MTV: Unplugged In New York, remastered


Juve Angulo and Ryan Daniels

In November of 1993, MTV hosted the grunge band Nirvana on their show MTV: Unplugged in a special striped back acoustic set in New York City. Even before the performance, Kurt Cobain, the groups front man, was very close to canceling the appearance because the set list didn’t contain any smash hits from the group, and six of them were covers. Nirvana was at their peak in those years, and this unplugged performance had only boosted their relevance even further, as this performance has been widely been cited to being among some of the best live performances of all time. Pitchfork even gave it a 9.5/10 which is a very rare occurrence.

The album opens with the crowd cheering on the song About a girl, with Cobain stating “This is off our first record. A lot of people don’t know it,” but after Cobain strums the guitar for the first time, the crowd instantly recognizes the song.

The second track Come as You Are is another crowd pleaser, with it’s instantly recognizable soothing, yet eerie bass guitar opening. This acoustic rendition of the normally explosive song was surprisingly pulled off very well. The scratchy electric guitar and manic drumming is easily exchanged for tame a acoustic guitar and almost blues type drumming.

The fourth track the Man Who Sold the World is an amazing cover of David Bowie’s song of the same name and is definitely a standout in the track list. The bass guitar sounds crisp, Pat Smear, who was touring with the band at the time, backs up Cobain with an electric guitar played so precisely, you could practically hear the crowd’s jaws drop. This cover is so well done, it is seen as the superior version of the song.

The fifth track Pennyroyal Tea gives off slow moody vocals while keeping the band’s definitive grunge sound. The unnerving whine of Cobain’s vocals and cries throughout the track prove it to show to self-loathing take on drinking pennyroyal tea.

The sixth track Something In The Way describes Cobain’s time of homelessness and vulnerability, to which his friends and family deny ever happening. The track itself shows Cobain to be hopeless and accepting of his fate under a bridge, and through repetion and emotion describing the perspective of Cobain during this experience. It should also be noted that this bridge exists across the Wishkah River, in Washington and has been decorated as a result of the band’s song.

The twelfth track Lake Of Fire shows the controversy behind heaven and angels. Originally written by Meat Puppets, the guitar chords and plucks develop into an intense story around, much like one that would be told at a campfire. Pat Smear’s guitar oozes into your brain with a sense of confidence and acceptance. You want to be sad, but instead you find yourself strolling along with the overloaded snares.

All Apologies, the thirteenth track off the album, is a familiar tune amongst the listeners of Nirvana. A key difference between the studio version and the Unplugged version, is the use of a cello. The sad, weary tone of the song is the result of a hidden apology between his daughter Frances Bean Cobain, and his wife Courtney Love. His voice throughout the track becomes haunting, as each tune screams his flaws.