Nirvana Demos of Lullaby, Dumb, Marigold and ‘Dave Solo’ Leaked

Interesting, since early last year the locks seem to have fallen off the ol’ Nirvana vaults somewhere down the line. My suspicion is that activity surrounding Montage of Heck led people to hunt out buried tapes, source material, to surreptitiously snag copies that are now emerging. That’d be ironic if part of the impetus around MoH was for the Estate of Kurt Cobain to safeguard the material.

So! What does it amount to? Incidentally, yes, I’m doing something I find fun and comforting – chatting about the music of Nirvana – to distract me from the dreary reality of the U.K. voting its way out of the EU. Probably best I don’t get into that one eh?

The first piece of interest is the emergence of ‘Lullaby’, a title that has floated around in fan circles (as ever kudos to LiveNirvana) for years. What does it amount to? Alas, not much. A jammed out improv with organ to the fore. There’s a guitar part low in the mix but is there – it seems all three members of Nirvana were in on this. The drum sound makes me think it might be Cobain drumming (thoughts and opinions welcomed!) Alas, these stabbing chords and little strolls don’t offer much and the band clearly know there’s not much left to offer other than a final shambolic breakdown. Noise is a good refuge for any jam that has run its course. Shame it didn’t quite live up to it’s name – I think I’d actually been hoping for some kind of slight ‘Marigold’ style acoustic piece.

Speaking of Marigold…Two versions have come out. The instrumental take one of Marigold is intriguing for giving a sense of what a more muscular guitar part might have lent to the track. The decision to keep it as a light pop tune, something whispered and gentle, certainly created something unique but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have potential to be a more standard fit for the Nirvana template.

Take two of Marigold, again an instrumental, seems primarily intended as a run-through of the drums. The guitar part is far more familiar but the drums are more forcefully delivered. Maybe it’s my ears but the drums seem to become more confident as it develops, like this is a practice exercise, warming up, Dave coaching Cobain through it until Cobain has it ready for what will become the proper cuts.

Oooo… ‘Dave Solo’, southern-fried boogie-down grunge rock! It’s pretty likable! The scratchy guitar sound and the growling rhythm guitar fit beautifully, it’s something different to verse-chorus-verse, works well as a relatively brief n’ spunky run-through of basic ideas and doesn’t outstay its welcome. There’s basically just a couple of thoughts at work in it, pretty-vestigial, no sense of how it might shift or develop…So it doesn’t, which is fine for a sub-two minute running time.

There’s also a barely different version of Dumb released. To be fair, by February 1993, Dumb had been worked over for so many years it would have been stunning if there were any significant changes or inflections left to make to it. The only thing I noticed is the absence of backing vocals (and perhaps a slightly less powerful delivery of the “I think I’m dumb” outro line:

Just for fun, here’s Dumb from KAOS 1990 too – nice to compare the takes and the small elements that shifted 1990 to 1993. The humming on the chorus is a lovely touch and does make me wonder if he was using a vocal sound to indicate where he already imagined another sound (the cello in 1993?) would substitute:


To finish on a high note…Now THIS I could listen to all day. Some kind and awesome soul has spliced together Nirvana’s ‘live destruction’ efforts from 1991 into two ten minute efforts. Ah…The sweet sweet sound of Nirvana torturing their instruments…




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