This month’s Q features a story on “The Nevermind Era,” which is defined by a scientifically precise timeline, beginning 10/29/90 (“Dave Grohl settles in”) and ending 8/30/92 (“The Reading Festival,” Nirvana’s final UK concert). The article on this Anglo-centric 672 days of influence has behind the scenes anecdotes documenting the highs and the lows; it also has this list of songs “that inspired Kurt Cobain,” which the mag’s staff put together based on Cobain quotes and their editorial expertise. Here it is, with a recap of their reasoning for inclusion.

01. “Kool Thing” – Sonic Youth
Q included this because “the alternative rock heroes were instrumental in getting Nirvana signed by Geffen.”

02. “Debaser” – Pixies
As Cobain said, he “was basically trying to rip off the Pixies.”

03. “More Than A Feeling” – Boston
They’re thinking that “Smells Like Teen Spirit”’s opening bore a “strong resemblance” to this cut.

04. “Seasons In The Sun” – Terry Jacks
The first record Kurt ever bought.

05. “My Sharona” – The Knack
In Kurt’s band bio, he wrote that Nirvana sounded like “Black Sabbath playing The Knack.”

06. “Rise Above” – Black Flag
Q traces Kurt’s lyrical sense to this punk staple.

07. “Sweet Emotion” – Aerosmith
Kurt and Krist put out a band ad listing Led Zep and Aerosmith as key influences.

08. “Chord Organ Blues” – Daniel Johnston
We all know how much Kurt loved his Daniel tee.

09. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” – Leadbelly
Covered during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged appearance.

10. “I Saw Her Standing There” – The Beatles
From Meet The Beatles!, which made it into Kurt’s posthumously published Top 50 albums list.

11. “Lizzy” – Melvins
Kurt auditioned for a slot with the Melvins, but had a bout of the nerves and “fogot all the songs.”

12. “Lake Of Fire” – Meat Puppets
Included ’cause the band joined Nirvana for three songs at the Unplugged performance.

13. “The Revenge Of Anus Presley” – Butthole Surfers
Q says that the Surfers’ “outrageous lyrics appealed to Cobain’s often puerile sense of humour.”

14. “Search And Destroy – Iggy And The Stooges
Said Kurt: “Iggy Pop was my total idol.”

15. “Back In Black” – AC/DC
First riff 14-year-old Kurt ever learned!

16. “Black Sabbath” – Black Sabbath
Noted as a key influence on Bleach. Also noted for having inventing heavy metal.

17. “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Teeneaged Kurt and Krist once had a CCR tribute band called Sellout. Awwww.

18. “Anarchy In The UK” – Sex Pistols
Included for the thought that “A denial!” was a Gen X update of “Get pissed! Destroy!”

19. “Son Of A Gun” – The Vaselines
Nirvana covered three Vaselines songs in its day.

20. “My My Hey Hey (Into The Black)” – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Kurt’s suicide note quoted Young: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

Some of these cuts were included for well-founded anecdotal reasons — and some were just Q talking out their collective ass. Still, it’s a fun exercise: What songs do you hear reflected in Nirvana’s catalogue? If you’re really savvy, you’ll point out the analagous Nirvana track, right down to the section in question. Go!

Comments (69)
  1. Nirvanas over exposer will always cast a shawdow over the great music that jurt made and here we are doing it again its kinda to late so i am not made just a bored nirvana fan

  2. Killing Joke-Eighties

  3. No Vaselines, how retarded. HOW retarded.

  4. JF  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    Please, PLEASE, no more lists …

  5. ever since that Taco Bell commercial a few years ago where they used to Knack with the lyrics “my chalupa” i can’t listen to that song and feel the same.

    so now i have a mental image of Nirvana and Taco Bell. thanks to my retarded brain.

  6. Yeah, the Vaselines are really sorely missing. They should be right at number 19, in fact. They will be missed … at number 19.

  7. Dayne  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    I think I recall reading at one time that Kurt was also influenced and loved the all female band, The Raincoats.

  8. Any list of what Kurt Cobain listened to that doesn’t include Husker Du is just lying to itself.

  9. Skatelip  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    Spencer – very funny indeed. You beat me to the punch.

