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"About a Girl" is a song by the Americanmarker grunge band Nirvana. It is the third song on the group's debut album, Bleach (1989). It is also the first song on the posthumous MTV Unplugged in New York album from which it was a single in 1994.

History

According to the 1993 Nirvana biography Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana by Michael Azerrad, "About a Girl" was written after Cobain spent an entire afternoon listening to Meet The Beatles! repeatedly. At the time, Cobain was trying to conceal his pop songwriting instincts, and he was reluctant to include the song on Bleach for fear of alienating the band's then-exclusively grunge fan base. "To put a jangly, R.E.M. type of pop song on a grunge record, in that scene, was risky," he admitted in a 1993 Rolling Stone interview.

However, the producer of Bleach, Jack Endino, was excited about the song, and even saw it as a potential single. Years later, Butch Vig, who produced Nirvana's 1991 breakthrough album Nevermind, would cite "About a Girl" as the first hint that there was more to Nirvana than grunge. "Everyone talks about Kurt's love affair with... the whole punk scene, but he was also a huge Beatles fan, and the more time we spent together the more obvious their influence on his songwriting became," Vig told the NME in 2004.

"About a Girl" was recorded for Bleach in December 1988 by Endino in Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker. It remained one of the few songs from Bleach which Nirvana continued to perform live until Cobain's death in April 1994. The acoustic MTV Unplugged rendition, recorded in 1993 and released posthumously on MTV Unplugged in New York in 1994, is perhaps the most familiar reading of the song. The live recording of "About a Girl" also appears as a playable song in the video game Guitar Hero World Tour. The studio version appears as downloadable content for Rock Band series.

Meaning

According to Chad Channing, Nirvana's drummer around the time of Bleach, Cobain didn't have a title for the song when he first brought it into the studio. When asked what it was about, Cobain replied, "It's about a girl."

The girl in question was Tracy Marander, Cobain's then-girlfriend, with whom he lived at the time. Apparently, Marander had asked Cobain why he had never written a song for her, and Cobain responded with "About a Girl". The song addresses the couple's fractured relationship, caused by Cobain's refusal to get a job, or to share cleaning duties at their apartment (which housed many of his pets). During arguments on the subject, Cobain would occasionally threaten to move into his car, at which point Marander would usually relent.

Cobain never told Marander that he had written "About a Girl" for her. In the 1998 Nick Broomfield documentary Kurt and Courtney, Marander revealed that she only found out after reading Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana.

Other versions

A live version of "About a Girl," recorded in 1990, appears as a B-side on the band's 1990 "Sliver" non-album single. Cobain later expressed embarrassment towards the inclusion of this particular live version by calling it "ragged" in "the most unappealing way". The single for "Sliver" was a part of Nirvana's buyout deal while jumping ship from its indie Sub Pop label to the big-label major David Geffen Company.

Another live electric version, recorded in 1991, appears on the 1994 home video, Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!. An additional live version (from Nirvana's show at the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam on November 25, 1991) appears on the 2006 DVD re-release of Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!.

A solo demo version appears on the 2004 Nirvana box set, With the Lights Out, and on the 2005 compilation album, Sliver: The Best of the Box. The “Bleach” version was re-released in 2002 on the band's "best-of" compilation, Nirvana.

Single

A live acoustic version of "About a Girl" was MTV Unplugged in New York's only commercial single and reached number one on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart in late 1994. Five thousand numbered limited edition copies were sold in Australia, an additional 200 copies were unnumbered for promotional use. A standard single was also sold in countries across Europe. The following songs appear on the single:
  1. "About a Girl" (Cobain)
  2. "Something in the Way" (Cobain)


Chart positions

Singles charts

Chart (1994) Position
Australian Singles Chart 4
Dutch Singles Chart 22
French Singles Chart 23
Sweden Singles Chart 20


Airplay charts

Chart (1992) Position
Polish Airplay Chart 3
Chart (1993) Position
French Airplay Chart 9
Chart (1994) Position
Canadian National Airplay Chart 9
Finland Mitä hittiä Chart 7
Triple J Hottest 100 (Australia) 7
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 1
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream 29
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay (U.S.) 22


Accolades

  • Ranked #2 in NME's "Top 20 Nirvana Songs" (2004)
  • Ranked #2 in Q's "10 Greatest Nirvana Songs Ever" (2004)
  • Ranked #1 in Q's "The 100 Greatest Singers and their 1000 Greatest Songs" (2007) in which Kurt was ranked as the 7th greatest singer


Covers

"About a Girl" has been covered by trip-hop band Cibo Matto.

According to the official Foo Fighters web site, former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl covered "About a Girl" during a studio session with music producer Barrett Jones . The recording has yet to surface.

Puddle of Mudd also has covered "About a Girl."

Brazilian singer-songwriter Cibelle released an EP named "About a Girl" with a cover of the track.

The first EP of the Italian band VerdeIride contains an acoustic version of the song.

References



Notes


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