Smells like teen spirit is a song recorded by Nirvana and included in the album Nevermind, released in 1991. Is the lead single of their second LP, and was one of the biggest hits made by Nirvana.
Was the song that give to the band the great popularity at the times of the MTV channel.

A bomb inside our lifes, while we go out of ’80. The anger and the desperation of a new and entire generation start to go to the main stream. And this was the first giant step. Obviusly Kurt hated this song, and performed live very rarely.

Kurt said about this song: “I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off The Pixies.”

In the meaning section, below, you can discover the fun and weird story of the title of this song. Like most things in Kurt’s life is so natural and strange. At the same time. Just like him.


Lyrics

Load up on guns, bring your friends
It’s fun to lose and to pretend
She’s over-bored and self-assured
Oh no, I know a dirty word

Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido
Yeah, hey

I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end

Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido
Yeah, hey, yeh

And I forget just why I taste
Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile
I found it hard, it’s hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind

Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido

A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial, a denial
A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial.

Smells like teen spirit, Nirvana and the meaning of this song

During a day in the august of 1990, Kurt and the singer of the band Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna, were on a little hill in Olympia. Near a formerly know center for pregnant teen, that in reality was a pro life center that encourage people to keep their babies.

Kathleen and Kurt was angry young feminists, and decided to write “Fake Abortion Clinic Everyone” on the wall of the medical center. Instead at the last moment, Kurt wrote the words “God is gay” on the wall.

When they come back to the motel where Kurt lives, Hanna, before leave the room wrote on the wall the famous words “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Teen Spirit was a deodorant, that Hanna used, and she was implying that Cobain was marked with her scent.

After some month Kurt call Hanna for ask her if he could use that words for the lyrics of one of his song. Hanna said: “I thought how he can going to use a very strange phrase like that”.

 Load up on guns, bring your friends
It’s fun to lose and to pretend 

A reference to the strange connection with guns and weapons in general. Like in the song In Bloom, Kurt make a vague call to the youngs of his generation to be rebel, and maybe this line become an esortation to use weapons like guns too.

We must follow the idea that all the lyrics of this song, are like a joke. Analizing the meaning of Smells like teen spirit, we can see a lot of big contraddiction.

Kurt show this in an inteview on Rolling Stone Magazine in 1994:

I still like playing “Teen Spirit,” but it’s almost an embarrassment to play it.

 She’s over-bored and self-assured
Oh no, I know a dirty word 

All the album Nevermind was written during the period of Tobi Vail. A relationship very important for Kurt, where they spent most of their time together talking about philosofy and polital stuffs.

Kurt see in Tobi his female counterpart, with that maternal comfort that he would. But Tobi can’t give him what he wants.

 Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello, how low
Hello, hello, hello 

This lines, maybe can seems simple, but inside them i see the great talent of artist and communicator that Cobain was. The deep feeling of the obsessive repetition of the word Hello, that blurry and softly change in the line How Low. This show a depressive statement that build the plateau full of sadness, that explode in the full energy chorus that wake up an entire generation.

 With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious 

In this words we can see most of the elements of the depression and the weakness of Kurt Cobain. You can’t see all the terrible things that happens on this earth when the lights are off. If you love someone you don’t want to see all the bad things that he or she made. You want to be blind. Is a simple way to override the problem. Because problems don’t go away if you don’t watch them.

Every time he come to a show he made a joke with their fans saying the words Here we are now, Entertain us. But was a deep bad feeling that he have about the arrogance of the fans that wants only to be entertained by the band. Like if all the concerts was a big party where people can have some fun. But for Kurt the important thing was always the music. His songs. The things that he want to say to the world.

Sometime he have a way to move and to react to people that can be exagerated and funny. But was a fake way to be Stupid. The contagious of that way to live feel like if he criticizing himself to be a rockstar.

A way to live that is not what he want.

 Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido
Yeah, hey 

This words are more strange. It seems like if it is a sort of analogy, a confrontation between the words.

In this way the mulatto is someone that had a good amount of pigment in their skin, while the albino don’t have pigment at all.

So, the mosquito is a really small and meaningless creature, just like the libido of Kurt.

But the parallel can go beyond.

And like the mulatto needs to act like a black or like a white, depending by the situation, in the same way the libido of Kurt must be at different levels, to meet the expectations of the society.

And maybe of his girl.

 I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed 

 

Kurt in this lines, thought that all the things that he made in a good way, were made better by other people.

Think about the way this type of things happens, was a little depressed.

Is very normal that someone can do the things better that someone else.

The world is so big.

Was a little pretentious by Kurt.

Another thing that we can see is that he refer to the way he felt when he tried new things in his life.

At the first, he was fascinating and excited by do the novelty, but when he starts to be more confident, he looses all the interest for the new things.

 Our little group has always been
And always will until the end 

 

This is a continuation of the last words.

Like him, the band too have the same problems.

Nirvana are not the best band of the world ( at his eyes), and there are a lot of great bands that he thinks are better of them.

But this type of feeling is not good for him.

 And I forget just why I taste
Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile 

 

The just a taste feeling is referring to the use of drugs.

The first time and that way to think about it, like if you can take control about the situation.

Kurt tells multiple times that he like drugs, especially heroin.

He say that with drugs he stay better.

 I found it hard, it’s hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind 

 

What is that is hard to find?

Drugs. Maybe the first time. Or a way to go out of them?

But the end of this lines are clear.

Kurt don’t wants to fight.

That nevermind that give the title to the full album was a statement.

A big statement about the way he feel that all the society don’t want what he have do say.

A total nihilistic way to act.

 A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial, a denial
A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial. 

 

The denial of an entire generation that don’t want responsibility and that want to live only a simple life.

And to get this things, he can start to use drugs, and falling down with depression.

Conclusion

Here is served the history of music. Sometime someone tells that this words are a joke, and some maybe can be a joke.

But the unconscious can filter. Always.

And tell to us that the soul of Kurt Cobain was always sad, and angry for the way the things went for him and for that generation.

Ironically, was the right way to make Smells like teen spirit an icon of that times.

Leave a comment or a different vision of the meaning of this song if you want.

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