respect the classics

Courtney Love Shares Scrapped Nirvana Lyrics That ‘Would Have Helped My Life’

Kurt Cobain. Photo: Michel Linssen/Redferns

Twenty-nine years after Kurt Cobain’s death, there’s still much to learn about the enigmatic Nirvana leader — and few know better than his widow, Courtney Love. On the latest episode of the podcast 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s (the 91st — explain that!), Love broke down “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and a whole bunch of ’90s-rock history with host Rob Harvilla. She also came armed with draft lyrics to the song, some of which have never been published. Love read the lyrics on the podcast, getting a kick out of some (she chuckled at “Take off your clothes, I’ll see you in court”) and wondering what could have been with the band’s hit. “How much different would it have been if the opening lyric had literally been ‘Come out and play’?” she wondered aloud — instead of “Load up on guns,” which some read into after Cobain’s suicide. Love was also struck by the drafted lines, “Who will be the king and queen / Of all the outcasted teens?” “That would have helped my life a little bit better, taking on so much of the shit that me and my daughter have,” she said.

After Love sang the new lyrics, Harvilla asked, “Is that a different song to you?” She emphatically replied, “No, this is ‘Teen Spirit’!” (But she also admitted earlier in the podcast that she thought “In Bloom” would’ve been a better lead single on Nevermind.) Here’s the first set of “Teen Spirit” lyrics that Love recited:

Come out and play, make up the rules

I know, I hope to buy the truth

Who will be the king and queen

Of all the outcasted teens?

We’re so lazy and so stupid

Blame our parents and the cupids

A deposit for a bottle

Stick it inside, no role model

Come out and play, make up the rules

Have lots of fun, we know we’ll lose

Our little group has always been

And always will until the end

From there, it’s a bit unclear which parts go together and which don’t, but here are some more of the verse and chorus drafts she shared:

Something I’ve bought

And don’t deserve

To know, ‘oh no’

Are dirty words

Load up on guns and bring your friends

I know, I know, it’s wrong to offend

Take off your clothes, I’ll see you in court

[Crossed out words], abort

We merge ahead, this special day

Giving amnesty to sacrilege

A denial, and from strangers

A revival, and from favors

Here we are now, we’re so famous

Here we are now, entertain us

We’re so lazy, and so stupid

And from Vegas

Here we are now, entertain us

I’ll take a slide, I’ll be over here

A sustain of pride from a boring stare

Good humor them, a relaxing dose

To have a child is a selfish roast

“Whoa, okay,” Love said after the final line, with a nervous laugh. “Okay, Kurt. Wow. Never even seen this shit.” As if, of course, any of us have.

Courtney Love Shares Unpublished Nirvana Lyrics