Basically my ultimate favourite of a favourite...
1. Drain You
‘One baby to another says “I’m lucky to have met you”…’ I used to listen to this song on repeat so many times – rewinding the cassette in between – it may well be my most listened-to song in history. I can still see why, perfectly.
2. Heart-Shaped Box
The most romantic song ever written. End of.
3. About A Girl
The undoubted highlight of Bleach and just a classic, one of the best ever.
4. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
One of the wryest and cleverest lines ever, in my humble opinion – ‘I miss the comfort in being sad’ – is one I think about a lot. The all-round brilliant lyrics and more dissonant sound on much of In Utero come together perfectly here.
5. Son of a Gun
I know Incesticide wasn’t a ‘real’ album and this was a cover – but I really cannot overstate how joyous this song makes me feel.
I would hate just to pick a song because it was obscure, but this is the exception. That’s because I first heard it on Rough Tapes, Bleeding Years – an Italian bootleg that I bought from a stall on Camden market – and I was so thrilled there was something on there I’d never heard before, it made my year.
7. Love Buzz
Another cover and they didn’t want it to be their first single – it’s so unlike all their other stuff, it was hardly the Nirvana manifesto that KC had in mind – but it is a perfect single. You can see what Subpop were thinking – even though there is something very cute and kooky and un-Nirvana to it.
8. On A Plain
My second-favourite song from Nevermind and the best to sing along to. It’s also the prime example of KC’s fondness for clever lyrical wordplay (‘the black sheep got blackmailed again, forgot to put on the zip code’), which is one of my favourite elements of Nirvana songs, not to mention his well-hidden Beatles-esque ear for a harmony. And how can you not love a pop song with the chorus ‘I love myself better than you/I know it’s wrong but what can I do?’
9. Penny Royal Tea (Unplugged Version)
The Unplugged session was obviously one of the most beautiful things ever – a perfect set-list, and an elegiac tone to it that was stunning but makes it hard to watch now, knowing what would soon happen. I think this song benefited the most from the Unplugged treatment – it sounds so perfect and open-wound raw all at once, it’s heartbreaking and gorgeous.
10. Serve The Servants
My favourite Nirvana album is obviously In Utero and the opening chords of this song take me back to the excitement of listening to it for the first time, every time. ‘Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old…’ – a mission statement and a gem in its own right.