The record was replete with references to babies, childbirth, and reproduction (the album's very title means "in the womb"), witch hunts, the loss of privacy, illness and disease, and ambivalence about fame. The songs expressed a heartfelt anguish that would later cause some to interpret the entire album as a cry for help, but even at the time of its release In Utero
could easily be read as an album focused on physical and spiritual sickness. Rather than being overwhelmed by circumstances, however, Cobain's songs on In Utero
show him - for the most part - still able and willing to fight back. As such, among Nirvana's recorded efforts, it stands as Cobain's most personal work.
Instead of sticking to the "grunge pop" formula that made Nevermind so palatable to the mainstream, with In Utero Nirvana chose instead to challenge their audience, producing an album that truly matched Kurt Cobain's vision of what he had always wanted the band to sound like.
Gillian G. Gaar is the author of She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock'n'Roll and Rebels With a Cause: The Story of Green Day. She served as project consultant on the Nirvana box set With the Lights Out, and was an editorial assistant on Krist Noveselic's book Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy.
33 1/3 is a new series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years. Focusing on one album rather than an artist's entire output, the books dispense with the standard biographical background that fans know already, and cut to the heart of the music on each album. The authors provide fresh, original perspectives - often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums. By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music.
©2006 Gillian G. Gaar; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.