Something in the Way
|"Something in the Way"|
|Song by Nirvana from the album Nevermind|
|Released||September 24, 1991 (Nevermind)|
|Recorded||June 1991 at Sound City, Van Nuys and Devonshire, North Hollywood|
|Length||3:52 (20:37 with "Endless, Nameless")|
|Nevermind track listing|
"Something in the Way" is a song by American rock band Nirvana and written by its frontman Kurt Cobain. It is the final song on their 1991 studio album Nevermind (without counting the secret track included on most CD editions of the album, "Endless, Nameless").
Origins and composition
It was thought that "Something in the Way" was written during a time in which its author, singer Kurt Cobain, was homeless and allegedly slept underneath a bridge in his native town, Aberdeen, Washington. This myth, propagated by Cobain, was refuted in 2001 with the publication of his biography Heavier than Heaven, written by Charles Cross, who affirmed that if Cobain really had spent nights underneath the bridge mentioned in the song, he would have been in danger of being swept away by the tide of the Wishkah River. In fact, Cobain had passed his time sleeping at the houses of his friends, where he also left his possessions in cardboard boxes during daytime. He also allegedly slept in waiting rooms of hospitals in the town. However, Cobain did hang out at the bridge; In Michael Azzerad's book Come As You Are, Cobain stated he used to catch fish from the river, which may have inspired one of the song's lyrics 'its okay to eat fish, cos' they don't have any feelings'. In Heavier Than Heaven, both Krist Novoselic and Kim Cobain confirmed that whilst it was unlikely that Cobain slept there, it was a popular recreation area for local teenagers; which Cobain undoubtedly attended on occasion.
"Something in the Way" was written in 1990 by Cobain, and it was performed by him for the first time on November 25, 1990 at The Off Ramp Café in Seattle. In 2017, to mark what would have been Kurt Cobain's 50th birthday, the Phonographic Performance Limited released a list of the top twenty most played Nirvana songs on the TV and radio in the UK in which "Something in the Way" was ranked at number seventeen.
According to Nevermind's producer Butch Vig, Cobain had originally wanted to record "Something in the Way" with the full band, but when initial attempts at this proved unsuccessful, Cobain sat down and played the song for Vig by himself, to show him how he thought it should sound. Vig was impressed with the way Cobain's solo rendition sounded, and after having the air conditioner and all telephones turned off in the control room of the studio, proceeded to set up microphones and record the song the same way, with Cobain singing and playing guitar.
This became the core of the track; drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic added their parts later, though both had some difficulties with the relatively slow timing of the song. Novoselic also had trouble tuning his bass to Cobain's guitar (a rickety old 12-string Stella acoustic strung with 5 nylon guitar strings which barely stayed in tune) and Grohl was forced to repress his natural inclination to pound on the drums, in order to match the song's gentle mood. On the final day of the Nevermind sessions, Kirk Canning, a friend of the band's, came in and completed the song with a cello line, though he too had difficulties tuning to Cobain's guitar.
- A live version of the song, recorded in Osaka, Japan, on February 14, 1992, appears on the 1994 home video Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!, which was re-released on DVD in 2006.
- Another live version of the song appears on the 1994 MTV Unplugged in New York album and was used as a B-side for the "About a Girl" single from that album. This version of "Something in the Way" was re-released on vinyl and Japanese CD editions of the compilation album Nirvana in 2002.
- Another version of the song was recorded on November 8, 1991 for Mark Goodier at the BBC Radio 1 sessions, and appears on the deluxe version of the Nevermind album released in 2011.
- Tricky covered the song on his 2001 album Blowback.
- Alternative Country artist Shooter Jennings covered the song on his 2013 live album "The Other Live"
- The Swedish band Avatar covered the song on their 2014 album "Hail the Apocalypse".
Appearances in films and other media
- A comically (and intentionally) poor acoustic version of Something in the Way was performed by Jerry O'Connell (playing football star Frank Cushman) in the 1996 Cameron Crowe film, Jerry Maguire.
- The original Nirvana recording of the song from the Nevermind album was used in the films Jarhead and Twice Born.
- Song covered by band At Sea was used in The Last of Us Remastered video game trailer from 2014.
- Crisafulli, Chuck. (1996). Nirvana, The Stories Behind the Songs. pp. 54 – 55. ISBN 0-7119-5809-2.
- 20 most-played Nirvana songs revealed to mark Kurt Cobain’s 50th birthday planetrock.com. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
- St Thomas, Kurt and Smith, Troy. (2004). Nirvana, The Chosen Rejects. pp. 118. ISBN 0-312-20663-1.
- Jerry Maguire (1996) Trivia imdb.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Jarhead (2005) Soundtrack imdb.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Azerrad, Michael. Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, Doubleday, New York: 1993, ISBN 0-86369-746-1
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