In honor of what would have been Kurt Cobain's 47th birthday (Feb 20.), nearly 20 years after his death, the good folks at Diffuser made a list of the top 10 Nirvana songs. That's great and all but they chose three tracks from the band's classic, Nevermind. All of them were hit singles, all the while ignoring the astonshing "Drain You". The easiest way to avoid such egregious exclusions is to just accept that Nevermind as a whole, is untouchable.
In the interest of diversity, they tried to include tracks from every Nirvana album, including MTV Unplugged, which is not, technically, an album at all. It's admittedly extremely difficult to pare a list down to ten just from Nevermind and In Utero tracks alone. But waht about the non-album tracks, the real hidden gems? Here are the cream of the lesser known crop.
9 & 10. Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam/They Hung Him On a Cross
Everyone knows the "Unplugged" version of "Sunbeam" as well as the Lead Belly cover ("Where Did You Sleep Last Night?") that ended that show, but the posthumous boxed set, With the Lights Out, offers a good quality band rehearsal of the Vaselines' song, as well as another Lead Belly cover. Along with members of the Screaming Trees, Cobain croons another tale about Jesus in the very folky "They Hung Him On a Cross".
Honorable mention: "Spank Thru" from Sub Pop 200.
8. You Know You're Right
The last Nirvana song is also one of their best. The old quiet-loud-quiet dynamic is back in full effect in "You Know You're Right". Thankfully, this version came out on the "greatest hits' release, otherwise we would have been stuck with Hole's subpar version from their own Unplugged special. It's a bit heartbreaking knowing that, even though Cobain supposedly claimed to be done with Nirvana, there was still so much promise.
5 & 6. Aneurysm and Even In His Youth
Both songs were "Smells Like Teen Spirit" b-sides. Good enough to be on any other album, they had the misfortune to be recorded in the Nevermind sessions. "Aneurysm" bridges Nevermind to In Utero, in a way, with its slick production and its uneasy intro and outro. "Even In His Youth" is totally one speed and juvenile and great.
3 & 4. Molly's Lips and Son of a Gun
All respect to previous entry, "Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam", but the band had two better Vaselines covers. Both were originally released on the Australian EP, Hormoaning, and later on the b-sides collection, Incesticide, they can't possibly be listed separately. "Molly" is just two chords, one set of lyrics repeated, and harmonies. Simple and spectacularly effective. "Son" is the mostly the same but yet, somehow, totally different. Both are amazing.
Whether you call it "Sappy" or "Verse Chorus Verse", the only thing for sure is that this isn't just one of the best non-album tracks by Nirvana, it's a legit top 10 overall. Left off of In Utero, presumable because it's too catchy, it ended up on the AIDS benefit album, No Alternative, as a secret track. That album might have sold more if "Sappy" was track one.
Before Nevermind changed the pop music landscape in 1991, Sub Pop Records released this single from their departing band. "Sliver" is one of few Nirvana songs that really features Krist Novoselic's bassline. This is one of the greatest non-album tracks ever by any band. Upon hearing it, try getting "Gramma take me home" out of your head. It can't be done.