Friday, October 12, 2018

Certain Songs #1341: Nirvana – “School” | Medialoper

Album: Bleach
Year: 1989

Look, I’m no better than the rest of you: after Nevermind took control of our lives, I went back and bought Bleach just like everybody else did. And in fact, I waited nine months after buying Nevermind before I bought Bleach — at Ragin’ Records, naturally — because I think I needed for the tidal wave to recede just a bit.

But, absent Dave Grohl, who provided a busload of hooks to Nevermind, and absent Cobain’s confidence to follow his poppier instincts, and absent any kind of production values — every penny of the $606.17 they paid Jack Endino was on the album, but not a penny more — most of Bleach never connected to me. There were exceptions of course: “About A Girl,” which felt completely different from the rest of the record, “Love Buzz,” of course, and the scary-ass “School,” which showed just what Kurt Cobain could do with just three lines.

With Cobain & Krist Novoselic locking in on a fuzzed-out circular riff and drummer Chad Channing trying desperately to make like John Bonham, Cobain gets our attention almost immediately:

Won’t you believe it? It’s just my luck
Won’t you believe it? It’s just my luck
Won’t you believe it? It’s just my luck
Won’t you believe it? It’s just my luck

And then, from the absolute depths of hell, wounded seemingly beyond recall or repair, while Channing does his best work on the entire album, he howls over and over and over.


And while later in the song, he chants “School’s” third line — “You’re in high school again” — a few times, going from affectless to a broken scream, it’s still “NO RECESS” that kills me.

What I love about this is that it’s both specific — apparently Cobain went back to his high school and became a janitor — and totally universal. No recess. No relief. No breaks. No stopping. Nothing but the constant ongoing flow of information over and over and over and over, world without end amen.

Yup, that’s right, nearly 30 years ago, Kurt Cobain wrote a song about Twitter.


“School” performed live in Seattle, 1991

“School” performed live in Reading, 1992

“School” performed live in 1993

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