Nirvana – Lithium (Single)

May 13, 2006

My favorite band has always been Nirvana, and I always get slammed for that. I like it for the memories, the artistic nature, the tunes, the words, etc. But the problem is, the radio killed them. They didn’t really sell out, because anyone who knows what that means knows that they would have to deliberately contribute to their popularity and purposefully and knowingly try to make themselves liked by everybody. Anyone who truly knows Nirvana knows this never happened.

The band only had three studio albums. Then there were two live albums, an album of B-Sides, and many EPs, bootlegs, and box sets. Beyond that, we have singles. And the Lithium single is still one of the most respectable singles the band ever released, even if it only has a few songs on it.

What is a single supposed to do anyway? Well, it promotes sale of the album. So if someone hears the song on the radio and likes it, they can buy the single and will hopefully be convinced later on to buy the album. And making a single also means the lead song has to be really good, and the single will promote radio play, which will also promote the album a lot. But the single also has to have some incentive for fans to actually buy the single, beyond the fact that it is material that the band released. So there is usually a B-Side or two, some interesting cover art, and maybe some cool liner notes to boot.

In this way, Lithium delivers on just about every level. Lithium was destined to be a staple of rock radio, and it deserved a single of it’s own. It really encompasses the carefree attitude of the 90s pretty well, and despite the grim lyrics, it’s a happy song. You just kind of have to let it go, and drift off a little. Or have an image in your head. Just don’t concentrate too much on the actual music. Be busy while you are listening to this song. Anyway, it’s a solid track and enough reason for someone who doesn’t know Nirvana too well to buy the single.

Then we have a live version of Been A Son. The song was released on the bands B-Side collection Incesticide around the same time, but to be honest with you, this may be better than the studio version. You will always find many versions of the song floating around, and many live versions too. But this live take just really packs a punch. The band is clearly in good condition here, and cranking the song out at a very comfortable pace. Kurts vocals are great here too. This is probably going to be the incentive for fans to buy the album, just because the take is so good.

Curmudgeon has floated around elsewhere a few times, but I think it appeared first on this single. Fans can tell you that the bands B-Sides can really get to be a personal thing. Each fan has favorites. This isn’t a unanimously liked or hated track, but in my opinion, it is really good. It’s got a swirling heavy guitar part, and the Krist Novaselich on bass supports it and Dave Grohls crashing drums keep up perfectly. Of course, casual fans probably won’t understand this one right away, but more persistant fans will flat out love it. It is probably one of my favorite of Nirvanas B-Sides. Kurt Cobains words are nothing short of poetry here.

And then there are some other goodies that come with the single. Fans will probably find the mildly disgusting images on the front and back covers of the single amusing. And even better is the fact that in the liner, we have the complete lyrics from Nevermind, which is actually a great treat, because the release of Nevermind showed no actual lyrics sheets. Well, there was a little blurb of some of the albums lyrics, but they were warped, changed, and scattered. A lot of people complain about Kurt Cobain being unintelligible, so the lyrics sheet will also really give fans a treat.

I got my copy of this CD-single by chance at Best Buy for less than ten dollars. Considering the single was released about fifteen years ago, finding it in this day and age at a Best Buy is pretty amazing. You could probably get a much better price at amazon if you check some alternative outlets from the page of the actual product. New could be as little as around five, and used could be less than two dollars. It’s a great deal, especially for fans. Well worth picking up, for sure.


  1. Yeah, Kurt Cobain was the greatest song writer of his generation by a country mile, and Lithium is probably my favourite of all of his songs.

    Nirvana are one of the few bands that I don’t think I’ll ever become bored of, and although it’s become a pretty disposable comment nowadays, I think that their work embodies true genius.

  2. I love All Apologies

  3. Kurt Kobane was a genius. Though he suffered from depression and his death is still contreversial dosent matter, though people use it to down grade and be little him. Kurt Kobane was was a reluctant speaker of his generation and did a hell of ajob. RIP

  4. Kurt cobain is the best vocalist in the world and his tunes are a great tribute to music.

  5. Nirvana definitly was the best

  6. i miss you “kurt cobain”

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