Juliana Hatfield: “Nirvana”
Despite the fact that Nirvana never wrote a song called “Juliana Hatfield,” the reverse was in fact true. Juliana Hatfield, former lead singer of the Blake Babies, recorded today’s song, “Nirvana,” for her debut solo album, Hey Babe, in 1992. And it’s not merely about “nirvana,” the blissful state of being; one listen to the lyrics and you realize she was apparently quite a fan of the band’s music:
When that sound comes around and goes in my ears
I can do anything I have no fears
Now, here comes the song I love so much
Makes me wanna go fuck shit up
I got Nirvana in my head
I’m so glad I’m not dead
Of course, I’m pretty sure there were many of us back in the early ’90s who had a similar reaction to listening to Bleach (which she was apparently obsessed with when it came out) and Nevermind — most of us just didn’t go and write a song about it. But Juliana clearly had a very visceral reaction to hearing Nirvana’s first album, and not only did it inspire the lyrics, but the instrumentation for this song is also the heaviest on the album, with crunching guitars that wouldn’t have been too out of place on an actual Nirvana album. It helped to carry Hey Babe into more solid territory, as Hatfield’s voice was at its most 14-year-old-girl-like at the time (despite the fact that she was 25), so she really needed tougher instrumentation to balance it out. It’s an excellent album overall, highlighting Hatfield’s natural knack for a great melodic hook, but nothing rocked as hard as this song.
As an aside, if you haven’t thought about Juliana Hatfield since her crest in popularity in the early to mid-’90s, and thought she didn’t do anything worthwhile since then, think again: her voice continued to mature, and she has released many albums since then. In fact she’s been putting out really excellent stuff in the past decade or so, following a bit of inconsistency around the turn of the millennium. In other words: if you ever liked her then, go check her out now — you won’t be disappointed.