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Music Monday: Nirvana – Lithium (Live at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards)

Welcome to my first Music Monday of 2020!  After posting a musically themed book review to close out last week, I felt inspired to look up a number of songs and performances that were prominently featured by the author.  One of the most interesting of these to me personally was Nirvana’s performance of Lithium at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.

Before getting into the video, let me set the scene.  To fully appreciate this, there are probably three things to explain before we get to the clip.

The Intro: Prior to the taping, the band was warned by network executives not to play their controversial (and occasionally misunderstood) new song titled Rape Me.  Critically hailed as a powerful, defiant, and unflinching song against rape and sexual violence, the network wanted no part of it on their watch.  At Kurt Cobain’s insistence they opened the set with a taunt before playing a more popular song.

Bass to the Head: Astute viewers will see bassist Krist Novoselic absolutely bean himself after throwing his bass up in the air towards the end of the song.  He would recall later: “I was not on my game – the only time I’ve ever dropped it was then in front of 300 million people.” At least he apparently got to enjoy some champagne with Queen guitarist Brian May afterwards.

Hi Axl!: Not to be lost amid the stage destruction portion of the song was (a very young!) Dave Grohl taking the mic to taunt Guns N’ Roses front man Axl Rose.  You can get a decent summary of that feud here but, briefly, the two bands shared some words before the show.

And that ends the preamble.  Without further ado,l gentlemen, Nirvana (many thanks to the original poster of the video below):