Sliver (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Sliver"
Nirvana sliver cover.gif
Single by Nirvana
B-side "Dive"
Released September 1, 1990
Format 7-inch single
Recorded April–July 1990
Genre Grunge
Length 2:16
Label Sub Pop
Songwriter(s) Kurt Cobain
Producer(s) Jack Endino
Nirvana singles chronology
"Love Buzz"
(1988)
"Sliver"
(1990)
"Candy/Molly's Lips"
(1991)
CD issue
CD issue
Music video
"Sliver" on YouTube

"Sliver" is a song by American rock band Nirvana, written by vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain. It was originally released as a non-album single in 1990 by the band's then record label, Sub Pop. The same recording was re-released by DGC on the compilation album Incesticide in December 1992, and a music video for the song was released to promote the album.

Origin and recording[edit]

"Sliver" was written in 1990. According to the 1993 biography Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana by Michael Azerrad, the song was written during a rehearsal with Dan Peters, who briefly played drums with Nirvana while the future of his own band, Mudhoney, was uncertain. According to Azerrad, the lyrics to "Sliver" were written shortly before they were recorded,[2] although an acoustic demo of the song, first released on Nirvana box set, With the Lights Out, in November 2004, suggests that Cobain had written some of the lyrics before entering the studio to record the vocals. "I decided I wanted to write the most ridiculous pop song I had ever written," Cobain explained to Azerrad, in order "to prepare people for the next album," which became their 1991 release, Nevermind.[3]

Much of the song was recorded by Jack Endino at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, Washington on July 11, 1990, during a studio break by the Sub Pop band, TAD [4] "We called Tad up and asked if we could come over and record the song," Cobain recalled in a Melody Maker interview with journalist Push in December, 1990. "We used their instruments while they sat around eating. But that's nothing new...the key to a successful album is to get the fuck out of the studio before you're sick of the songs."[5] With Peters on drums, the band recorded the song's music in less than an hour.[6] Two weeks later, on July 24, Cobain returned to the studio and recorded his vocals as well as additional guitar with Endino, who then mixed the track.[7]

Cobain was pleased with the recording, telling Azerrad, "It has a massive naïveté to it. It was done so fast and raw and perfect that I don't think we could capture that again if we decided to rerecord it. It's just one of those recordings that happened and you can't try to reproduce it.[8]

Unlike most Nirvana songs, "Sliver" was recorded in the studio before it had ever been played live. Its live debut was on September 22, 1990 at the Motor Sports International Garage in Seattle, the only show that Peters ever played with the band.[9] "Sliver" also represents Peters' only appearance on a Nirvana studio recording. Cobain was happy with the time Peters spent with Nirvana, telling Azerrad, "The chemistry was definitely there...We could have ended up writing some really good songs together."[10] As Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic explained, however, "If Dan were to have joined our band it would've been certain that Mudhoney was finished, and we didn't want to be responsible for that."[11]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

According to Azerrad, "Sliver" contains the most literal lyrics that Cobain ever wrote, telling a seemingly autobiographical story of a boy who is left with his grandparents by his parents for the day, has a difficult time eating dinner and playing, insists on being taken home until he finally falls asleep after eating ice-cream and watching television, and later wakes up in his "mother's arms."[12] Despite the straightforward lyrics, the song was given an intentionally confusing title, with Cobain explaining, "I had a feeling if I called it 'Sliver,' most people would call it 'Silver.'"[12]

Release and reception[edit]

The "Sliver" single was first released on 7-inch vinyl in the US in 1990 by Sub Pop. It was released on CD single, 7-inch vinyl and 12-inch vinyl in the UK in 1991 on the Tupelo record label, and peaked at number 90 on the UK Singles Chart. The single charted at number 23 in Ireland in 1992, due to the success of the band's second album, Nevermind, released in September 1991.

The song was re-released on the band's compilation album Incesticide in December, 1992, and was released to radio to promote the album, charting at number 19 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart in early 1993. The "Sliver" single re-charted at number 77 on the UK Singles Chart in December 1992, due to the release of Incesticide.

