Aneurysm by Nirvana – Great B-Sides

The classic lineup of Nirvana – Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl – first recorded together on the first day of 1991. They ran through seven tracks, all captured in just one take. Cobain later added vocals to two of these songs and they were used as b-sides of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

‘Aneurysm’ is one of several Nirvana songs that references Cobain’s breakup with Tobi Vail, the drummer of Bikini Kill. From Nevermind, ‘Lounge Act’ and ‘Drain You’ are also about Vail. Vail also unwittingly inspired ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – she used a brand of deodorant named Teen Spirit,

There are two versions of ‘Aneurysm’ – the band later recorded another version for the rarities compilation Incesticide.

Even though it was never a single or featured on an album, ‘Aneurysm’ is one of Nirvana’s most popular songs. On a 2000 poll from BBC Radio 1, it was voted as the third-best Nirvana song, after ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Heart-Shaped Box’. There’s an iconic opening line – “come on over and do the twist” – and it’s one of the few Nirvana songs that approaches the rock anthem feel of its a-side.

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  1. About A Girl remains my favorite by them but I like this one…his voice in this one is tortured and great. I didn’t know it was that popular.
    I would say their MTV unplugged is one of the best unplugs ever done. He was probably the last real rock star.

  2. I never got too much into Nirvana and really only know a handful of their tunes. Their songs were always to cheerful!

    On a more serious note, “Aneurysm” is pretty good. It’s a bit reminiscent of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I also had no idea the latter was inspired by a deodorant brand!

    I think my favorite Nirvana recording is their haunting rendition of Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” from their “MTV Unplugged” album. Of course, it’s somewhat unsettling to know that five month later, Kurt Cobain took his own life.

    • The deodorant thing is a little indirect- his girlfriend used it, and her bandmate Kathleen Hanna scrawled that Kurt Cobain smells like teen spirit. He turned it into a song without realized it was about deodorant

    • You saw it live? That’s so cool – I was a bit young for them, although I remember a girl in my class getting upset when he passed.

  3. I love this song, it’s one of my Top Ten Nirvana tunes and I’ll often invite people to ‘come on over and shoot the shit’ a line which I read some uppity muppet recently cite as a ‘drug ritual’. Just goes to show that people will look for that in everything he did, I guess.

    • I’m sure half the drug references in pop music just go over my head, but that’s an odd one to pick out. Cult of Cobain I guess.

  4. They are strangely popular in light of the limited material they put out.

    I really like the David Bowie cover from unplugged.

    • They had one big song, and enough substance to back it up – I’ve never been a huge fan, but I like them.

      I like the Meat Puppets covers too – Lake of Fire!

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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

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