|Label DGC Records|
Producer(s) Butch Vig
|Writer(s) Kurt Cobain|
|Released September 24, 1991 (Nevermind)|
Recorded June 1991 at Sound City, Van Nuys and Devonshire, North Hollywood
Length 3:52 (20:37 with "Endless, Nameless")
"Something in the Way" is a song by American rock band Nirvana and written by its frontman Kurt Cobain. It is the final song on their 1991 studio album Nevermind (without counting the secret track included on most CD editions of the album, "Endless, Nameless").
Origins and composition
It was thought that "Something in the Way" was written during a time in which its author, singer Kurt Cobain, was homeless and allegedly slept underneath a bridge in his native town, Aberdeen, Washington. This myth, propagated by Cobain, was refuted in 2001 with the publication of his biography Heavier than Heaven, written by Charles Cross, who affirmed that if Cobain really had spent nights underneath the bridge mentioned in the song, he would have been in danger of being swept away by the tide of the Wishkah River. In fact, Cobain had passed his time sleeping at the houses of his friends, where he also left his possessions in cardboard boxes during daytime. He also allegedly slept in waiting rooms of hospitals in the town. However, Cobain did hang out at the bridge; In Michael Azzerad's book Come As You Are, Cobain stated he used to catch fish from the river, which may have inspired one of the song's lyrics 'its okay to eat fish, cos' they don't have any feelings'. In Heavier Than Heaven, both Krist Novoselic and Kim Cobain confirmed that whilst it was unlikely that Cobain slept there, it was a popular recreation area for local teenagers; which Cobain undoubtedly attended on occasion.
"Something in the Way" was written in 1990 by Cobain, and it was performed by him for the first time on November 25, 1990 at The Off Ramp Café in Seattle. In 2017, to mark what would have been Kurt Cobain's 50th birthday, the Phonographic Performance Limited released a list of the top twenty most played Nirvana songs on the TV and radio in the UK in which "Something in the Way" was ranked at number seventeen.
According to Nevermind's producer Butch Vig, Cobain had originally wanted to record "Something in the Way" with the full band, but when initial attempts at this proved unsuccessful, Cobain sat down and played the song for Vig by himself, to show him how he thought it should sound. Vig was impressed with the way Cobain's solo rendition sounded, and after having the air conditioner and all telephones turned off in the control room of the studio, proceeded to set up microphones and record the song the same way, with Cobain singing and playing guitar.
This became the core of the track; drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic added their parts later, though both had some difficulties with the relatively slow timing of the song. Novoselic also had trouble tuning his bass to Cobain's guitar (a rickety old 12-string Stella acoustic strung with 5 nylon guitar strings which barely stayed in tune) and Grohl was forced to repress his natural inclination to pound on the drums, in order to match the song's gentle mood. On the final day of the Nevermind sessions, Kirk Canning, a friend of the band's, came in and completed the song with a cello line, though he too had difficulties tuning to Cobain's guitar.