Verse Chourus Verse: The Recording History Of NIRVANA
Goldmine #432, February 14, 1997
PAGE: 16 | back
Also prior to In Utero's release, three more Nirvana-related recordings were issued. June saw the release of another Westwood One radio promo, this one a double CD set in their Superstar Concert series, which also featured Soul Asylum. In July, Fumble, another Scream album, was released on Dischord to coincide with a Scream reunion tour held over the summer, Grohl rejoining his former bandmates on the club circuit. July 1 also saw the release of a Cobain's sideproject, with author William S. Burroughs, the one-sided single "The 'Priest' They Called Him," released on Tim/Kerr.
The recording featured Burroughs reading one of his short stories to Cobain's guitar accompaniment. The project came about as T/K's Thor Lindsay knew Cobain was interested in Burroughs. "Me and Kurt had been talking beat books for a while, and trading them," he says. "I sent him a first edition, autographed edition of Nalzed Lunch with a dust jacket; that literally became his bible, pretty much is what he stated. Then he wanted to talk to Burroughs, so I gave him William's number. He told me, 'If there's any kind of idea about me and Burroughs...,' and I said, 'You should a collaboration.' He said, 'I'd do it in a second!' So that's how 'Priest' came about."
The recording Cobain turned in to Lindsay contained "27 minutes of true Kurt. And I sent that to William's assistant, and Burroughs read a chapter out of the The Priest. Then they edited it to about 12 minutes. When the final package came out, Kurt was overwhelmed. It was just the way he wanted it. I was told that it was one of the last things he ever did in the studio. Those two Kurt records are pretty much the highlight of my career so far."
The single was issued as a CD and a 10inch vinyl one-sided single, that had Cobain's and Burrough's signatures etched gion the other side. "I stole that idea from a Columbia promo I have, a 12-inch promo of Johnny Cash and Nick Lowe's 'Without Love,"' says Lindsay. "They had them inscribe their autographs on the Beside. So I had William Burroughs autograph a 10-inch square pice of cardboard. I tried to get Kurt to autograph it, and he wouldn't do it, and he wouldn't do it, so I went down to the [San Franciscol Cow Palace where they were doing the benefit, and I had him autograph it. And then I had it etched into the vinyl." 10,000 copies were issued on black vinyl, and there were also lO,OOO picture discs; 5000 regular disc, and 5000 with yellow vinyl on the Beside; the discs were all hand-numbered. In yet another variation of his name spelling, the press release for the record referred to Cobain as "Kurtis Cohbaine. "
At Nirvana's July show at the New Music Seminar, they'd added two musicians to their line-up; John Duncan on guitar- replaced by the Germs' Pat Smear in September for the band's final tours-and Lori Goldston on cello. Goldston was a member of Seattle's Black Cat Orchestra, a moody, cabaret-styled ensemble. She was introduced to Nirvana through her work in a performance piece inspired by the recent events in Sarajevo. Novoselic had contacted the organizer of the piece to see if she knew of any available cellists, and Goldston was suggested. That summer, she started rehearsing with the group.
"I'd never laid eyes on anybody in Nirvana before I met them," she says. "I just went to rehearsal. It wasn't set up like an audition but it essentially was an audition. They were my favorite band, so I was flattered to be asked. And they're nice people. I thought they were great." Rehearsals were held three or four times a week, and Goldston found it easy to learn the parts. "Sometimes Kurt would just hum something," she says. "Or sometimes I would just pull the part off the record. Or sometimes I would come up with something. I'm pretty flexible that way I can read music fine, but I'm also happy to improvise or work out a part or come up with something and have people change it a little hit "
It's been reported that during the band's show at Roseland, the audience booed during the "acoustic" part of the-set. But listening to the show, it's hard to detect any booing at all. "I don't remember people booing," Goldston says. "People were kind of restless, but I don't remember anybody booing. But I was freaked out; I'd never played in front of that many people. I was pretty nervous."
