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Smells Like Teen Spirit

From the 1991 album Nevermind

This is the song that introduced me to grunge all those years ago, in the early nineties. Kurt Cobain's clean strummed-guitar introduction is soon invaded by distortion and Dave Grohl's thumping drums. In a similar vein, the verses are quiet and the choruses are loud, a common Nirvana formula (repeated, for example, in Rape Me and Pennyroyal Tea, amongst others). Cobain's rasping vocals scream the choruses and by the end of the song you're amazed that he hasn't lost his voice (he probably nearly has). Though the song is punky and heavier than a typical chart topping track, it is catchy and in some ways something of a pop song.

Whilst we've all heard this song way too many times over the years, it's worth remembering its impact when it first came out. The track was accompanied by a video in which the band play in a high-school gymnasium - Nirvana appear unkempt & rough around the edges, with dirty looking long hair, and distinctly out of place in a venue usually dominated by jocks. It was a look that was to be copied by many a teenager at the time. Nirvana helped establish grunge and the Seattle music scene with this song and definitely considers it to be one of the greats! guitar notes:

This song is fairly easy to play on guitar and is often one of the first songs a novice learns when they get their bar chords down. But a note of caution: watch out for Kurt Cobain's unique style of playing bar chords. He typically intends to play just the lowest 3 notes of the chord but often catches some of the higher strings which may not be "correct" (since his fingering often isn't) - creating a slightly dissonant but cool sound.

Probably the hardest aspect of the track is the snappy rhythm. It sounds easy but needs to be played with quick strokes across all the strings, or the effect is lost. The solo is easy but again keep an ear out for Cobain's style and use of bends, vibrato and effects.
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