The Incesticide version omits a phone conversation between a hungover and confused-sounding Novoselic and Sup Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman that appears at the end of the song in the single. The exchange, which ends with Novoselic advising Poneman to call back later that day, was accidentally recorded on Novoselic's answering machine.[13]

Reviewing the single in a 1990 issue of Melody Maker, Everett True wrote, "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."[14]

In 2011, NME ranked the song at number nine on their list of the 10 best Nirvana songs.[15] In 2015, Rolling Stone placed the song at number three on their ranking of 102 Nirvana songs.[16]

Music video[edit]

A music video was made for the song in March 1993 to promote Incesticide, although the album had been released several months earlier. The video was directed by Kevin Kerslake, who had also directed the videos for the band's three previous singles, "Come As You Are," "Lithium" and "In Bloom." The video starts with Cobain's infant daughter Frances Bean Cobain dancing to the song's bassline, held by Kurt from behind while his arms were sticking out of two holes he cut through a piece of cardboard, then switches to the band performing the song in Cobain's garage.[17] The video shows Dave Grohl on drums, although he does not appear on the track. Cobain does not play guitar in the video, only singing into a microphone while wearing a red and black striped sweater his wife, Courtney Love, had bought for him from a fan after a Nirvana show in Belfast, Northern Ireland.[18] Cobain's garage itself had been decorated with toys, posters and artifacts he had collected over several years, and kept in storage since before Nevermind was recorded in May 1991.[19] Among the items featured in the video is a Chim-Chim toy which had been given to Cobain by the Japanese rock band Shonen Knife as a present.[20]

The video was accepted by MTV in May, but frames featuring the logos of the magazines Maximumrockandroll and Better Homes and Gardens had to be removed due to the network's rules on product placement.[21]

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]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1991–93) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[22] 23
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[23]
Original 1991 peak
90
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[23]
1992 re-entry: only Top 75 archived by OCC for week of 5 Dec 1992[24]
77
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[25] 19

Recording and release history[edit]

Although only recorded in the studio once, several lives versions and one demo version of "Sliver" have been officially released.

Demo and studio versions[edit]

Date recorded Studio Producer/recorder Releases Personnel
1990 Cobain residence, Olympia, WA Kurt Cobain With the Lights Out (2004)
Sliver: The Best of the Box (2005)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
July 11 and 24, 1990 Reciprocal Recording, Seattle, WA Jack Endino Sliver (1990)
Incesticide (1992)
Nirvana (2002)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dan Peters - drums

Live versions[edit]

Date recorded Venue Releases Personnel
October 31, 1991 Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA Live at the Paramount (2011)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums, backing vocals
November 25, 1991 Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! (1994/ 2006)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums, backing vocals
December 28, 1991 Del Mar Fairgrounds, Los Angeles, California In Bloom (1992)
Nevermind (deluxe) (2011)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums, backing vocals
August 30, 1992 Reading Festival, Reading, England Live at Reading (2009)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums, backing vocals
November 10, 1993 Springfield Civic Center, Springfield, Massachusetts From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (1996)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums, backing vocals
  • Pat Smear - guitar
December 13, 1993 Pier 48, Seattle Live and Loud (2013)
  • Kurt Cobain - vocals, guitar
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums, backing vocals
  • Pat Smear - guitar

Cover versions[edit]

Year Artist Album
2007 Asylum Street Spankers Mommy Says No!
2010 Caspar Babypants This is Fun!
2011 Little Roy Battle for Seattle
2012 The Gaslight Anthem Handwritten
2013 Rise Against Long Forgotten Songs

Personnel[edit]


References[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Nirvana - Uncensored On the Record. Coda Books Ltd. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-78158-005-9. Retrieved 28 August 2017. line feed character in |title= at position 29 (help)
  2. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  3. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  4. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 142. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  5. ^ True, Everett (2007). Nirvana: The Biography. Da Capo Press. p. 197. ISBN 0306815540.
  6. ^ Jovanovic, Rob (2004). Nirvana: The Recording Sessions. S A F Pub Ltd. p. 54. ISBN 0946719608.
  7. ^ Jovanovic, Rob (2004). Nirvana: The Recording Sessions. S A F Pub Ltd. p. 55. ISBN 0946719608.
  8. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145, 146. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  9. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  10. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  11. ^ Jovanovic, Rob (2004). Nirvana: The Recording Sessions. S A F Pub Ltd. p. 54. ISBN 0946719608.
  12. ^ a b >Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  13. ^ Gillian G. Gaar (2009). The Rough Guide to Nirvana. Rough Guides.
  14. ^ True, Everett (2007). Nirvana: The Biography. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81554-6. p. 203.
  15. ^ Elan, Priya (September 7, 2011). "Nirvana – Their 10 Best Tracks". NME. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  16. ^ Wolk, Douglas (April 9, 2015). "No Apologies: All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  17. ^ Gillian G. Gaar (2009). The Rough Guide to Nirvana. Rough Guides.
  18. ^ Gillian G. Gaar (2009). The Rough Guide to Nirvana. Rough Guides.
  19. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  20. ^ Cross, Charles. Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-8402-9. p.233
  21. ^ Azerrad, Michael (1994). Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday. p. 145. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
  22. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Sliver". Irish Singles Chart.
  23. ^ a b "Nirvana: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  24. ^ UK Singles Chart 29 November 1992 - 05 December 1992
  25. ^ "Nirvana Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.

External links[edit]