1992 single by Nirvana
“ Lithium “ is a song by the American rock band Nirvana, written by singer and guitarist, Kurt Cobain. It appears as the fifth track on the ring ‘s moment album Nevermind, released by DGC Records in September 1991. “ lithium ” was released as the album ‘s third single in July 1992, peaking at phone number 64 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and issue 11 on the UK Singles Chart. It was besides a number 1 hit in Finland and a top 5 strike in Ireland and Portugal. The accompanying music television, directed by american film maker Kevin Kerslake, is a compilation of exist footage.
Reading: Lithium (Nirvana song) – Wikipedia
Background and recording [edit ]
Written in 1990, “ lithium ” was debuted at a video seance at the Evergreen State College ‘s television studio in Olympia, Washington on March 20, 1990. The entire session, which besides included versions of three songs from the dance band ‘s 1989 introduction album, Bleach, was directed by Jon Snyder and conceived by Cobain as a likely television handout. [ 2 ] It featured the band performing live while a collage of television receiver footage taped by Cobain at home played in the background. To date, no full moon songs from this school term have been formally released by Nirvana ‘s record company, although television for “ Lithium ” and “ School, ” edited by Snyder and featuring extra footage and still photos, appeared on two episodes of 1200 Seconds, a television testify produced by evergreen students. The episodes aired in the fall of 1990 on a local community access cable television station. [ 3 ] The birdcall was added to Nirvana ‘s setlist soon after, over a class before the release of Nevermind. Kim Thayil, guitarist of Seattle rock band Soundgarden, recalled hearing it for the first time during Nirvana ‘s show at the Off Ramp Cafe in Seattle on November 25, 1990, saying that “ when I heard ‘Lithium, ‘ it stuck in my mind. Ben, our bass actor, came up to me and said, ‘That ‘s the collision. That ‘s the top 40 reach right there. ” [ 4 ] In April 1990, “ lithium ” was recorded by Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin, during the record sessions for what was intended to be a second album for the band ‘s original pronounce, Sub Pop. [ 5 ] however, the release was abandoned after the departure of drummer Chad Channing late that class, and the eight-song session was alternatively circulated as a show magnetic tape, which helped generate interest with the isthmus among major labels. [ 6 ] On September 25, 1990, Cobain performed a solo acoustic version of the sung on the Boy Meets Girl show, hosted by Calvin Johnson, on KAOS ( FM ) in Olympia, Washington. “ lithium ” was re-recorded by Vig in May 1991 at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, during the sessions for what became Nirvana ‘s moment album and major-label debut, Nevermind. preliminary attempts at recording the sung ‘s instruments were unsuccessful, in separate because the band was having a difficult time maintaining a regular tempo, and kept speeding up. [ 7 ] After one failed aim, the isthmus abandoned the birdcall as a “ thwart ” [ 8 ] Cobain began playing the sung, “ Endless, Nameless “ rather. This adaptation of “ Endless, Nameless ” was released as the album ‘s hide track. The band ‘s time problems were immediately solved when their new drummer, Dave Grohl, took Vig ‘s advice to play with a metronome. [ 7 ] Vig besides advised Grohl to use simple fills and patterns for the sung than he had initially attempted. The song ‘s hushed verses and brassy choruses dynamic besides presented a challenge for Vig, who said that “ getting the verses to sound relax and the chorus to sound american samoa intense as possible, and make the transitions feel natural and effortless, was a hard one to do. ” [ 9 ] As Vig recalled, “ Kurt wanted to be able to play the guitar very … not methodical-it needed to have this quad. ” [ 9 ] The blue healthy of the falsify guitar was achieved by using a Big Muff fuzzbox played through a Fender Bassman bass amplifier, recorded with what Vig believes was an U47 microphone that he normally used to record sea bass guitar. The vocals for the song ‘s verses were recorded in two takes, with the second lead being used as the master song track, although Vig used the moment line of the second base verse from take one. The chorus vocals were quickly recorded and double-tracked after. [ 9 ] “ lithium ” was performed live at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards on September 9, 1992, in Los Angeles, although the dance band had wanted to play the unreleased song “ Rape Me “ rather. The band ‘s initial choice was met with resistance from MTV, who wanted them to play their discovery single, “ Smells Like Teen Spirit, ” rather, and were possibly wary of the fresh song ‘s controversial entitle and lyrics. Nirvana agreed to play “ Lithium ” as a compromise, over concerns that not playing the show might lead to MTV boycotting other acts on their tag, Gold Mountain, or firing their friend at the station, Amy Finnerty. [ 10 ] “ We did n’t want to fuck everything up for everyone so we decided to play ‘Lithium, ‘ ” Cobain explained in the 1993 Nirvana biography, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. “ alternatively of bowing out and keeping our dignity, we decided to get fucked in the ass. ” [ 11 ] The performance, which featured Cobain playing a short partially of “ Rape Me ” at the beginning “ precisely to give [ MTV ] a little affection palpitation, ” [ 12 ] ended with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic being struck by his bass after throwing it into the tune and attempting to catch it unsuccessfully. The final alive version of “ Lithium ” was at Nirvana ‘s death appearance, on March 1, 1994, at Terminal Einz in Munich, Germany .
