Nirvana – About A Girl

I never was a big fan of Nirvana but I was happy they were one of the bands that help push out Hair Metal and Spandex. Cobain was a great songwriter and I would have liked to see where he would have done next. This is my favorite song by them. The song was off their debut album Bleach recorded in 1988 and released in 1989.

Kurt Cobain wrote this after spending the previous night listening to The Beatles first US album, Meet The Beatles, over and over and you can hear it in the bridge. The most popular version of the song is on the MTV Unplugged episode. It peaked at #1 in the Billboard Alternative Charts in 1994 after Cobain died.

From Songfacts

Kurt Cobain wrote this for his girlfriend at the time, Tracy Marander. They lived together for a while, and she took the photo that’s on the album cover. Marander didn’t know the song was about her until she read about it years later in the book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana.

According to Chad Channing, who was Nirvana’s drummer at the time, Cobain didn’t have a title for this song when he brought it to the studio. Chad told us: “I remember we were rehearsing the song not long before we went in and recorded the record, Bleach. Kurt was just playing the song and we were working it out. I asked Kurt what the song was, and Kurt was like, ‘Well, I don’t really know.’ And then I said, ‘Well, what’s it about?’ And he says, ‘It’s about a girl.’ And I said, ‘Well, why don’t you just call it ‘About A Girl’?’ And he just kind of looked at me and smiled and said, ‘Okay.’ We went with that.”

Channing adds that this is one of the songs that really impressed him about Cobain’s songwriting. “It’s kind of heavy, but it’s got a total pop sensibility,” he said. “I always thought he was a great songwriter.”

This was one of Nirvana’s first songs. It was released on Sub Pop, an independent record label they recorded on before being signed by David Geffen’s DGC Records.

This is the first track on Nirvana’s acoustic album MTV Unplugged In New York, which was released after the death of Cobain. Thanks to airplay, the song hit #22 in the US in October 1994, which was about six months after Cobain died.

The album Bleach initially sold about 35,000 copies, which was pretty good for an Indie band and got them signed to a major label. The album eventually sold over 1 million copies, as many Nirvana fans bought it after Cobain died.

This was popular on college radio long before Nirvana hit it big.

The album cost about $600 to produce. They got the title from a public service campaign in San Francisco that urged intravenous drug users to “Bleach Your Works,” meaning to clean their needles with bleach so they would not spread the AIDS virus. At one point, Cobain wanted to call the album “Too Many Humans.”

The cover of Bleach shows four band members. For a while, Nirvana had a second guitarist named Jason Everman.

On Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged special, Cobain said, “This is off our first record, most people don’t own it” before playing the song.

About A Girl

I need an easy friend
I do, with an ear to lend
I don’t think you fit this shoe
I do, won’t you have a clue

I’ll take advantage while
You hang me out to dry
But I can’t see you every night
Free

I’m standing in your line
I do hope you have the time
I do pick a number too
I do keep a date with you

I’ll take advantage while
You hang me out to dry
But I can’t see you every night
Free

I need an easy friend
I do whip her in to land
I do think you fit this shoe
I do won’t you have a clue

I’ll take advantage while
You hang me out to dry
But I can’t see you every night
No I can’t see you every night
Free
I do
I do
I do
I do

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

53 thoughts on “Nirvana – About A Girl”

  1. The MTV version would definitely rank high on my list of favorites by them…great guitar and melody. Like you said, had he lived I imagine he would have created some good material and expanded the band’s sound (just as Pearl Jam did…not that Nirvana would have followed PJ’s template, but just that they likely would’t have been locked into one grunge release after another)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. off topic, but just popped into my head, thought this would interest you… have you heard Tom Hanks and Baz Luhrman are starting to work on a movie about Colonel Tom And Elvis? Hanks is pegged to play Col. Tom , they haven’t cast elvis yet. Should be interesting to see

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They were my age exactly but I never knew much about them myself…preferring at the time to keep my Who, Stones and Beatles records close. I like a few select songs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They were my generation…my exact age but I never could see the fuss about them. Cobain was a good songwriter but the Seattle thing just didn’t’ get to me.
        I had a buddy move to Seattle in 90 or 91 and he called me…he told me about a band he saw in a run down bar with a blonde singer…it was Nirvana before they made it.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. My friends and I were big into the Alternative Seattle music scene. I really dug that music. I wrote a post about it somewhere. But like you I didn’t take to Nirvana.
        That’s an interesting story about your mate seeing Nirvana in their pre-fame days.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The one thing I will say about Cobain is he could write a good pop melody. In one of his last interviews he was saying he was going that way… REM type powerpop…that would have been interesting to hear.