    I concur that these lists are getting stale. I specifically find Q to be incredibly insipid. Sure, they get some of the names on the list right but the trite reasons are as shallow as baby’s bathwater.

  10. Chris  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    I would think that Q would’ve picked an Aerosmith song off of “Rocks”, since in any Nirvan interview I’ve read where A-Smith is mentioned, thats the one album he seems to always name. He even said he wanted the drums on “In Utero” to sound like they do on “Rocks”

  11. James  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    “Sliver” is obviously influenced by the K records scene, and Beat Happening in particular. Plus, I’d rather see Half Japanese (who Nirvana invited on the In Utero tour) than AC/DC on this list. And where are Devo, the Wipers, Young Marble Giants, R.E.M., and Scratch Acid?

  12. Mp  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    I love Stereogum, but I like to hear about new bands. Introduce us to some new exciting talent again! Lists are getting to be an everyday thing. :(

  13. Where are Fang, The Wipers, The Shaggs, and Flipper?? It would be really sad if they were left off of this list… but somehow Boston made it? …Kinda silly.

  14. Larry  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 +1

    Who cares what Kurt Cobain listened to? Why does everyone treat him like a Rock N Roll Messiah? He was depressed, screamed a lot about it, made money and shot himself. Move on!!

  15. Natt I. Cus  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    I’d throw Cheap Trick in.

  16. They missed these:

    “Heroin” – Velvet Underground

    “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” – Beastie Boys

  17. Actually the main riff from “Eighties” (the one which bears more than a passing resemblance to the one used in “Come As You Are”) was used 3 years earlier by The Damned on “Life Goes On.

  18. tjxm  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    Michael Bolton

  19. They missed Stone Temple Pilots

  20. What about me, David Bowie, i am the man who sold the world after all!

  21. pete wentz  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    fall out boy.

  22. The Vaselines are on there. So what’s the problem?

  23. they should’ve just made the list out of songs nirvana covered over its career.

    d-7 – the wipers
    here she comes now – velvet underground
    my best friend’s girl – the cars
    my sharona – the knack
    where did you sleep last night – leadbelly
    the man who sold the world – david bowie
    immigrant song – led zeppelin
    love buzz – blue cheer
    i wanna be your dog – iggy & the stooges
    bad moon rising – creedence clearwater revival
    molly’s lips/son of a gun – vaselines
    seasons in the sun – terry jacks
    turnaround – devo

  24. they should’ve just made the list out of songs nirvana covered over its career.

    d-7 – the wipers
    here she comes now – velvet underground
    my best friend’s girl – the cars
    my sharona – the knack
    where did you sleep last night – leadbelly
    the man who sold the world – david bowie
    immigrant song – led zeppelin
    love buzz – blue cheer
    i wanna be your dog – iggy & the stooges
    bad moon rising – creedence clearwater revival
    molly’s lips/son of a gun – vaselines
    seasons in the sun – terry jacks
    turnaround – devo
    do you love me? – kiss

  25. El Payo  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    It’s better to burn out than it is to rust.

  26. adam  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    I love random lists as much as the next music geek, but considering that Kurt Cobain did nothing but make lists of his favorite bands all the time, this particular list seems not only completely unnecessary, but also just glaringly uninformed.

    I’m not even that big of a Nirvana fan, but all you have to do is just flip through the pages of his journals while browsing the music section at any bookstore in the world, and you’d have your article. I get that maybe the intentions of this particular list may have been a little more far reaching, but (as mentioned before) neglecting to mention the Wipers, the Raincoats, or the Germs (in favor of Aerosmith?! Sex Pistols?!) is clearly a case of a writer that is either too young or too old to be writing about rock n roll.

    PS – Love Buzz is actually a Shocking Blue song.

  27. kyle  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    nirvana is overexposed. this list sucks but not in a funny or outrageous way that makes me want to go read the whole thing. talk more about cmj or something new please kthnx.

  28. jimba  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    “suicide note” ?

    The only part of the note that mentions suicide is the bottom that handwriting experts have confirmed was not written by Cobain. Whether he was murdered or killed himself is something that has not been proven.

    see here –>

  29. Yo  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    Kurt ripped off the Pixies, so bad he probably shot himself over the plagiarism guilt. It’s a fun exercise to listen to the Pixies catalog and play the “oh Kurt stole that riff” game.

