Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Listening to Nirvana With a Two-Year-Old

Thomas Beller for the New Yorker (via Jason Kottke):

Listening to the song with my son, I noticed an abandon that was childish in its total commitment. You can hear it in the force with which Grohl hits the drums, in Krist Novoselic’s playing, and, most of all, in the release in Cobain’s voice, which is a somewhere between a wail of despair and a delighted squandering of the moment.

Everything was going along fine in our living room until the song got to the break—the low, murky part—at which point Alexander called out to me, “Daddy! It’s scary!”

Nirvana’s music, in its anguish and energy, is scary. “Nevermind” is scary. But the break in “Drain You” is especially scary. I either had to turn it off or find a way to make this work. I didn’t want to turn it off.

I remember the first time I heard “Drain You”: it wasn’t on Nevermind, but rather the still-totally-killer version from MTV’s “Live and Loud” that I downloaded via some shitty P2P application (in fact, I’m pretty sure the linked copy is exactly the same rip I downloaded). While I prefer In Utero over Nevermind any day, “Drain You” remains one of my all-time favourite songs because of the breakdown Beller references.

On a related note, a YouTuber compiled what they consider to be Kurt Cobain’s top five “Drain You” screams, which I completely agree with. Also, Eagle Rock Entertainment produced a Nevermind edition of their Classic Albums series which features an excellent deconstruction of “Drain You” from producer Butch Vig.