composition [edit ]
music [edit ]
“ lithium ” is an alternative rock birdcall that runs for a duration of four minutes and sixteen seconds. [ 13 ] According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by BMG Rights Management, it is written in the prison term signature of common time, with a control tempo of 124 beats per minute. [ 13 ] “ Lithium ” is composed in the identify of D Major, with guitars tuned down a whole note, and harmonize shapes resembling chords in the key of E Major, while Kurt Cobain ‘s vocal range spans one octave and three notes, from the low-note of C4 to the high-note of F5. [ 13 ] The presentation, verses and chorus have a basic harmonize sequence of D5–F♯5–B5–G5–Bb5–C5–A5–C5 and alternates between the chords G5 and Bb5 during the bridge. A passage from the bridge to the main chord sequence consists of a bar of C5 and a bar of A5. The sheet music makes no citation to the lower tune of the guitars and ( inaccurately ) shows the E Major key signature. [ 13 ] [ 14 ] The agreement is representative of the musical style Nirvana had developed during sour on Nevermind, alternating between hushed and forte sections. [ 15 ] In the birdcall, Cobain fingers chord shapes on his guitar but varies between playing single notes and double stops on the legal document, giving the track a loose feel. [ 16 ] The sung opens with bouncing guitar strums before Cobain starts singing his lines in an about whispered manner. [ 17 ] His voice retains a quantify calm during the verses, where low, open guitar lines trace the outline of the song ‘s tune. [ 18 ] During the refrain, Cobain shouts “ Ye-eh-eh-eh-eh ” over five notes and distorted, towering riffs. [ 19 ] [ 20 ] Cobain ‘s slurred, surging rhythm guitar meshes with Novoselic ‘s melodious bass and Grohl ‘s intense, snappy drum. [ 21 ]
Lyrics [edit ]
According to Cobain, “ lithium ” was “ one of those songs I actually did finish while trying to write it rather of taking pieces of my poetry and other things ”. [ 22 ] In his 1993 biography Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, writer Michael Azerrad described the birdcall ‘s style as “ an update on Marx ‘s description of religion as the ‘ opiate of the masses. ‘ ” [ 23 ] Gillian G. Gaar described it as “ a song whose sing-along melody typically masks the disturbing quality of the lyric, which touches on the comfort one can find in religion or madness. ” [ 24 ] As Cobain explained, “ In the song, a guy ’ south lost his girl and his friends and he ’ south brooding. He ’ second decided to find God before he kills himself. It ’ second hard for me to understand the indigence for a vice like [ religion ] but I can appreciate it excessively. People need vices. ” [ 25 ] In Come As You Are, Cobain acknowledged that the song might have been inspired in part by the time he spent living with his acquaintance Jesse Reed and his born-again christian parents. Cobain told Azerrad that he was n’t necessarily anti-religion, saying that “ I ‘ve constantly felt that some people should have religion in their lives … That ‘s all right. If it ‘s going to save person, it ‘s okay. And the person in [ ‘Lithium ‘ ] needed it. ” [ 23 ]
Release and reception [edit ]
“ lithium ” was released as the third base single from Nevermind on July 13, 1992. Featuring a cover photograph by Cobain, the single contained a sonogram of the musician ‘s then-unborn child Frances Bean Cobain, [ 26 ] a well as broad lyrics for all the songs on Nevermind. Cassette, CD, 12-inch vinyl, and british 12-inch vinyl picture disk editions included “ Curmudgeon ” and a live version of “ Been a Son ” ( performed on Halloween the previous year ) as B-sides. The british 7-inch and cassette featured merely “ Curmudgeon ” as an excess track, while the UK CD release added a covering of the Wipers ‘ “ D-7 ” recorded for BBC Radio 1 disk jockey John Peel ‘s plan in 1990. [ 27 ] John Sullivan for New York Magazine described “ lithium ” as a “ flawlessly crafted hit. ” [ 28 ] AllMusic ‘s Mark Demming remarked, “ For all the sound and ferocity of Nirvana ‘s epochal album, Nevermind, it ‘s significant that the album ‘s best and most affect birdcall is besides among the quietest. … The liberating pull of Nirvana ‘s cheer anger was rarely more mighty than in the avail of this song. ” [ 18 ] Time music critic Christopher Farley praised the birdcall for its “ gorgeous guitar hooks, ” write, “ Its punk-inspired, we-couldn’t-care-less ethos seemed to reflect the restless apathy some young people felt toward their times. ” [ 29 ] “ lithium ” was ranked the twentieth best individual of the year in the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics ‘ poll, tying with singles by Ministry, Lisa Stansfield, and Utah Saints [ 30 ] In 1993, it was voted at number 50 on Spin ‘s top 100 Songs of Our Time. [ 31 ]