    Black Francis forever!

  30. Daniel F.  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    Well they left off the Red Hot Chili Peppers as well…
    Kurt Cobain and Anthony Kiedis (lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) were very good friends and Cobain was heavily inspired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Nirvana also toured with the RHCP before Nirvana was well-known.

  31. Chris  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    …the article also fails to mention how so many Nirvana songs were simply Flipper riffs slowed down…

  32. clifford  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    Why not “Teenage Riot” by Sonic Youth?

  33. No Buzzcocks? Mudhoney? Lame.

  34. Hey screw Cobain ok!! There are much better singers/composers/acoustic-guitar-heroes in the world these the a-wesome k-fed or maybe Britney spears

  35. crilo in p-gro  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    The Wipers o’course shoulda been on there. And I’ve never heard any Boston in “Teen Spirit”, just the Pixies riffing on Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”.

  36. People have mentioned THE WIPERS, but not any particular song that influenced NIRVANA.
    Here’s one: “POTENTIAL SUICIDE.”
    Which NIRVANA song did it influence? “BREED.”

  37. sslim  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 0

    I don’t know how Q Magazine postions it, but the Boston thing is not new. Some musicologist back in the 92 or 93 wrote about how Smells Like Teen Spirit rips More Than A Feeling and it ws a funny news item/debate. Anyway…

  38. bp  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2006 +1

    Well, considering that Kurt said Joy Divisions’ “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was the greatest song ever recorded, it would seem rather strange to not be on the list.

  39. Jess  |   Posted on Dec 6th, 2006 0

    Am I the only one who remembers that Kurt played guitar on Mark Lanegan’s cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on Lanegan’s solo album ‘Winding Sheet’ in 1990? Cobain first heard it from Lanegan. You can hear both influences on the live version… just to get my Lanegan-Cobain freakout out there.

  40. Dirk  |   Posted on Dec 6th, 2006 0

    Search And Destroky

    must be the Rusky version. never heard that one before ;)

  41. Neil Young had to be there somewhere thats for sure

  42. pat tap  |   Posted on Dec 6th, 2006 0

    eeh 0=a-xe0 — an ol roommate of mine let me barrow the book “perfume” (i hear its gone hollywood) but anyway read the book its great. i was told it influenced
    “scentless apprentice”. and yeah i think it probably sturred some creative cobain juices —

    *hey roach let me know if you want perfume back, i am done it!

  43. pedro  |   Posted on Dec 8th, 2006 0

    ever heard of the song godzilla by the blue oyster cult? listen to the beginning, and then listten to the beginning of teen spirit

  44. I always thought that “The Groundhogs” had a great influence on Cobain, but to be honest, I have yet to find a quote on that… IMHO, when you hear them you are kinda reminded of Nirvana’s style and, thinking that you’re listening to a late 60′s/early 70′s band, you may get the idea that it’s one of the influence sources … Especially on “Thank Christ for the Bomb” and “Split”

  45. Mark  |   Posted on Dec 11th, 2006 0

    You guy’s are all retarted…including the guy who made this list. You dont know Kurt Cobain, So you shouldn’t be makeing lists about him. Kurt Hates you all and so do I.

  46. Matt  |   Posted on Dec 12th, 2006 0

    You know what I love to do? Troll Nirvana’s YouTube videos’ comments and try to not puke in your mouth. Do it. Bet you can’t.

  47. kristin  |   Posted on Dec 16th, 2006 0

    k so i was reading some comments and a lot of you guys are retarted. Nirvana is amazing..get ur story right before you talk about them. k thankss.

  48. Johnny  |   Posted on Jan 2nd, 2007 0

    This list isn’t needed. It’s too sloppy and confusing. Obviously Kurt had lots of influences…just like every other artist out there, you can’t really say what band or song influenced him the most. Only he knows…and he’s dead.

  49. heinze  |   Posted on Jan 31st, 2007 0

    I think he also influenced by the legendary bluesman Leadbelly’s songs i.e they hung him on a cross, where did you sleep last night…

  50. jacks total lack of concern  |   Posted on Mar 17th, 2007 0

    birds…scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us about the truth…but sadly we dont speak bird. and its not important what influenced Kurt, its his own interpretation of it all. Anything could have inspired cobain. He was just simply creative…

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