LIVE NIRVANA SESSIONS HISTORY September, 1989 - The Music Source, Seattle, WA, US View in Google Maps

    • Kurt Cobain (vocals, guitar)
    • Krist Novoselic (bass)
    • Chad Channing (drums)
  • Steve Fisk (producer, engineer)
  • [O] Stain
  • [O] Been A Son
  • [O] Even In His Youth
  • [O] Polly
  • [O] Token Eastern Song
  • Audio: 2-inch 24-track analog magnetic tape (session tape)
Source ID Quality Complete Runtime Lowest Gen Tracks Featured Notes
SBD #1 10.0 0:04:58 Official CD (Blew)
  • Been A Son
  • Stain
  • Mixed by Steve Fisk, 1989.
SBD #2a 7.5 0:09:32 ANA(X)>CDR
  • Even In His Youth
  • Polly
  • Token Eastern Song
  • Rough mixes by Steve Fisk, 1989. This source features a false start before Polly, lots of tuning noises and even some faint banter not found on other sources.
SBD #2b 8.0 0:02:22 ANA(2)>FLAC
  • Even In His Youth
  • Rough mix by Steve Fisk, 1989. Despite speed problems and a dropout, this source is of superior audio quality to SBD#2a.
SBD #3 10.0 0:09:09 Official CD (With The Lights Out)
  • Token Eastern Song
  • Even In His Youth
  • Polly
  • Mixed by Adam Kasper, 2004.

NIRVANA booked into The Music Source, intent on recording an EP to promote their forthcoming European tour. I think it was booked for three evenings and we may have done it in two, recalls producer, Steve Fisk. (1)

Channing's North drums were both a source of amusement and frustration for the producer, The smallest guy in the band had the biggest, stupidest drum set in the Northwest, cracks Fisk. The kick drum was held together with miles and miles of duct tape because the bass had been used as a hatchet to chop the kick drum in half. (2)

Indeed, the band's habit of trashing their gear at shows meant that Channing's decrepit drum set was just one of many obstacles Fisk had to equalize around, Krist had spent all day trying to get his bass amp together because it was all trashed from touring, Fisk remembers. There were two speakers and only one of them worked, and that didn't work that well. The bass was also fucked up. (3)

The band spent the first evening laying down the basic tracks. They didn't record 'em quick, Fisk recalls. They did a lot of trying it again. There was a little sort of medium tension, talking to each other in-between takes. (1)

We had a hard time getting the feel right to Polly at the beginning, explains the producer. They started it three times. They couldn't hold the tempo together with Chad playing the pulse on the cymbal. Chad was slipping and Kurt was finger picking. (3)

If they sounded lo-fi with Jack you figured it was the cheap gear, remarks Fisk. Once you're on the 24-track, what it plays back is theoretically what you've got. Maybe that's why Krist was trying so hard to get his bass together. (3)

Overdubs were added to Stain and Been A Son at a session the following week; twin guitar solos on Stain (Both equal volume, like squabbling hens, comments Fisk) and a bass solo on Been A Son (Which Krist never liked). (4) Cobain also double-tracked his vocals on the two songs, adding Total Lennon harmonies, right out of Rubber Soul to Been A Son. (2)

I think the idea was to finish the other ones at a later date, we just never got around to it, suggests Fisk, (1) noting that the instrumental break in Even in His Youth was supposed to be filled with a guitar solo, You can also hear that Kurt doesn't do the big screams, he holds back. (4)

Still, the band were satisfied with what they'd got on tape and the session came to a memorable conclusion, When Been A Son was done, Kurt and Krist asked, Can we dance on the tables? They jumped on one table, I jumped on another, and as we listened to the song, we rocked. I got to nail the mix and jump on the furniture with NIRVANA. (1)

Been A Son and Stain were duly included on the Blew EP. At one point, I made Sub Pop and NIRVANA some mixes of what the other stuff sounded like to see if they wanted to finish it or anything, recalls Fisk. I did the best I could to pull the scratch vocal into focus and make some mixes around that. But Kurt sings very quietly, so it wasn't useable. (1)

Fisk doesn't believe that any other outtakes were saved, They wanted to do everything as cheap as possible, so any corner we could cut, we would cut. That's how it was back then. (1)

  1. Gaar, Gillian G., 1997. Verse Chorus Verse: The Recording History Of Nirvana, Goldmine, [online] Available at:
  2. Azerrad, Michael, 1993. Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana. Doubleday.
  3. True, Everett, 2006. Nirvana: The True Story. Omnibus Press.
  4. Gaar, Gillian G., 2004. Mondo Nirvana, Tablet Siffblog, [online] Available at:

© Alex Roberts. Last modified: August 30 2022