Not long after, Charles Peterson did his final photo shoot with the group. "It was kind of disasterous for me," he admits. "I was really nervous because I didn't know what to do with them, and I hadn't photographed them posed in a long long time. Kurt was about an hour and a half late. It almost got to the point where Dave and Krist were like, 'Fuck this, let's leave.' And I was like, 'No, please, just wait!' And then Kurt showed up. They were all really nice; they cooperated well. But i wasn't thoroughly happy with my performance. In all these sessions, Kurt always hated having his picture taken, and he would let you know that. Then he'd go along with it. So you get the picture and go, I'm probably starting to over-reach myself—'Well, that's it.' And he'd be like, 'You sure you got enough?' In retrospect I should've done a lot more. But that's coming at it from a photographer's standpoint." Some of Peterson's photos from the session appeared on the cover of Alternative Press and Musician.
In August, the first single from In Utero was issued with the U.K. release of "HeartShaped Box." The 7-inch (initial copies on red vinyl) and cassette were b/w "Marigold," and the 12-inch and CD added "Milk It," it reached #13. No singles from the album were released in the U.S.; according to Mark Kates, an A&R rep at DGC, "Generally we don't release commerical singles because we feel it cannibalizes album sales." European singles are released, says Jim Merlis, because "Overseas there's a whole singles market. Generally the singles market in the United States is rap and Top 40 songs. It's a totally different market." Merlis adds that so many U.S. singles were released to promote Nevermind because "There was such a huge demand. 'Teen Spirit' was so huge and the album was so huge it took on a life of its own. You weren't even competing with yourself, because people were so hungry for Nirvana stuff."
But a CD promo of "Heart-Shaped Box" was released in the U.S. and reached the Top 10 in Billboard's Modern Rock and Album Rock tracks. Another unique promo is a 12inch record b/w In Utero's European bonus track, "Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip." It's said to be a U.S. promo, though Jim Merlis at DGC denies this.
The same month, another track from the In Utero sessions was released when "Verse Chorus Verse" (which had been considered as an album title) appeared as an uncredited track on the AIDS benefit compilation No Alternative. An early run of CDs had a glitch in Bob Mould's track; these were recalled but sent out as promos.
That year's MTV Music Video Awards saw the band winning another honor for the "In Bloom" video. September also saw the only public performance of Cobain and Love together at a Rock Against Rape benefit at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood Love performed "Doll Parts" and "Miss World (which would appear on Hole's next album, Live Through This), then introduced "My husband, Yoko." The two then played "Pennyroyal Tea" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?"
In Utero was released September 21 and entered the Billboard charts at #1 with first week sales of 180,000 copies. (in the U.K., it peaked at #8). Again, a vinyl album was issued (on September 14), in a run of 25,000 copies, on clear vinyl. The album has sold 3.1 copies in the U.S., an-d a total of 6.1 worldwide. "Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol" is the "hidden" track on the European release of the CD (referred to on the cover as the "Devalued American Dollar Purchase Incentive Track"), which appears some minutes after "All Apologies." The final unreleased track from the sessions, "I Hate Myself And Want To Die," also considered as In Utero's title, appeared on the compilation The Beavis And Butt-head Experience, released in September on DGC.
September also saw the release of the Melvins' album Houdini, which featured Cobain as producer on seven tracks; he also played guitar on "Sky Pup." Cobain worked with the band in San Francisco, and called up Jack Endino for advice. "He called me up to ask me some questions about micr°phones," he says. "He just wanted to ask me some questions 'cause he was going to produce for the first time and hed never done it before. And I talked to him a little bit and it was nice."
Immediately following In Utero's release, Nirvana made a second appearance on Saturday Night Live on September 25 (rehearsals had been held the previous day), performing "Heart-Shaped Box" and "Rape Me." The U.S. tour began in mid-October and continued until January 8, 1994. For Goldston, who had previously played smaller clubs, it took a bit of time making the adjustment to large halls. "I got used to it, but it was freaky," she says. "It broke me from stage fright pretty permanentlY In those first three or four shows, I just used my lifetime supply of stage fright or something." There was also the matter of avoiding the various articles of clothing-particularly shoes-that people would toss on stage. "I got a ducking reflex going," says Goldston. "I'm sitting and I've got this expensive instrument; I can't afford another cello, you know? So I'd just duck!"
But the music remained a highlight. "The one thing that was amazing to me is that I heard all those songs every night for months and l never got sick of them," Goldston says. "The music was always really exciting to me. I would usually hang out at the side of the stage and listen, and I would totally enjoy hearing it every night." Goldston also remembers the band kicking around ideas for new songs and their next album. "I got the sense it would maybe be noticeably different in some way," she says. "But the idea of using oboes was the only concrete recurring theme on that subject!"
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