Courtney Love Reveals Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ Unpublished Alternate Lyrics
You know the words by heart. Just the strum of the opening chords and drumbeats of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" has you singing along. But did you realize that there are actually alternate lyrics for the song that became the staple of the grunge generation? Courtney Love revealed some of those lyrics during a recent appearance on the 60 Songs That Explains the '90s podcast with Rob Harvilla (as heard below).
“Some of these were in these journals, and some of them are unpublished,” she explained Love as she shared the alternate lyric insight with the host. She then recited some of the lyrics, which went as follows: “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”
Noting that the chorus then kicks in, she continued, “We’re so lazy / and so stupid / blame our parents / and the cupids / a deposit, for a bottle / stick it inside / no role model.“
Love then served up a second draft of lyrics that read: “We merge ahead this special day / this day giving amnesty to sacrilege” and “A denial / and from strangers / a revival / and from favours / here we are now / we’re so famous / here we are now / entertain us.”
Upon the revelation, the host noted that only about five of the lines ended up making the final version, which is what we hear today. Love explained that it was "a different song" than the demo, adding, “The only consistencies that it retains are ‘load up on guns and bring your friends' and ‘little group has always been and always will until the end.' That’s it.”
The singer then added that she wished Cobain had kept the line, “Who will be the king and queen / of all the outcasted teens," feeling that it would have helped the public perception of herself and her daughter, while noting, "[It would have] helped my life a little bit better, taking on the shit that me and my daughter have."
Now that you know of the alternate lyrics, can you hear it? Would they have fit as well within the song?
As it turned out, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" fared pretty well for Nirvana. Released in September 1991, the track is largely credited with the arrival of grunge music on mainstream rock stations, opening the door for others within the genre and raising the profile of alternative rock music in general in the early '90s. The song topped the Alternative Airplay chart, crossed over to hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the corresponding video became one of MTV's most played clips for the year. It's also been certified as a platinum single in the U.S. and served as the launching point for Nirvana's hugely successful Nevermind album.