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About A Girl by Nirvana

Album: BleachReleased: 1989Charted:
  • Kurt Cobain wrote this for his girlfriend at the time, Tracy Marander. They lived together for a while, and she took the photo that's on the album cover. Marander didn't know the song was about her until she read about it years later in the book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana.
  • According to Chad Channing, who was Nirvana's drummer at the time, Cobain didn't have a title for this song when he brought it to the studio. Chad told us: "I remember we were rehearsing the song not long before we went in and recorded the record, Bleach. Kurt was just playing the song and we were working it out. I asked Kurt what the song was, and Kurt was like, 'Well, I don't really know.' And then I said, 'Well, what's it about?' And he says, 'It's about a girl.' And I said, 'Well, why don't you just call it 'About A Girl'?' And he just kind of looked at me and smiled and said, 'Okay.' We went with that."

    Channing adds that this is one of the songs that really impressed him about Cobain's songwriting. "It's kind of heavy, but it's got a total pop sensibility," he said. "I always thought he was a great songwriter."
  • This was one of Nirvana's first songs. It was released on Sub Pop, an independent record label they recorded on before being signed by David Geffen's DGC Records.
  • Kurt Cobain wrote this after spending the previous night listening to The Beatles first US album, Meet The Beatles, over and over.
  • This is the first track on Nirvana's acoustic album MTV Unplugged In New York, which was released after the death of Cobain. Thanks to airplay, the song hit #22 in the US in October 1994, which was about six months after Cobain died.
  • The album Bleach initially sold about 35,000 copies, which was pretty good for an Indie band and got them signed to a major label. The album eventually sold over 1 million copies, as many Nirvana fans bought it after Cobain died.
  • This was popular on college radio long before Nirvana hit it big.
  • The album cost about $600 to produce. They got the title from a public service campaign in San Francisco that urged intravenous drug users to "Bleach Your Works," meaning to clean their needles with bleach so they would not spread the AIDS virus. At one point, Cobain wanted to call the album "Too Many Humans."
  • The cover of Bleach shows four band members. For a while, Nirvana had a second guitarist named Jason Everman.
  • On Nirvana's MTV Unplugged special, Cobain said, "This is off our first record, most people don't own it" before playing the song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Elliot - St. Louis, MO
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Comments: 59

Pete from Portland - That is an incredibly insightful!
Do you mind connecting with me? Id like to talk to you...no way to send an personal message...don't really want to share my email in a public forum...
Rp - Oakland
It sounds a lot like the Beatles/Smithereens.One of the first Nirvana songs I really liked.Dane - Green Cove Springs Fla., Fl
With all respect, I think to properly understand this song, and any great work, one has to pull one's self away from the love of the artist and knowledge of their personal trivia. Let the song stand for itself. It is a terrific piece of minimalist poetry with its own meaning that will endure long after Kurt Cobain’s personal history and relationships are forgotten.
I don’t know anything about “Tracy” and certainly did not know Kurt personally and so would not suggest either was actually involved in prostitution. The greatest artists are not that self-centered and write, instead, of the tragedy they see and feel in the lives of others around them.
I hear this song as a dark, disturbing “Roxanne”. It is the story of a very lonely man who has fallen in love with a hooker. She treats him as a friend when they are together and listens indulgently just as a good professional should. She probably does have a “clue” of his feelings for her but she does not want to acknowledge that because she does not feel the same.
“Take advantage while… you hang me out to dry” a bitter complaint that the relationship is one-sided.
“I’m standing in your line. I hope you have the time. I take a number, too.” BloodAxe definitely nailed the visual on this that Cobain took from everyday life. Like every other customer waiting for his number to be called at the meat market, this man is waiting his turn with the object of his affections. That he has to take a number and wait like everyone else reveals the tragic awareness that he is just another “John” to her.
And, because of her professional view of him, because she does not love him the way he loves her, he can’t have her every night for free… only when he pays.
The repeated, plaintive refrain, “I do”, is a sad reference to one half of a wedding vow.
Damn good music!
Pete - Portland, Or
@bloodaxe: the lyrics here on SF and in your other sources are correct as these are the ones from both the original version on Bleach and the one from MTV Unplugged. I don't know the Outcesticide Boxset, but after googling the tracklist there are several versions of the song on it, maybe you compared it to a live version, studio outtake or otherwise special version.Martin - Rostock, Germany
I don't know much about Kurt Cobain or the girl he wrote this song about, but I am a grocery store manager and I can't tell you how many times I've seen my cashier's boyfriends wait on line just so they could talk to their girlfriends. So, these lyrics, "I'm standing in your line; I do hope you have the time; I do pick a number to; I do keep a date with you" are very real and visual to me.Paula - Houston, Tx
I have a cd that is a live show, and before they played the song, he called Chris a girl, and said, 'this song is About a Queer'. Might changed some opinions im sure. anyone want the cd lemme knowJames - Kalamazoo, Mi

