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Lyrical analysis of "The Man Who Sold The World (David Bowie cover)" by Nirvana

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Oct 15, 2010
by: omedjid

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New York, 1994.

In what was Nirvana's last televised performance before the untimely death of frontman Kurt Cobain, they performed their cover of David Bowie's song, "The Man Who Sold The World" live for the "MTV Unplugged" series.  A song that was dear to Cobain, the lyrics contained many thought-provoking messages, those which could have lead to Cobain's suicidal tendencies.

"I gazed a gazeless stare, we walked a million hills
I must have died alone, a long long time ago"

In Cobain's suicide note, he proclaimed that the passion he had for the music business has "faded away", and that he doesn't feel the same as he did when he would perform for crows back in Nirvana's early days.  So why the choice of song?  Did he feel that it represented the core grunge scenes depiction of Nirvana "selling out" in the music business?  Though the Seattle area in the early 90's experienced a musical boom thanks to bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, many of Nirvana's old core fans that were around since the late 80's, felt that they have sold out, thus contributing to Cobain's performance of the aptly-titled, "The Man Who Sold The World".