Read more: Top 10 Best Songs of All Time
In 2012, NME ranked Lithium at number 52 on its tilt of the “ 100 Best Tracks Of The ’90s ”. [ 32 ] In 2013, it was voted number one “ by a pretty comfortable margin ” in Rolling Stone’s reader ‘s poll of “ The 10 Best Nirvana Songs. ” [ 33 ] According to Nielsen Music ‘s year-end composition for 2019, “ lithium ” was the tenth most-played song of the decade on mainstream rock radio with 123,000 spins. All of the songs in the top 10 were from the 1990s. [ 34 ]
bequest [edit ]
On April 10, 2014, “ lithium ” was performed by surviving Nirvana members Grohl, Novoselic and Pat Smear, with lead vocals and guitar by american rock candy musician St. Vincent, at the band ‘s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York. “ lithium ” was used as the goal song for Seattle ‘s NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, in their inaugural season. [ 35 ]
Chart performance [edit ]
In the United States, the single charted at number 64 on the Billboard Hot 100 individual graph. “ Lithium ” peaked at total 16 and 25 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock Tracks airplay charts, respectively. [ 36 ]
live promotional versions [edit ]
Paradiso version [edit ]
A hot adaptation of “ Lithium, ” recorded at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on November 25, 1991, was released as a promotional single in Holland in 1996, for the live compilation From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, [ 37 ] released in October 1996. Clips of this operation of the song appeared in the 2005 documentary Classic Albums: Nirvana – Nevermind, and the full show was released on Blu-ray and CD on the thirtieth anniversary “ Super Deluxe ” version of Nevermind on November 12, 2021 .
The Palace, Melbourne interpretation [edit ]
In October, 2021, another live version, recorded at The Palace in Melbourne, Australia on February 1, 1992, was released as a streaming single ahead of its appearance on the thirtieth anniversary edition of the Nevermind. [ 38 ] [ 39 ] Reviewing the acquittance for Rolling Stone, Kory Grow wrote that “ the real charming in the corner set manifests during the band ‘s Melbourne, Australia, gig on Feb. 1, 1992. Cobain urges the push to sing along with him on ‘Lithium ‘ – a chase that had n’t flush come out as a one yet – and the audience about drowns him out, gleefully belting his lyrics about feeling simultaneously happy and surly and not caring who knows it. Cobain sounds then into it, he forgot to kick on his distorted shape bicycle for the sung ‘s aboriginal ‘yeah ‘ choir ”. [ 40 ]
Reading 1992 interpretation [edit ]
A hot version of the song recorded during the band ‘s headline set at the Reading Festival in Reading, England, on August 30, 1992, was released as a promotional single from the album Live at Reading, released in November 2009. Video of this version inaugural appeared on the 1994 family movie Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!, although the audio was previously unreleased. In the analogue notes to From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, Novoselic wrote that “ hearing tens of thousands of people sing along with [ the Reading adaptation of ] ‘Lithium ‘ was a very cool moment in the history of the ring. ”
music video [edit ]
