- [O] Asking For It Cobain on backing vocals
- [O] Doll Parts Cobain on backing vocals
- [O] Softer, Softest Cobain on backing vocals
- [X] Jam instrumental Cobain on drums, Erlandson on guitar, Love on guitar, Slade on bass
- [?] others?
- Audio: 2-inch 24-track analog magnetic tape (session tape)
Before embarking on NIRVANA's In Utero tour, Cobain flew to Atlanta to visit Love, who was recording her band's second album, Live Through This.
Arriving at the studio some ten days into the session, Cobain was presented with the basic tracks (drums/bass/scratch guitars/scratch vocals) and was invited to sing backing vocals on a few of the unfinished numbers. (1)
Cobain allegedly protested at first, but then relented. It was apparent to album producers, Sean Slade and Paul Kolderie, that Cobain was unfamiliar with much of the material.
She said things like, recalls Kolderie.
Come on, sing on this one,
He kept saying, (2)
Well let me hear it. How can I sing on it if I haven't heard it? She'd say,
Just sing off the top of your head.
The results were less than impressive. Consequently, most of Cobain's improvised harmonies were erased from the final mix,
The only one you can really hear on the finished record is on Asking For It, during the breakdown part where she sings , Kolderie explains.
If you live through this with me…
He sang on about five or so [tracks in total], probably Violet, Miss World and Doll Parts, I can't remember any of the others. (1)
Having taken a break for dinner, the session devolved into a formless jam with Cobain on drums, Erlandson and Love on guitars and session co-producer Sean Slade on bass. (2)
Vocal mic for this session was a Neumann U47 tube, console was Neve 8068 (previously owned by Alabama) and tape machine was a Studer A800 24-track. (1)
When quizzed as to whether or not the session tapes featuring Cobain still exist, Kolderie responds,
The tapes do exist but after Kurt died Geffen rounded them all up. We heard Courtney wanted to remix some of the Hole songs to feature Kurt more, but as far as I know nothing ever came of it as there just wasn't very much there… (1)
Poppy Z. Brite's Courtney Love: The Real Story quotes Love speaking in 1995:
My feeling has always been, put lyrics on top of every single note. I learned a lot about space from Kurt, and a lot about harmonies. There are harmonies all over [Live Through This] that are Kurt's… you can hear him on Pee Girl [Softer, Sofest]… (3)
The tragically titled Live Through This was released less than a week after Kurt Cobain's suicide, on April 12, 1994. Despite having garnered overwhelming critical acclaim (Live Through This was named one of the five best albums of the '90s by Spin magazine), Love claimed that the album was subpar,
Live Through This was just me on three gears, not four. Because my fourth gear was sucked up through drugs, a relationship. I did not have a fourth gear to work with. The purity was not completely there. It was like where in school I would cram—not do my homework. If I did it, I know I'd get an A. I'd cram and get a B or a B+. I never did that extra footwork for the A. This record was a B-. And I knew that was enough to get by in terms of my peers. (4)
The final track on the album was originally planned to be Rock Star, but the band opted to remove it at the last minute. The decision to omit the track came so late, in fact, that there was no time to change the artwork—an outtake called
Olympia was substituted, but is labeled as
Rock Star on the sleeve. One presumes that the song was dropped on account of it's lyrics:
How'd you like to be a rock star?
Lots of fun to be a rock star
I think you'd rather die
but I bet you'd like to try
How'd you like to be in Nirvana?
Barrel of laughs to be in Nirvana
How'd you like to be in Nirvana?
I think you'd rather die…
- Kolderie, Paul Q., 2003. Personal communication with Alex Roberts ↑
- Cross, Charles R., 2001. Heavier Than Heaven. Hodder & Stoughton, London. ↑
- Brite, Poppy Z., 1997. Courtney Love: The Real Story. Orion, London. ↑
- Fricke, David, 1994. Life After Death, Rolling Stone, [online] Available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/courtneylove/articles/story/5937442/life_after_death. ↑