Saturday, January 18, 1992

Nirvana “Come As You Are” charted

Come As You Are


Writer(s): Kurt Cobain (see lyrics here)

Released: March 2, 1992

First Charted: January 18, 1992

Peak: 32 US, 19 CB, 21 GR, 20 RR, 3 AR, 3 MR, 9 UK, 27 CN, 25 AU, 9 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK, 1.88 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 589.5 video, 1029.64 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Nirvana exploded with their grunge anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the lead single from their 1991 sophomore album Nevermind. “Come As You Are” was released as the second single and while it couldn’t hope to replicate its predecessor’s iconic status, it became a top-3 hit on the Billboard mainstream rock and alternative rock charts and reached the top 40 on the pop charts. In 2019, Nielsen Music reported it was mainstream rock’s third most-played song of the decade. WK

There was some debate about what to release as the second single. Nirvana’s frontman, Kurt Cobain, was concerned about the similarities between “Come As You Are” and a song from 1984 called “Eighties” by Killing Joke. He preferred “In Bloom” but the record company won out, feeling like “Come As You Are” had more commercial potential. WK Killing Joke did, in fact, complain that the main guitar riff plagiarized their song, but didn’t file a copyright infringement lawsuit. WK The group reportedly decided not to sue after Cobain died. SF It has also been noted that the song has similarities to “Life Goes On” by the Damned, which predated “Eighties.” WK

Cobain said the song was about “people and what they’re expected to act like” WK but there was speculation that it was about heroin, with which Cobain struggled. The lyrics “come doused in mud, soaked in bleach” referenced an HIV prevention campaign in Seattle where addicts were told that if their needles were doused in mud then they should be sterilized by being soaked in bleach. WK

One of the frequent lines in the song is “I don’t have a gun.” It became eerily prescient of Cobain committing suicide in 1994 with a gunshot to the head. Mark Deming of suggests that in the song the line was Cobain’s way of declaring that he was unarmed, “it’s an attempt to reassure listeners that…his target is the world at large rather than the individuals in it, and that there was still room in this damaged world for everyone.” AMG


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First posted 7/21/2023.

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