I'm listening to the song right now, and Kurt clearly says at the start: (From Outcesticide Boxset)
First VERSE:

"ahhhh -- I do"
"don't give a note to me
"I do PROMISE to agree
"I do live in constant fear"
"I do wonder why I'm here"
"but if you say I'm right"
"But I can't see you every night for free"
i do
"Don't wash my face again"

"I do hit up all my friends"
(the rest I can't figure out)

The 10 "lyric" sites I visited I found on google for the lyrics to "about a girl" came up with words that mostly do NOT match what Kurt sings in this boxset song. Maybe it's different from the original version.

Anyone got any ideas?

Bloodaxe - Lincoln, Ne
luv the song and the unplugged version is way better people.Allie - Bellevue, Ne
Jason Everman donated/loaned the band the $600 to record Bleach. That's why he was mentioned on the liner notes. He didn't play on Bleach. It has been written that he never got the money back, but I think it's safe to say he was repaid for his part in launching the band.Mark - Worcester, Mi
To me the song is about a prostitute..easy friend..i can't see you everynight free..standing in your line...pick a number two... a date with you...why do you guys think?Jenna - Clifton, Nj
Tracy was Kurt's longtime girlfriend in his early 20's. She would work all the time while he stayed at home and wrote music and drank all day. Anyway of course she bitched about him never working, and later she asked him why he never wrote her a song since that was supposedly all he did all day long. He responded with this song, and when Chad asked who it was about he just said "about a girl". Anyway they didn't stay together cause she was tired of him not working, they were growing apart, and he was cheating on her with Tobi Vail at the time, even though Tracy didn't know about that until later.Kayla - Hattiesburg, Ms
the first beatles album is please please me not with the beatlesDerek - Shrewsbury, Ma
"i thought kurt cobain had a girlfriend named "Courtney Love"? Not tracy then again, i suck at facts, so i could be wrong"

Courtney Love was his wife, they got married around the time of their third album
Goombario - Jacksonville, Fl
Why do people keep trying to guess who or what this song is about? This along with every other Nirvana song is awesome and part of what makes it so is Cobain's lyrical genius.The song takes on a different meaning to everyone right? That is the beauty in songwriting, and Cobain could do it like no other.Enjoy the song for what it is- artistry at its best.Sara - Union City, Tn
Jason Everman never played guitar on "Bleach"Tony - Pittsburgh, Pa
alright first of all you all have it wrong sorry :P this song used to be called About a Vibrator because kurt was involved with this one girl who did not give him any so he got mad and made this song becuz she preferred a vibrator over him. You can see it in the lyrics too, I can see your having fun, for freee. Anyways if you dont believe me read heavier than heaven its a great book :)Chris - Ontario, Canada
He did, in fact he had a wife name Courtney Love, but Tracy came before her.Kelsey - Clarendon, Tx
i thought kurt cobain had a girlfriend named "Courtney Love"? Not tracy
then again, i suck at facts, so i could be wrong
Jacob - Rocky Mount, Nc
for mine this is simply that wow I got my first girlfriend/soul mate [which was more impt as he never had "proper" parents to talk to], BUT he did not want to be trapped, hence I cant see you every nite. If it was her that was rejecting him then surely you cant see me every niteBrian - Cairns, Australia
From what i read, The girlfriend wanted a song about her, and was mad at Kurt for writing a song about masterbation(spank thru) and not one about her. So he decided to listen to the beatles to get in the right mindset to write the song. The chorus is a refence to a fight they had b4 writting the songBob - From Somewhere, Or
I like the Bleach version but the Unplugged version is haunting i reckon. BrilliantJosh - Melbourne, Australia
Nirvana kicks ASS!
Rock on,
Rez - Bierut, Lebanon, Other
Kurt named the album Bleach from a sign he saw about to clean your needle with BLEACH and he wrote all the songs from Bleach in one night thats why School has only 15 words

