Courtney Love Reveals Early Lyrics For “Smells Like Teen Spirit” On 60 Songs That Explain The ’90s Podcast

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Courtney Love Reveals Early Lyrics For “Smells Like Teen Spirit” On 60 Songs That Explain The ’90s Podcast

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

For my money, the best music podcast currently going is 60 Songs That Explain The ’90s, the memory-fog extravaganza from my old friend and former boss Rob Harvilla. The show’s format is pretty simple. Rob goes long about a particular song, illustrating both that song’s cultural context and his own personal history with it, which usually involves embarrassing teenage stuff. Then, he brings on a guest to talk about the song’s impact. Usually, that guest is a minor celebrity or a critic — someone like me. (I was on the “Ice Ice Baby” episode.) But when Rob’s show came back from a short hiatus this week — he’s now gone way beyond 60 songs — he finally got to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and his guest was one Courtney Love.

Courtney Love had been listening to Rob’s podcast, and she appreciated what Rob had to say about Hole’s “Doll Parts.” So she jumped on the phone for a long, wide-ranging discussion with Rob, talking about her late husband and his most totemic song, which might also be the most totemic song. She also talked about buying Cobain a Leonard Cohen lyric book, telling him to step his lyrical game up. She talked about the origins from Cobain’s beef with Eddie Vedder — Cobain was mad that Vedder spoke to a Time reporter after they’d agreed on a “media blackout — and said that she “wasn’t allowed” to listen to “Jeremy” when she was pregnant. She talked about heroin and guns and riot grrl and Melvins and walking across Chicago to see Nirvana at the Metro after Billy Corgan’s girlfriend kicked her out of the house. It’s not the most linear conversation, but it’s fascinating.

In the newsworthiest bit of conversation there, Courtney brought out some of Cobain’s unused “Smells Like Teen Spirit” lyrics — some of them published in his journals, some not. She asked if Rob Harvilla had a guitar or a karaoke machine handy so that she could properly sing those lyrics, and Rob found that request to be very funny. Then, she went ahead and sang those lyrics a cappella. Here they are, via the Line Of Best Fit:

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

Another version:

We merge ahead, this special day
This 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

Alternate-reality shit! Listen to the episode below.

Rob Harvilla also just announced his forthcoming book Songs That Explain The ’90s, and you can pre-order it here.

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