Courtney Love has revealed some of Kurt Cobain’s working lyrics for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” while appearing on the latest episode of 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s, a podcast hosted by The Ringer’s Rob Harvilla.
During the interview (via The Line of Best Fit), Love spoke about how she used to push her late husband to up his game by buying him a Leonard Cohen lyric book before bringing out some of Cobain’s early lyrics for Nirvana’s breakout megahit. Explaining that some of the lines were published in Kurt’s journals and others were not, Love sang two versions of the lyrics a cappella.
The first begins with the following verse: “Come out and play/ Make up the rules/ I know I hope to buy the truth/ Who will be the king and queen of all the outcasted teens?” It then goes into a working version of the chorus: “We’re so lazy and so stupid/ Blame our parents and the cupids/ A deposit for a bottle/ Stick it inside, no role model.”
Meanwhile, the second take features a completely different verse: “We merge ahead, this special day/ This day giving amnesty to sacrilege/ A denial, and from strangers/ A revival, and from favors/ Here we are now, we’re so famous/ Here we are now, entertain us.”
30 years later, it’s hard to imagine “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with different lyrics, but Love said she likes the idea of what would’ve been a “world-breaking, world-shattering… alternate time continuum.” In particular, she wishes Cobain had kept the “king and queen of all the outcasted teens” line because it “would’ve helped my life a little bit better, taking on the shit that me and my daughter have.”
Check out the full episode below. Love’s discussion about the early “Smells Like Teen Spirit” lyrics begins around the two-hour mark.