The music video recording for “ Lithium ” was the second of four Nirvana videos directed by Kevin Kerslake, who had worked with the set on the video for their previous individual, “ Come as You Are, ” and later directed the video for “ In Bloom “ and “ Sliver. ” The television features a collage of hot footage from the 1992 home movie 1991: The Year Punk Broke, which documented the band ‘s two-week european go with Sonic Youth, and from their indicate at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle on October 31, 1991. The footage from The Year Punk Broke was filmed at the 1991 Reading Festival on August 23, 1991, and at De Doelen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands on September 1, 1991. It features Cobain jumping into the drum set at the end of the Reading set, during “ Endless, Nameless, ” which led to him dislocating his arm. [ 41 ] According to Azerrad in Come as You Are, Cobain ‘s original design for a “ lithium ” video recording was an animated film about a girl named Preggo, who lives in a house in a afforest. The story was to feature Preggo finding a stack of eggs in her closet and putting them in a train of three wagons that she wheels through the forest, until she comes to a king ‘s castle. By this clock, all but one of the egg has cracked, and she carries it to the king asleep on his toilet and places it on a large script on his lap. When the king awakens, he opens his leg and the book slides shut on the egg between his leg. This concept was abandoned when Cobain and Kerslake learned that the animation would take four months to produce, and the live collage was made alternatively. [ 42 ] “ Azerrad wrote that while the concluding video was “ enlivened by Kerslake ‘s neat magic trick of using more fierce footage during the hushed parts of the sung and frailty versa, ” it “ was something of a disappointment from a band and a birdcall that promised so much. ” [ 43 ]
chase list [edit ]
All songs written by Kurt Cobain, except where noted .
- US 12-inch, cassette, CD, and UK 12-inch vinyl picture disc
- “Lithium” – 4:16
- “Been a Son” (live – Seattle – 31.10.1991) – 2:14
- “Curmudgeon” – 2:58
- UK 7-inch vinyl and cassette
- “Lithium” – 4:16
- “Curmudgeon” – 2:58
- UK CD
Charts and certifications [edit ]
Accolades [edit ]
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other releases [edit ]
- The studio version recorded at Smart Studios in Madison in April 1990 was released in September 2011, when all eight songs recorded at the sessions appeared on disc two of the 20th anniversary “Deluxe” and “Super Deluxe” versions of Nevermind.
- The solo acoustic version performed by Cobain on the Boy Meets Girl show in Olympia on September 25, 1990 appeared on the Nirvana box set, With the Lights Out, in November 2005. It was re-released on the compilation, Sliver: The Best of the Box, in November 2005.
- The 20th anniversary “Super Deluxe” version of Nevermind also featured early “Devonshire” mixes for most of the album, including “Lithium.”
- A live version, recorded on October 31, 1991 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington, appeared on Live at the Paramount, released on DVD and Blu-Ray in September 2011.
- A brief clip of the band performing the song live at the Astoria Theatre in London, England on November 5, 1991 appears on Live! Tonight!! Sold Out!!. The clip, which appears immediately before the Reading version, features Cobain singing the opening lines of the song before stopping and telling the audience to wait while he starts over.
- Along with the Paradiso and Palace versions, two other live versions of “Lithium” appeared on the 30th anniversary “Super Deluxe” version of Nevermind, from the band’s performances at Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, California on December 28, 1991, and at the Nakano Sunplaza in Tokyo, Japan on February 19, 1992.
- A live version, recorded on December 13, 1993 at Pier 48 in Seattle, Washington, appeared on the live video Live and Loud, released on DVD in September 2011. An edited version of the show, including “Lithium,” was first broadcast on MTV, who filmed the concert, on December 31, 1993.
Cover versions [edit ]
Cover versions of the birdcall have been performed by choral rock band The Polyphonic Spree ( which appeared in the 2015 movie The Big Short ), The Vaselines, Rockabye Baby ! ( as a lullaby ), Man with a mission and wind four The Bad Plus .
Personnel [edit ]
References [edit ]
- Classic Albums—Nirvana: Nevermind [DVD]. Isis Productions, 2004.
- Azerrad, Michael. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday, 1994. ISBN 0-385-47199-8
- Berkenstadt, Jim; Cross, Charles. Classic Rock Albums: Nevermind. Schirmer, 1998. ISBN 0-02-864775-0