RIP Kurt Donald Cobain
from the girl who looks like Kurt
Adrianna - Longview, Wa
"i cant see you every night free" i think means that Tracy did all the work and that he couldnt see her for free every nightTruth - Mississauga, Canada
Maybe it is about someone else. Perhaps it could have been a girl with bleached short messy blond hair and grey blue eyes that he met at the Weir Ladder who was standing in line to get in and they talked for an hour about their common interest in painting, the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven and music. Maybe it is about when she stood him up unintentionally when she couldn't find the place that his band was playing at even though she tried. Just a thought.Mary - Minneapolis/bemidji, Mn
at first,i thought this song about a stripper...Defri - Samarinda, Indonesia
Kurt was living with Tracy Marander, his girlfriend at the time and he'd just be with her and play music all day. She told him to go get a job which he eventually did, but he felt like that was her telling him that he couldn't see her every night for free.Rudy - Vancouver, Canada
Everyone is missing the most important lyric of this song, "I think you fit this shoe".
A clear Reference to Cinderella. That shows how great of a lyricist Kurt was.
Garrett - Rapid City, Sd
They need to correct their lyrics.Sanitarium - Sharon, Ks
Love this song.
One of the best, tbh.
Kurt - R.I.P
Nicky - Southampton, England
This isn't about Tracy, its about a stripper. It's too simple. Going to the strip club, talking. She has a "clue" because being friendly is her job that makes her more money. The chorus: he takes advantage of her stripping but he has to pay for the service and then leave her be. He's standing in her line because she has other customers. He offers a number (money?) to continue his time with her. There is just nothing here to indicate a real relationship.Seeds13 - Madison, Wi
Wonderful, wonderful song Nirvana Unplugged is one of my all time favourite albums of all timeSteve - London, England
Derek, Bowling Green, KY, he probly could drive a truck through it, knowing her and how she has sex every day.Kaycee - Houston, Tx
lol sorry, i meant Tom, Hell, CAKaycee - Houston, Tx
This is a great song-i played it solo on the bass (really bad sounding washburn) for a talent showEcho - Normalville, Ma
This song is about being lonely. Kurt was just lonely at the time. He was willing to pay to see his girl. Even if she was working.Derek - Bowling Green, Ky
This song is about Courtney Love's vagina and Kurt's desire to drive a truck through it so he could reenter the womb of his mother. It's also about heroin.Tom - Hell, Ca
I think this song is about how it feels to be alone all your life and when someone barges in your lif eand tells you what to do you freak out. "I can't see you every night" kind of hints at that. A women trying to tell you to do things all the time can get pretty annoying at times!LOLKane - Vancouver, Wa
This is my most favorite song on the "Bleach" album- I also like the demo version on their greatest hits C.D., "Sliver-The Best Of The Box."
For those fans of Nirvana, you gotta go out and get it. It's really cool!
Steven - West Carrollton, Oh
good song but great riffSam - Portsmouth, United States
In the song he says " i need an easy friend , with an ear to lend" meaning he just wants a girl who would listen to what he has to say ,.........In other words he wants a girlfriend who is going to be his best friend at the same time....Tom - National City, Co
Okay, it may have been said that the girl in question was his girlfriend at the time but maybe just maybe its not her at all! Read the lyrics again its a 2 sided view between a guy and the stripper hes so called in love with! Maybe thats why he never wrote about his girlfriend she wasnt the one he was focused on! He ended up not with her aftr all!!!Danielle - West Chester, Oh
i love this song and i think it kinda reminds me of something the beatles would doZac - Olive Bridge, Ny
This song caught my attention as a young kid when played unplugged on TV suprisingly. The whole way the songs worded with constant "I do"'s shows the song from a perspective of Kurt speaking to Tracy in person.

