Despite being one of music’s biggest power couples during the early 1990s, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love largely kept out of each other’s business when it came to their day jobs.
There are unverified – and likely false – rumours that Cobain helped author a number of tracks on Hole’s breakthrough second album Live Through This, but it’s true that he did provide a few backing vocals throughout the album. Later, Love would play the Nirvana song ‘You Know You’re Right’ at Hole’s MTV Unplugged appearance in February of 1995. Other than those instances, Cobain and Love were two separate professional entities.
Well, except for a one-off acoustic performance at the Rock Against Rape benefit on September 8, 1993. Cobain jokingly inquires to the crowd if anyone knows any Jose Feliciano songs, while Love jokes about Cobain leaving her to marry Winona Ryder. The duo then dive into a version of ‘Pennyroyal Tea’ with Love on lead vocals, a song that would be released a week later when Nirvana released their third LP In Utero. The two harmonise perfectly, as both have strangled howls that compliment each other.
Cobain then takes the lead for a rendition of Lead Belly’s ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’. Cobain would later play the exact same song on the exact same acoustic guitar ten days later when Nirvana performed for MTV Unplugged. The rendition is less harrowing here than it is during Unplugged, but Cobain still manages to hit the final scream with an intensity that only he could produce. Love’s harmony is haunting, and the two let the final notes hang in the air before Love goes in for one last joke, calling the couple ‘Sonny & Cher’.
Check out the acoustic performance down below.