Revisiting Patti Smith’s heartfelt cover of Nirvana song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
Back in 2007, Patti Smith decided to strip back Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and put her own spin iconic song.
Smith’s version of the song, which featured as a standout moment of her tenth studio album Twelve, sat proudly among a selection of other cover songs as the punk poet paid tribute to some artists that she holds dearly.
Smith has made no secret of her admiration of the late Kurt Cobain throughout the latter stages of her career and, in 1996, released the song ‘About A Boy’ as part of a direct tribute to the Nirvana frontman.
“When Nirvana came out, I was really excited,” Smith once told Rolling Stone. “Not so much for myself – my time had passed for putting so much passion into music and pinning my faith on a band. I’d had the Rolling Stones.
“I was happy for the kids to have Nirvana. I didn’t know anything about Kurt’s torments or personal life. I saw the work and the energy, and I was excited by that. It was a tremendous shock – quite a blow to me – when he died.”
With her version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Smith decided to pick up Cobain’s work and swirl it around in her moody, dark folk world of creativity. At one point, Smith breaks from the formula and adds in her free-flowing poetry to compliment Cobain’s lyrics.