Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Nirvana Had Joy, Fun

There's a nice little article about "Seasons in the Sun" at Slate. He starts off talking about Nirvana:

With its outtakes, rarities, and B sides, the long-awaited Nirvana boxed set turned out to be the table scraps of a once-bountiful buffet. There is one moment, however, that's well worth seeking out: a ghostly rendition of the infamous pop hit "Seasons in the Sun." Fittingly, it comes at the end. A video clip from 1993 shows the trio struggling grimly with the song in a studio in Rio de Janeiro. Having switched roles—Kurt Cobain on drums, Dave Grohl on bass, Krist Novoselic on guitar—their funereal seriousness might reflect their lack of skills on unfamiliar instruments. It's more tempting, though, to believe that impossibly maudlin tune is hitting them right in the gut.

For those of a certain age, Terry Jacks' 1974 chart-topper "Seasons in the Sun" remains an unsurpassed nadir of pop music. There was, to be sure, stiff competition at the time—Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)," Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods' "Billy, Don't Be a Hero." During those mid-Watergate weeks and months, the whole country seemed eager to wallow in tuneful misery. "We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun/ But the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time," sings Jacks, puckering up on every syllable. The singer addresses his friend, his father, and his lover as he prepares to die of unspecified causes—assuming, that is, that "too much wine and too much song" isn't a diagnosis. In his epic bad-song survey, Dave Barry put "Seasons in the Sun" in a class of its own, and voters emphatically agreed. Yet Nirvana is hardly the only band to cover the tune—there's been a recent revival of sorts. If it's so universally despised, then why does this song refuse to die?
The writer goes on to talk about the history of the song, which is pretty interesting, and he mentions all the covers of the song, some straight (John Doe), some ironic (Blink-182). I don't have anything interesting to add, so read the article!

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