My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Dec 16

Old Age

Nirvana songs are great because nothing Kurt Cobain ever wrote is particularly straightforward, there’s lots of room for interpretation. He never really told a story word for word, he liked to mix his true ideas with random thoughts or lines of poetry. On a Plain is a good example of this technique. Lately though, I’m really fascinated by Old Age. It’s an outtake song found in two box-sets, With the Lights Out and Sliver: The Best of the Box. The song’s so interesting because it sounds spectacular, but it seems practically incomprehensible. Kurt mumbles his way through it, and google-searching the lyrics doesn’t bring back consistent results. It took some doing, but I think I found a reliable version

I like listening to it, trying to crack it. To me, it’s a song about a losing battling with addiction, that last fix that can’t ever be the last. I’ve felt that struggle, the idea that this fix will make today feel safe so I can get to tomorrow, then maybe tomorrow I won’t need it.

I think that’s true of liquor, drugs, sex, a lover whispering in your ear, coffee, anything that turns off constant noise. I think life is just series of fixes, all the little things we need today to get to tomorrow. We all have different levels of noise, and how much we can take. Our fixes might not be the same, sometimes they’re ultimately destructive, but a life without fixes breaks. We replace the fixes we lose, try to drop the ones that hurt, that’s how we keep going.


3 Comments so far

  1. Preston Craig December 17th, 2008 12:41 am

    I’m not sure when I stopped really looking, but at some point I completely stopped looking at the actual lyrics for a song. If I could understand them, that was one thing. If I couldnt and I really loved the song, I intentionally avoided looking up the actual lyrics.

    In the end it was less about what they were actually saying and more of how it came across. A song ended up having a special personal meaning to me and I had a unique understanding of that song. Sometimes having it all spelled out for me sometimes ruined the song.

    Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” being a song that comes across entirely different from what the lyrics are actually talking about.

    Maybe I’ve always been into the music more than the poetry…

  2. Will December 17th, 2008 10:53 am

    I love it when I get the lyrics wrong and find out they were completely the opposite meaning of what I assumed they were. Even better; when someone who knows the right lyrics catches me singing them wrong.

    All this talk of Fixes makes me think….I can’t believe I’m saying this…..of Britney Spear’s song “Toxic”. Her only good song IMO. Which of course she didn’t write most likely (how could she? It’s good). An ex told me once she secretly rewatched the video late at night buzzed and thought of me to it, so that’s why I even know the song.

    There’s a YouTube video of Kurt telling a german reporter about lyric writing and how he liked to mix meaning and nothingness for the listener to make up their own meaning and think; maybe you saw that already; I’ll try and find the link if not…

    Do you not like it if people call you Mike instead of Michael?

  3. Ormolu December 17th, 2008 12:26 pm

    “I think life is just series of fixes, all the little things we need today to get to tomorrow.”

    I’m inclined to agree with you. That’s an interesting perspective, thank you for sharing it.