        It was his delivery I didn’t like… probably like other people’s take on Joplin.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Look, don’t get me wrong – many of their songs are really catchy and deliver some punch. So from that perspective I get it. But personally I haven’t really had the inclination to hear them again and when I have, I have regretted it. The melodies and his voice just don’t do it for me.
        Yeh, the fusion with a REM sound may have been interesting. The Janis comparison perhaps is a good one.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I never got into Nirvana. I think it was the music itself but also, it was his attitude not so much on stage but off it. He acted as if he wasn’t like “them”, as in individuals trying to get famous, as he never saw what he was doing as being like them. Hypocritical disdain, I guess you’d call it.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Their music depressed me…saying that…I did see the great melodies he wrote…I will give him credit on that. It so surprises me that most people that commented today didn’t really like them….I wasn’t the only one

        Now I love the bridge to this song…very Beatle-ish

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Whew…I like rough voices but he flat out screamed at times. I just didn’t see how he was that important. His name gets thrown around with Lennon…I’m like woooo….back up the truck. He could write good melodies though…I can’t take that away from him.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Janis screamed, too. And, come to think of it, I’ve seen some video clips of Lennon screaming (don’t get me started on Yoko).

        That is a generational thing. The kids after us thought Cobain & Vedder were gods. Most were born after Lennon’s murder. My dad’s generation…Sinatra or Elvis. The last “recent” song my dad liked was “Hurts So Good” by Mellencamp. Prior to that, he couldn’t listen to anything past 1974.

        Just think how our lives would have been if, when we were young, we were subjected to Bieber and Grande.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. See I always liked the generation before me…that is why the 80s are my least posted probably…well yes compared to 60s and 70s.

        Sometimes screaming is good at times… but I don’t know…i just couldn’t relate as much as Lennon or Joplin… I liked Cobain’s unplugged stuff much much better.

        Oh geez…Bieber and Grande… no no no…well my son and his friends like classic rock…hmmm wonder why?

        Like

      10. Music types is an individual thing. I like much from my dad’s generation. Some stuff from my GP’s generation…

        Same reason I liked Elvis, The Everly Brothers & Ricky Nelson…parental influence & exposure.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. lol no the pills to get up and go to sleep. I thought every dad carried a bag a pills…he had 70 kidney stones so it wasn’t hard for him to get anything.

        Like

      12. I have a maternal first cousin that lives in Wasilla, AK, just outside of Anchorage. Been there since 1980. She was enjoying Pearl Jam before they made it big. She was talking about them before they were even known.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. That is really cool watching a band before they get big.
        My uncle owned a gold mine in Anchorage….had country songs on the charts in Canada, owned a snowmobile factory and of course the gold….

        Like

      14. Before he passed away a few years ago we made plans and he was going to record some on my Cubase system but he died before he got to. He was around 80 or over.

        His wife was a little out there but she was a pilot in Alaska when women pilots were not the norm.

        The other side of my family made guitars…really cool guitars but stopped making them by the time I was old enough to learn. George Jones and others used them.

        Like

      15. Wow.

        The closest I get to a family member being “in the business” is this:
        https://www.allmusic.com/artist/echo-7-mn0000795172/biography

        The guy in the middle, that is Ronnie O’Briant, Jr….Ken’s godson. Ken’s best friend and fellow police officer was Ronnie O’Briant, Sr. There is some chick on FB calling herself Echo7 out of Baltimore and even grabbed an echo7band.com web address but, Ronnie & his bunch were the first. Their Echo 7 Band went under when the record label crashed. This was their second album:
        https://www.amazon.com/One-Step-Away-Echo7/dp/B0000A5A3X
        Track #5…Masquerade is a re-recorded update of the original on the first album, Trippin’ On Destiny.

        I have a copy of the first one that is SO out of print (finite number…self financed). To me, it is better than the second album.

        Tour history:
        https://www.concertarchives.org/bands/echo-7

        They toured with Queensryche but, I can’t find a record of that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ m not as much a fan of Nirvana as a lot of people my age, either… but to stir up a musical hornets nest I’ll say it: one big 90s band I don’ t like much is Radiohead! Many think they’re the second coming of the Beatles wrapped up in Elvis but for me just too wilfully weird. Although I do like 3 or 4 songs of theirs quite a bit. Anyone else feel that way?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ::bzzzzing like a hornet::: Maybe you just haven’t heard the right Radiohead? One thing I do know about their music is that I have to suspend my framework of expectations when I listen. I open my mind and let go and there it is, “the second coming of the Beatles wrapped up in Elvis” 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. the one song by them that I really like a lot is “There There”. A few other songs , especially their early ones like “Just” and “Paranoid Android” seem ok to me, but mostly to me just hype and willing weirdness … but a lot of people I know and respect think they’re great, so enjoy them if you will 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I would have liked to hear Cobain do some REM like songs. That I would have liked… I like the Foo Fighters better than Nirvana….I’m in the minority probably.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey. I liked Foo Fighters. Same feel. Cobain doing REM? That would be interesting. Stipe can squeak, too.

        FF had a larger following. Nirvana only had three studio albums and one compilation (while he was alive). All the live albums were released after his death. Everything just stopped.

        Liked by 1 person

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