Something in the Way in my Opinion – Plus Ukulele Teen Spirit…

Posted: November 13, 2013 in Analysing Nirvana Songs

To be very fair, this is far more listenable than one would expect – instrumentally the change in tone is pretty intriguing, the bridge into the chorus benefits from the clock-like approach of the multiple ukuleles and the harmonised vocals….Anyways, thought it’d lend something different to your day. Enjoy.

In other thoughts of the day, I find the process of creation intriguing. Inspiration isn’t ‘magic’, it isn’t necessarily so beyond exploration or regular human experience that threads of thinking can’t be identified. In the case of Mr. Cobain, there’s been a debate over on LiveNirvana the past couple days about a YouTube clip called ‘Excuse’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q45a0m0MZ_U), go read the thread, it’s entertaining and I don’t wish to repeat it.

What it’s reminded me of though is the level of ambition Cobain exhibited with regard to his vocal performances. Focusing purely on his acoustic efforts, there’s significant variety in the performances ranging from the wonderful double-tracking effect on Clean Up Before She Comes, to the gothic vocalising on Don’t Want it All, the narcotised story-telling/scene description on Polly accompanying the background effects and thudding ‘suitcase’ drums, the way each line peaks on Opinion prior to the humming chorus lines, the solemnity giving way to the beautiful chorus of Something in the Way…His willingness to test his own voice, to rarely settle for monotony across an entire song.

It isn’t a huge revelation but one element I’ve been musing on recently is the visible connections between songs performed at certain times of his career. Essentially if an idea or approach was on his mind there tended to be more than one song in a certain mode or utilising a certain style or technique. At its most direct there’s Cobain’s admission that Dumb was written as an extrapolation from Polly, the punchy pop of Been a Son and Stain – or the lyrical unities between certain songs like Been a Son, Stain and Even in his Youth all of which arose around the same era.

Which brings me to the slimmest glimmer of a connection. I simply wondered whether I should think of the humming in Opinion and Something in the Way, two songs that arose in the same spell of song-writing in summer-autumn 1990, as two examples of a single brief vocal experiment. All i’d be suggesting is that these two songs happened to fit a particular mode he worked with briefly in which ending the chorus line, the song’s title line, by humming was something he was toying with. It also impresses me that he would put so much into such a tiny element of a song – the low/high humming on Opinion or the double-tracked harmonies that conclude Something in the Way…Cobain may unfortunately have come to bear the mantle of the ‘slacker’ generation but there was nothing slack at all about how much work he clearly put into testing and experimenting with even the smallest things he could do with his voice.

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Comments
  1. Erik Berry says:

    “On a plain” too.

    • nsoulsby says:

      Bloody good point! I knew there were more! It’s not that it’s some plotted out concept I’m saying here – I just think that at certain times certain sounds predominated or became a regular approach.

  2. Brutus The Barber says:

    “Excuse” sounds like a fake.
    Don’t think Kurt ever sang in such a montone way not even when young.
    Doesn’t sound like his Fecal Matter voice.

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