Behind the Lyrics - "In Bloom"

 

Welcome to "Behind the Lyrics" with Elise Chandler. Each week, I find a song that I feel is understated both musically and lyrically, and I analyze it through several critical lenses. 

 

This week, we are looking at a famous song "In Bloom" by Nirvana. I know this song has been looked at a thousand times, but I still feel it is just such a cool song lyrically. It is very "aware" of itself in a way that a lot of songs are not. 

 

Just like last week, I feel this song is better if we look at the lyrics as a whole. So below, you will find the lyrics. Please give them a perusal before we continue. 

 

"Sell the kids for food
Weather changes moods
Spring is here again
Reproductive glands

He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say
He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say yeah

We can have some more
Nature is a whore
Bruises on the fruit
Tender age in bloom

He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say
He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say yeah

He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say
He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say yeah"

 

What is clever about this song is if you just read it (or listen to it) and don't think about it, it sounds like absolute gibberish. It makes no sense. You can't see heads or tails of it. However, it is when you start analyzing it that it all starts to come together. 

 

The first stanza matches the second stanza. They parallel each other. 

For example, the first line of both:

"Sell the kids for food"

"We can have some more" 

They are totally continuing the story. If you sell the kids for food, then you can either have 1) more food or 2) more children. The rest of the lines match this way too. 

 

Some would ague this is just a coincidence. There are plenty of grunge songs that make absolutely no sense (shout out to Pearl Jam). While that may be true, the chorus is the key here. 

 

"He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs

And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun

But he don't know what it means

Don't know what it means"

 

Nirvana is actually mocking those listeners who just like a song, but they don't actually know what it is saying. Sure, it may sound "pretty" or awesome, but it could have a terrible message or a beautiful one. The mocking part is emphasized by the double "Don't know what it means". 

 

Very, very clever, dear Nirvana. So next time we hear a song that songs like silliness, let's put on our detective hats and see the real message behind the pretty notes. Because isn't that what good music does? Until next time. 

 

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