Kurt seems to feel as though he's a last priority in her life. The Line "Im standing In your line/hope you have the time" references that he's waiting in line obviously and that Tracy does'nt seem to find any time for him in her life anymore to point out the obvious. He's not her Number 1 priority in her life when he should be hence the "Number 2" part.

Then theres the part about finding someone to listen to his grief "Easy friend" who can help understand his misery.

He just wants to see her with no interuptions and to be emotionally attatched at all times. From his perspective he seems to care a whole lot more and be madly in love with her while she could care less. Kurt wants to see her "free" meaning nothing in the world bothering them as they spend time together.

Definately a beautiful song and my favorite of all time.
Mike - St.catharines, Canada
The Unplugged version was released from the "MTV Unplugged In New York Album" as a single in 1994:

Year Chart Position
1994 Mainstream Rock Tracks (US) No. 3
1994 Modern Rock Tracks (US) No. 3
1994 Official Italian Singles Charts No. 21
1994 Official Sweeden Singles Charts No. 20
1994 Official Holland Singles Charts No. 26
Mike - Worcecester, England
kurt wrote 'about a girl' after tracy complaint that he makes songs on every topic but her. 'i cant see you every night for free' comes from the fact that tracy was earning for both and kurt stayed at home only. so tracy used to write down household work for kurt to do before she returns home night, and kurt used to hate that chores.J - Sb, Ny
Kurt Cobain was a huge Beatles fan.Cool Guy - Compton, Ca
I totally agree with Matt. The funny thing is that it kind of surprised me at first that I appeared to be a Beatles-fan and also admire a lot of Nirvana-songs very much. Till I found out that this totally makes sense. I'm afraid Nirvana is underestimated by a lot of people that only hear the heavy gitars and the darkness and agression in the songs. In the meanwhile my children, 8 and 5 years old, sing along those songs, especially About A Girl. I know this must sound dreadful to other people, but there you have it. To me it only proves how strong those songs and melody's are.Tanya - Rotterdam, Netherlands
When my dad first heard this song he thought it was a Beatles cover. You could replace Kurt's voice with Paul McCartney's and you could put it on a Beatles album. I've always said that Nirvana is heavy metal and the Beatles combined. Fantastic song.Matt - Millbrae, Ca
Cobain: "I was listening to the Beatles over and over again and I got this song."Mark - Chicago, Il
It's about a girl.Dave - Brisbane, Australia
"I can't see you every night for free" Its about Tracy, telling him to get a job and start making money
Kurt was aparently listening to the Beatles all day while writing this song, thats why it has such an upbeat pop style beat.
Gilliann - Dublin, Ireland
"I can't see you every night for free" refers to the fact that Tracey worked at the local cinema, and Kurt would often go to the movies just to see her. "I'm standing in your line" (the ticket booth) "I do hope you have the time" (to talk) "I do pick a number too" (to wait and see her) "I do keep a date with you" (this was the date with her)Abby - Melbourne, Australia
Yes, this song is about Tracy Marander , correct spelling. She is on the Kurt&COurtney movie. She worked at a cafeteria and supported Kurt in everything that he did and he refused to work, then they broke up. But he wrote the song for her while they were living together. Courtney does not like for him to do songs about other ladies, but supposedly she gets along with Tracy, as she was present in 1996 when Frances poured the ashes into the creekKelly - Houston, Tx
Patti Smith wrote and recorded a tribute song, "About a Boy," after Kurt died.Cary - New York City, Ny
"Bleach" was originaly named "To many humans" but Kurt changed it before the record was released!Kristian - Asker, Norway
The title of the song came last. After trying to figure out a name for the song, Chad Channing (the drummer at that point) asked Cobain what the song was about...it's "About A Girl," replied Kurt. And there you have it.Mark - Hudson, Ma
It is about when Kurt dated Tracy Marauder. She wanted him to get a job, and he said hed rather sleep in his car then get a job. Anyway its about his relationship with Tracy, "I cant see you every night for free."Francesfarmer - Seattle, In
Kurt Cobains girlfriend "tracy" asked kurt why he never made a song about her and he responded by making this songKyle - Long Beach, Ca
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