Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 226
Mon. Sept. 30, 2013

“All Apologies (Steve Albini’s 2013 mix)”

1993; 2013

“♫ What
should I

Even more so than Scott Litt’s reworking of In Utero‘s climatic cut, I believe Kurt Cobain would have loved what Steve Albini did with his “2013 mix” of “All Apologies.” Unfortunately, Albini’s new mix from Nirvana’s Anniversary edition of In Utero that arrived 20 years too late and finally brought to life the sound that Cobain always wanted Nirvana to recreate. In the studio setting, former Big Black & punk pioneer and In Utero‘s producer Albini perfectly matched the string like beauty of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and the punkish intensity of John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey.”

It may at first seemed like a gamble to remix the last testament of Cobain and Nirvana but bassist Krist Novoselic found inspiration from listening to a posthumous collection of Jim Morrison’s former band The Doors as he explained to Exclaim when he said, “Y’know where I got the idea for it was listening to a Doors greatest-hits record. The Future Starts Now I think it’s called? So, I’m listening to these Doors songs that I’ve heard my whole life and those songs were mixed in 1970, 1969. They just remixed them and, if you’re a fan, you know what to listen for and you can hear things. That’s what gave me the inspiration to think, ‘Y’know, maybe we should do this with In Utero.’ If the Doors can do it, we can do it.” Far from being sacrilegious, the new “2013 mix” brings new elements to the original In Utero recordings that give the listener new perspective on the songs that would Cobain’s final word on his legacy as lead singer and principle songwriter of Nirvana.

In Jim Berkenstadt & Charles R. Cross’s book Nevermind: Nirvana, studio session drummer and friend of George Harrison and John Lennon, Jim Keltner spoke of the similarities between Cobain and Lennon when he said, “Kurt really reminded me a lot of John in his writing, singing and guitar playing. More attitude than technique, but he had incredibly string rhythm and a great solo sense. Nirvana is as good as anything produced in rock n’ roll; it was talking to me. I’d finally head a new band speaking to me from the past, present and future.”

While recording In Utero, Kurt lived through the same effects that Lennon experienced during the making of Plastic Ono Band, lyrically; “Apologies” echoes Cobain’s intense agony of his harrowing withdrawal from heroin. Musically, Nirvana’s cello strings reflect the orchestra crescendo and end of the world climax of Sgt. Pepper’s classic closing “A Day in the Life.” This new sonic revelation brought to life everything Cobain wanted Nirvana to sound like in the studio and on stage. Thanks to producer Steve Albini, Punk and Pop music bred the almost perfect offspring with his new “2013 mix” of In Utero‘s “All Apologies.”

Producer Butch Vig spoke of Cobain’s adoration of Lennon in Berkenstadt and Cross’s book Nevermind: Nirvana, when Vig explained, “[Kurt] loved John Lennon. So I know that he felt self conscious, coming from a punk background and having these kind of gorgeously crafted rock songs. Even though his songs might have been kind of noisy, they still had really beautiful melodies and melodic structure.”

In Utero‘s “All Apologies” should be remembered as Nirvana’s, or more specifically, Cobain’s last lyrical statement which musically can be heard as Kurt’s personal Plastic Ono Band. [Editor’s Note: Incidentally because of the raw personal nature of “Apologies” even Lennon would agree that In Utero‘s climatic song would have fit on John’s first solo album.] “Apologies” mirrors Lennon’s most infamous cut “God” which reflected John’s lack of belief in The Beatles anymore. During the In Utero era of his most famous band, Cobain was also losing faith in the Nirvana sound that made Kurt, like Lennon was in the sixties and seventies, the reluctant spokesman of his generation.

In Paul Brannigan’s book This is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl, the Nirvana drummer and now leader of Foo Fighters spoke candidly about Kurt and the parallels between Cobain and Lennon when Grohl explained, “Reading John Lennon interviews you can see how he was so conflicted, how he was such a massive tangled ball of contradiction, how he was searching and confused and passionate and a genius. And in reading a lot these interviews, personally, I see a lot of similarities [with Kurt]. […] there are some similarities in those two personalities that made for some great contradictions and it’s really complicated to figure them out. Did Kurt want to be considered the greatest songwriter in the world? I think he did.”
Cobain’s final legacy was sealed in his final lyrical fade out phrase of “♫ all in all is all we are.♫” Kurt’s words were the perfect sixties-esque slogan made for the 90’s Slacker/Generation X. Cobain’s closing axiom would have made his idol the former leader of The Beatles grin in approving admiration. Thanks to Steve Albini’s “2013 mix” of In Utero‘s climax “All Apologies,” matches the timeless beauty of “A Day in the Life” and the punk esthetic of “Cold Turkey.” In the book Guitar Gods: The 25 Players who Made Rock History, author Bob Gulla talks about the struggle Cobain had trying to craft dynamic pop inspired sensibilities into Nirvana punk songs when he wrote, “Cobain loved pop music, too and this assault was tempted by his affection for The Beatles and their melodies. Nevermind producer Butch Vig remembers Cobain playing John Lennon’s ‘Julia” repeatedly at those recording sessions. This dichotomy, dividing his passions for punk, hard rock, and pop music, is found at the center of Nirvana’s distinctive craft.”

Released almost twenty years after his untimely death, this 2013 mix of In Utero reflected Kurt’s pop primal scream genius that faded out before Cobain could live to experience his final genius musical statement finally accepted to the elite songwriting class of his hero John Lennon. Relive the eternal greatness that is “All Apologies” again by acquiring Steve Albini’s illuminating 2013 mixes inside of the 20th Anniversary edition of Nirvana’s In Utero. Available at all online music stores and any vintage record shops near you.
Lennon Cobain