliked the idea, but producer Jack Endino talked him into it. During a one-hour period, Nirvana recorded the basic tracks for "Sliver" using TAD's equipment.[3] Cobain completed writing the song's lyrics just before it was recorded.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

"Sliver" was released as a single in 1990 making the top 100 in the UK. Retail singles were not re-released for Incesticide, however the song was released in the US for radio airplay and charted on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. "Sliver" re-charted in the UK in 1992 at number 77 on the UK singles chart at the time of its inclusion on the Incesticide compilation album. "Sliver" also charted in Ireland two years after release, shortly after the success of the Nevermind album in 1992.

Nirvana biographer Everett True wrote a favorable review for Melody Maker—"Sure, the vocals are lazily throat splitting, the guitars belligerently grungy, the bass up and out of place . . . but check the melodies, damn fools, check the melodies. The only reason this isn't 'Single Of The Week' is because three even mightier singles were released this week."[4]

Music video[edit]

A music video was made for "Sliver" as promotion for Incesticide in March 1993. Directed by Kevin Kerslake, the video starts with Kurt Cobain's daughter Frances Bean Cobain (who was an infant at the time) dancing to the opening bassline and the band in a small, cramped, junk room playing their instruments. Kurt sings to the camera and his movements change with the music, with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl (though not having played drums during the recording session) in the background of the room. In between shots there are scenes of the baby and a Chim-Chim toy which had been given to Kurt by Shonen Knife as a present.[5]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Sliver"
  2. "Dive" (Cobain, Novoselic)
  3. "About a Girl" (live February 9, 1990 at the Pine Street Theatre, Portland, OR) [on CD and 12" vinyl versions only]
  4. "Spank Thru" (live February 9, 1990 at the Pine Street Theatre, Portland, OR) [on CD versions only]


Chart (1991 - 1993) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[6] 23
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[7] 90
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[8] 19

Cover versions[edit]

Year Artist Album
2010 Caspar Babypants This is Fun!
2011 Little Roy Battle for Seattle
2012 The Gaslight Anthem Handwritten
2013 Rise Against Long Forgotten Songs


  • Azerrad, Michael. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday, 1994. ISBN 0-385-47199-8


  1. ^ Nirvana - Uncensored On the Record. Coda Books Ltd. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-78158-005-9. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Azerrad, p. 145
  3. ^ Azerrad, p. 142
  4. ^ True, Everett (2007). Nirvana: The Biography. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81554-6. p. 203.
  5. ^ Cross, Charles. Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-8402-9. p.233
  6. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Sliver". Irish Singles Chart.
  7. ^ "Nirvana: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  8. ^ "Nirvana – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Nirvana.

External links[edit]