Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York
While I have not listened to this in a while, I have not forgotten how amazing this record is… Raw, beautiful and absolutely powerful.
This one is bittersweet for sure…
“MTV Unplugged in New York was the first Nirvana album released in the wake of the April 1994 suicide of singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and has become the group’s most successful posthumous release, selling five million copies in America by 1997. It also won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996. MTV Unplugged was hailed by critics as proof the band was able to transcend the grunge sound they were commonly associated with. The performance was released on DVD in 2007.”
Since I am actually writing this from the road while traveling, I will rely a little more heavily on Wikipedia. Okay, mostly on Wikipedia… Especially when they are giving such great information and stories… So there you go!!!
“Nirvana had been in negotiations with MTV to appear on its acoustic-based show MTV Unplugged for some time. It was while touring with the Meat Puppets that Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain finally accepted. The band wanted to do something different from a typical MTV Unplugged episode for its performance. According to Dave Grohl, “We’d seen the other Unpluggeds and didn’t like many of them, because most bands would treat them like rock shows—play their hits like it was Madison Square Garden, except with acoustic guitars.” The group looked at Mark Lanegan’s 1990 album The Winding Sheet as a source of inspiration. Among the ideas the band members came up with included covering David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” and inviting members of the Meat Puppets to join them on stage. Still, the prospect of performing an entirely acoustic show made Cobain nervous.”
“The band dedicated two days to rehearsals. The rehearsal sessions were tense and difficult, with the band running into problems performing various songs. During the sessions, Cobain disagreed with MTV as to how the performance should be presented. Producer Alex Colettirecollected that the network was unhappy with the band’s choice of the Meat Puppets as guests (“They wanted to hear the ‘right’ names-Eddie Vedder or Tori Amos or God knows who”, Coletti recalled) and the dearth of hit Nirvana songs on the setlist. Upset, the day before filming was set to take place Cobain refused to play. However, he appeared at the studio the following afternoon. Cobain was suffering from drug withdrawal and nervousness at the time; one observer said, “There was no joking, no smiles, no fun coming from him… Therefore, everyone was more than a little worried about his performance.”
“Nirvana taped its performance for MTV Unplugged on November 18, 1993, at Sony Studios in New York City. Despite the show’s premise, Cobain insisted on running his acoustic guitar through his amplifier and effects pedals. Coletti built a fake box in front of the amplifier to disguise it as a monitor wedge. Coletti said, “It was Kurt’s security blanket. He was used to hearing this guitar through his Fender. He wanted those effects. You can hear it on ‘The Man Who Sold The World.’ It’s an acoustic guitar, but he’s obviously going through an amp.” Nirvana was augmented by guitarist Pat Smear and cellist Lori Goldston, who had been touring with the band. Cobain suggested that the stage be decorated with stargazer lilies, black candles, and a crystal chandelier. Cobain’s request prompted the show’s producer to ask him, “You mean like a funeral?”, to which the singer replied, “Exactly. Like a funeral.”
“Unlike many artists who appeared on the show, Nirvana filmed its entire performance in a single take. The band’s fourteen-song setlist included six cover versions. The group shied away from playing its better-known songs; the only hit the band performed was its 1992 single “Come as You Are”. Ten songs in, Cris and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets joined the band onstage to perform three of their group’s songs with Nirvana. The set ended with a performance of a traditional song “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” arranged by blues musician Lead Belly. After the band finished, Cobain argued with the show’s producers, who wanted an encore. Cobain refused because he felt he could not top the performance of that song.”
Pretty good stuff, right??? This and of course this amazing record… Rock n’ Roll is a tricky beast!!!