Many of us at some stage will have had that hypothetical question about if you were stuck on a desert island what would you take with you. In a similar vein I will be sharing all the songs that I would put in my own personal jukebox, not necessarily to take to a desert island, you understand, but just the many songs that would make me sad should I never hear them again. In order to make things a little interesting I’m going to permit myself just one song from each group or singer, which will be something of a test but one I’ll embrace. I hope you enjoy some of my choices and would be intrigued to hear selections from your own personal jukebox, these days MP3s or Ipods, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me on this occasion.
Nirvana – Come As You Are (1991)
The third song on Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991), arguably the finest album ever recorded. Come As You Are was also the second single released in the UK and followed its more famous predecessor Smells Like Teen Spirit into the Top 10, quite an achievement for a style of music that wasn’t the most popular. After the welcome mixture of music in the 1980s I have often felt the 1990s to be largely awful with a handful of groups and singers unearthing diamonds amidst the rubble of the music charts.
My brother first got me interested in Nirvana. He had always planned to purchase Nevermind when it was released but I don’t recall hearing anything about Nirvana until a news headline reported the suicide of lead singer and guitarist, Kurt Cobain, in 1994. My brother finally bought Nevermind on cassette and listening to it I was first drawn to Come As You Are, while the masses tend to favour Smells Like Teen Spirit, which is a great song but not Nirvana’s magnum opus. That honour, for me, falls to Come As You Are and is followed closely by Heart-Shaped Box and Drain You.
Interpreting Come As You Are is difficult. I’ve often thought of it as the recognition of us all as equals, the phrase “come as you are” meaning don’t change anything just be yourself. Other elements of the song put this definition into question, the mention of “an old enemy” and the line “and I swear I don’t have a gun” could suggest something sinister from the past but now a need for peaceful co-existence. Other interpretations believe the song to be about drug use while many cannot resist mention of the gun in the song, the means by which Cobain killed himself. Whatever the definition this is a fabulous song from an amazing group that continue to resonate with fans, old and new, today.
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