Quick Study of the Song D7 and Rare Nirvana Set-list Or…?

Posted: April 5, 2013 in Nirvana News

I admit this is a rapid fire post simply recording something I did out of curiosity over an item appearing on a thread at LiveNirvana (with all credit and kudos to LiveNirvana and specifically to Mike Jenkins for spotting this.) Now, this item is on sale on eBay:

Set-List_Maybe

The item has, according to the seller, been seen and signed by Krist Novoselic, and seen by Chad Channing — the two individuals suggested it was a set-list from an ‘older show’ or from 1991-1992 given it features Smells Like Teen Spirit. It also, intriguingly, features the word Bonefire/Bona fide and what looks at first glance like Ah but, I suspect, is a reference to About a Girl. Certainly there’s a chunk of the page missing, there should be a further half dozen or so songs given the averages Nirvana were playing at that point. You’ll note the asking price.

Well, it seemed a fairly easy item to check against the Nirvana Live Guide so I had a go; D7 isn’t exactly a hard song to find given there are only 22 known appearances for that song commencing with Dave Grohl’s first show on October 11, 1990 and concluding with the wreckage that was January 16, 1993 at the Hollywood Rock Festival in Sao Paolo. Even better, only two of those set-lists aren’t fully known and complete. I simply wanted to know whether it was clear when this show took place?

So, eliminate the eight known shows at which D7 was performed in 1990; Smells Like Teen Spirit didn’t appear until the spring of 1991. Problem is, there are only three of the remaining known shows at which Aneurysm was the first song, two of those are the incomplete set-lists from October 3-4, 1992 and neither features Smells Like Teen Spirit. This leaves one show at which Aneurysm was the opener, and where D7 and Smells Like Teen Spirit definitely appeared; January 31, 1992…But the song order doesn’t match.

OK, could it be a set-list from another show and the band spontaneously altered the song order? That can be checked easily enough:

D7 Missing

OK, so long as we accept Nirvana were playing songs out of the order displayed on the set-list, then there are five candidate shows stretching from late September 1991 to September 1992 at which all the songs did feature – so it IS possible. It certainly supports the document’s authenticity given it’s such a specific selection accompanying the handwriting, the nature of the document, etc.

Could the set-list, therefore, be showing us what Nirvana played at one of the missing shows during that time period? Possible, there are fourteen missing/incomplete shows within that time period September-to-September. Anyway of pinning it down? Alas, nothing precise. The duo of Aneurysm/School does occur in late 1991, roughly from start of November until end of year but more usually with Drain You, in particular, or another song introducing the set or in between those two songs. Blew meanwhile isn’t ever a feature of the opening half of a set except for April-June 1991 or a spell in February 1992. Only twice in the whole of 1991-1992 are Love Buzz and Breed played together as a pair (November 1991)…But in the opposite order. Similarly, Sliver/About a Girl are played as a pairing twice in June 1991 (but in the opposite order) and three times in February 1992 — heck, with all these twisted orders I did examine if I was reading the set-list the wrong way round, that maybe it was meant to be read bottom-to-top…Nah, Aneurysm and School are solid early set songs. There’s essentially no comparable set-list featuring all the units (duos/trios) of songs in the orders shown on that sheet and though there are quite a few shows with almost all those songs, they’re missing D7.

So. In essence, your guess is as good as mine. What you’re looking at is a set-list that conforms to no known set, that does feature a reasonable selection from 1991-1992 but not visibly comparable to any existing habits or phases of Nirvana’s set-list development. That would mean it’s one of the rare set-lists where Nirvana tossed the rulebook out the window. So, it’s a real rarity or…

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Comments
  1. Erik Berry says:

    When my band does set lists, we sometimes put rarer songs on them and then when the time comes we just skip or swap them. I don’t know how Nirvana felt about D-7 but I’d think the rare song would be the first to get dropped in the spur of the moment.

  2. nsoulsby says:

    There’s a good couple of revealing items around D7, firstly that it was introduced in Dave Grohl’s first show seems to suggest the band hunting for tracks that they all know so they can flesh out the set-list while he’s learning up. On the other hand, there’s the “Nirvana Plays Songs of…” illustration in the Journals which can’t be pegged to either before or after the BBC radio sessions during which Nirvana played all covers so it’s unclear if its a statement of intent or a post-facto sense of pride.

    Its one of those songs that barely makes it into set lists so you’re quite correct in your appraisal. Phew! Nice to see a perspective drawn from reality, my views are all theoretical gibberish.

  3. A. A. Wiesen says:

    This is 100% authentic. Grohl, Novoselic, Smear, Burkhart, Channing have all seen this and said so. You can compare this to the 3 or 4 other set lists we have in Cobain’s hand and it matches perfectly. Earnie Bailey has said they played the songs out of order all the time. If you look at the top of the sheet it says “Set 1,” which means there is at least one other page. Nirvana sometimes taped them together, we have one setlist where he have seen that, this one looks to be in the same vein. There is no question this is authentic.

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