Like many of our greatest songwriters, Kurt Cobain made a point of recording demo versions of his tracks in all their rough-shod glory – whether it was to show to his bandmates or perhaps simply to archive them. Here, we’ve got a collection of Cobain’s unreleased demos, some of which offer us an insight into what the supposed solo album he had in works might have sounded like if the singer hadn’t died by his own hand in 1994.
People often suggest that Cobain’s mythic solo album might have sounded a lot like his wife’s band, Hole. Indeed, his track ‘Old Age’ would later be taken up by Courtney Love and released by Hole in 1994 alongside ‘Violet’. Cobain wrote and recorded a demo for the song – which you can hear below – but he was ultimately unsatisfied with it and gave it to Love instead. Hole’s rendition sees Love weave Cobain’s doom-laden chord progression with the rich groanings of a harmonium as her nightingale vocals cut through the gloriously muddy textures with ease.
Below, you’ll also find a home demo of the surprisingly poppy ‘Do Re Mi’, which sees Cobain thrashing away at a steel-string acoustic in a way that’s strangely reminiscent of Rubber Soul era Beatles. The same goes for Cobain’s early demo for the In Utero track ‘All Apologies’, which, when played with solo acoustic guitar, sounds like something straight out of the West Coast jangle-psych songbook.
You’ll also find a couple of tracks that perhaps you’ve never heard before, including ‘Creation’, a home recording that Cobain made in the late 1980s using a 4-track recorder. While most of the tracks on this list feature just guitar and vocals, ‘Creation’ sees Cobain mix his vocals with a jittering bassline and erratic drum beat. The result brings to mind glitchcore tracks like Aphex Twin’s ‘Vordhosbn’.
The track is taken from the four CD bootleg set known as Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects. On that same record, you’ll find a selection of demo track’s from Cobain’s first band, Fecal Matter, which was formed with Dale Crover – who would later become the drummer for Melvins – in the pair’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington. Make sure you check out these are home demos below, you won’t regret it.