Around May I started working on a spreadsheet showing each month in which a Nirvana song appeared. Understandably other priorities (i.e., writing, re-writing, re-re-writing Dark Slivers) took over and it was unlikely I was ever going to finish.
…Until that is my friend, Mr. Shrikant Kabule, took a shot at it. My absolute gratitude to Shrikant for his hard work on this! I was thrilled to see it! He focused on one objective – showing when Nirvana played a new song or cover:
As you might be able to tell, we’re going to have to take it piece by piece, but what I wanted to focus on today was the overall pattern; essentially Nirvana played a new original, or a new cover song (or slice thereof) almost every month during which they performed live throughout their entire career for which a set-list, or part thereof, exists.
Using the stats at the Nirvana Live Guide (check it! It’s brilliant – thanks to Kris and Mike) its amazing to see how many of Nirvana’s setlists are known in full (241 of 369 shows):
The gaps in the record of the early years make it likely that covers and originals have been overlooked (see Dark Slivers chapter Songs The Lord Taught Us for discussion of Big Long Now) but the later years are heavily covered, particularly 1992 and 1994. This makes the trend stand out even more – up until 1992 there had only been two months (December 1988 and March 1991) in which no unheard material was performed. Suddenly in 1992 the band perform in seven months yet there are five months in which they play no new songs. In 1993 there’s at least a fresh flush of covers and originals but again, it tails off until, from December 1993 onward the covers of My Sharona and My Best Friend’s Girl are the only things they can come up with.