Nirvana’s legendary Unplugged in New York has never really had the chance to be evaluated outside of the canonization of Kurt Cobain that followed his entry into the “27 Club.” It’s admittedly hard to hear him sing lines like “I swear I don’t have a gun.” and “Don’t expect me to die,” without thinking about what would tragically follow, only four months after the performance.
But on the 20th anniversary of the song set’s airing, it’s worth considering the performance as a work of music, not mythology. Because as music, it’s incredible. The band run through a tense and brilliant 14-song set in one scintillating take, something unusual at the time for the popular MTV series, and the result is one of the greatest live albums ever—an unforgettable document of raw tension and artistic genius.
Read more. [Image: MTV]
I remember a few years ago, it was actually in Oregon—I think it was Eugene—I was standing outside the club, it was a youth center or something, and there were a bunch of kids and stuff, and I heard some girl telling her friend: ‘Who’s playing?’ ‘I think it’s some Nirvana cover band.’ And I’m sure half the crowd thinks we’re doing Nirvana covers when we play those [Meat Puppets songs we did on ‘Unplugged’].