Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl made rock history with Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic in Nirvana. While he openly admits that he would be nowhere without the group, explaining how it made him the man he is today, the death of Kurt Cobain has left an immovable scar on Grohl that will never dissipate. There’s one song, in particular, that the Foo’s singer couldn’t bare listening to for a whole decade.
The song in question is ‘You Know You’re Right’, a number that the band recorded in 1994, but would never be released whilst the group were still active. The song is the final track that the trio ever recorded, and Nirvana never intended it to appear on any project. The band planned to return to Lang Studios in Seattle to pick up where they left off after their European Tour had ended, but Kurt’s tragic death would stop Nirvana, and the song reminds Grohl of this torturous time when his dear-friend was struggling.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2019 about the track, he revealed: “I listened to it for the first time in 10 years [recently]. Oh God, it’s hard to listen to. It was not a pleasant time for the band. Kurt was unwell. Then he was well. Then he was unwell. The last year of the band was tough. By the time we got to Europe, I remember it being cold. It was the first time I felt depression. There was one day where I couldn’t get out of bed. I started to question why we were even there.”
“You look back on [the song] and you read it through a different lens. Lyrically, it’s heartbreaking,” he pontificated. “He was in a place we may not have recognised. Musically, there’s something cathartic. You know, I miss his voice. I miss him. I don’t think he was comfortable in the place that he was at the time. I don’t know if anybody was. But his experience was much different. I used to think it sounded like he was singing the chorus. Now I listen to it and it’s like he’s wailing.”
In another interview with GQ, Grohl opened up further about his difficulties in the immediate aftermath of Kurt’s death. “For years I couldn’t even listen to any music, let alone a Nirvana song,” the Foo Fighters great admitted. “When Kurt died, every time the radio came on, it broke my heart. I don’t put Nirvana records on, no. Although they are always on somewhere. I get in the car, they’re on. I go into a shop, they’re on. For me, it’s so personal,” Grohl added.
‘You Know You’re Right’ would remain unreleased for several years. Grohl and Novoselic had no plans to release the track without Kurt, but after a version of it somehow leaked on the internet, they decided to include it on Nirvana’s Greatest Hits in 2002. It’s a strong effort; however, even knowing as a fan what Kurt was going through at that time makes it a challenging listen, let alone if you were amongst it like Grohl was and the memories that flood back when he listens to the track.
Whilst the final days of Nirvana and the time following would be the most arduous period of Grohl’s life, those highs and lows he went through with Nirvana created memories that he wouldn’t change for the world. These hard times and the loss of a cherished friend changes you as a person. It’s easy to understand why it remains nearly impossible for Grohl to listen to ‘You Know You’re Right’ without being able to differentiate the fine art from the dark memories attached to the song.