Saturday, October 20, 2018

Certain Songs #1347: Nirvana – “Drain You” | Medialoper

Album: Nevermind
Year: 1991

I got lucky: even though I didn’t buy Nevermind, until mid-December, 1991 I was early enough to not get a version with the “bonus” hidden track “Endless Nameless.”

On the balance, I always kinda hated the hidden tracks on CDs, often squirreled away several minutes after the album proper ended, meaning that if you wanted to listen to a CD over and over again, or had a multi-disc changer, there would be several minutes of silence between songs. And so while I appreciated the willingness to experiment with the format — Dramarama’s Hi-Fi Sci-Fi used the magic of the digital format to seamlessly spread a single song over several tracks — the reality is that the vast majority of these songs sucked.

Which makes sense: if they were good, they’d be part of the album proper, instead of an auditory irritant stuck on the end. And so, going back to Nevermind, it turned out to be an album that I would often put on repeat when I stumbled back to my Tower District apartment to try and get a few hours of sleep between the bars and work, and the silence followed by “Endless Nameless” crashing would have no doubt fucked with what little sleep I did get in 1992.

One baby to another says, “I’m lucky to have met you”
I don’t care what you think unless it is about me
It is now my duty to completely drain you
I travel through a tube and end up in your infection

“Drain You” just starts, Kurt Cobain singing the opening line over a single guitar, Kris Novoselic and Dave Grohl crashing in before the second line over a riff that feels like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in reverse. Meanwhile Kurt is singing his version of a love song, commenting on intimacy while Grohl just pummels the living fuck out of his snare drum.

Chew your meat for you
Pass it back and forth
In a passionate kiss
From my mouth to yours
I like you

“Drain You” is one of the more playful songs on Nevermind, with a second verse that is full of puns, love and bodily functions.

With eyes so dilated, I’ve become your pupil
You taught me everything without a poison apple
The water is so yellow, I’m a healthy student
Indebted and so grateful, vacuum out the fluids

After the second chorus, Grohl drops everything but his kick drum, and accompanied by Novoselic and various whooshing and beeping sound effects, Cobain creates tornadoes with his guitar until with a scream, they all crash together on the riff. It was striking even for an album where the the closest thing to a conventional guitar solo was playing the melody line of the song, and was one of the things that set “Drain You” off from the rest of the songs.

“Drain You”

“Drain You” live in Seattle, 1991

“Drain You” live at Reading, 1992

“Drain You” live in France, 1994

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