Without Nirvana the music world would be a whole different space. Nirvana’s Nevermind was released in 1991, which catapulted to the top of the charts almost immediately.
In a story relayed by Lanegan’s onetime Queens of the Stone Age cohort Nick Oliveri, he revealed that Lanegan had supposedly contributed lyrics to “Something In the Way” off Nirvana’s game changing record, a song that while it wasn’t one of the big four singles it is arguably one of the stand out songs and this writers favourite Nirvana track.
Oliveri spoke with Lanegan author Greg Prato, explaining the story of how Lanegan and Kurt Cobain came to work together and why the Screaming Trees vocalist didn’t take a credit.
“Mark said he wrote some lyrics on ‘Something in the Way’ with Kurt on Nevermind,” Oliveri explained, as shared by Consequence. “But Kurt had played on some of Mark’s solo stuff, The Winding Sheet. So, instead of getting paid, they just did this thing where, ‘Hey man, I added a lyric on your song and you added a lyric on my song. Let’s just call it even. Whatever happens, happens.’ Little did Mark know, if he would have had publishing on ‘Something in the Way’ on Nevermind, he would have had a lot of money. I remember him kicking himself in the butt a little bit about that – ‘If I had that ‘Something in the Way’ publishing…’”
Lanegan’s The Winding Sheet was released in May of 1990, and actually features Cobain on “Down in the Dark” as well as a cover of the folk song “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” For the latter, Cobain played guitar, while Krist Novoselic played bass, and a song Nirvana later covered “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” as well.
Meanwhile, Nirvana’s Nevermind album shot to No. 1 and is diamond certified in the U.S. for over 10 million copies sold. And while “Something in the Way” was never issued as a single, it actually charted in 2020 after it was featured in a trailer for the film The Batman. Then, in 2022, around the time of the movie’s release, it hit No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Apparently it’s not the only time Lanegan missed what might have been a windfall courtesy of his friendship with Cobain. Elsewhere, it’s revealed in the book that Courtney Love had offered the unreleased version of Nirvana’s “You Know You’re Right” to the Screaming Trees to record following Cobain’s death. But according to Lanegan’s Screaming Trees bandmate Gary Lee Conner in the book, Lanegan couldn’t bring himself to sing the song after the death of Cobain.
Conner revealed that this was during the period they were working on their Dust album, which was released in 1996, two years after Cobain’s death. “We learned it, but we never recorded it,” reveals Conner. “We learned it without Mark, and Mark came down to sing it, and he couldn’t. He changed his mind, and that was the end of that.”
“You Know You’re Right” eventually surfaced on the 2002 self-titled Nirvana hits collection, serving as the album’s lead single. It topped the Mainstream Rock, Active Rock and Alternative Airplay charts upon its release, while also crossing over and hitting No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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