Thank you to Brutus the Barber for pointing out the absence of MV and I Hate Myself and I Want to Die from the list of officially released, but never performed live, Nirvana songs. Amendments duly made. Today I’m just looking at the data another way, I was curious whether certain songs were played irregularly but persisted across a substantial number of months, and/or whether certain songs were resurrected after substantial gaps.
The month-by-month list reiterates and reinforces the lack of attention given to, primarily, songs that Nirvana deemed either b-sides only or not ready for release at all. The focused nature of Nirvana’s live trialling of songs is also a notable point — they would work a song deeply over a short period of time then haul it out of public sight to either work on it and fashion it into something worthwhile or never to be seen again.
There are twelve songs on the list that either emerged on a single or compilation during Nirvana’s lifetime or didn’t come out until the With the Lights Out box-set; of those twelve songs only one can be shown being played in more than three months.
Now, it’s clear, given the majority of those songs belong to the early days of Nirvana, that we’re missing significant numbers of the set-lists that would reveal further cases when they were played — we only know complete set lists for two of six shows in 1987, five of 24 for 1988, 43 of 82 in 1989 with almost nothing for the first six months of the year. For some of these songs, however, I wouldn’t expect the pattern to change significantly:
Strangely, it’s songs like Tourette’s where their throw-away nature is really clear; the majority of post-1991 set-lists are known but that song barely appears with few further opportunities for it to do so; the other In Utero era songs feature due to the curtailed nature of Nirvana’s touring in 1993-1994 but Tourette’s simply doesn’t seem to have been popular enough to bother with.