Radio Friendly Unit Shifter

Album: In Utero (1993)
Play Video


  • According to Kurt Cobain, this song is a throwaway song - just a bunch of random poetry lines thrown together.
  • The title is a reference to the Nirvana song "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and it's slick, radio-friendly sound. The original title for the song, "Four Month Media Blackout," is a reference to late 1991 and 1992, when "Teen Spirit" was on the charts. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Steve - Whippany, NJ, for above 2
  • Nirvana used this to open many of their 1993 and 1994 shows. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Carlito - Cameron Park, CA

Comments: 33

  • Jacob from Minesota, Usa.Anyone else notice the Morse code in the beginning of the song? What does it say?
  • Your Boy from Lief Erickson"bi-polar opposites attract, all of a sudden my water broke..." well, i dont think i have to tell you that the line isnt referencing magnets...
  • Sapphirescorp from Philadelphia, PaAnybody else imagine what would happen if Courtney Love ever admits she actually did murder Kurt? It will be a good day for Rock “n” Roll!
  • Micah from Tulsa,oklahomaYes the use just once and destroy is a heroin nod. Which should tell us that if he sang of something that personal to him then there are more personal lyrics than he wanted to let on. And then invasion of our piracy was speaking of the warrantless wiretapping that the government started doing in the 90s. After birth crumbled nation starve with out your skeleton key. Means that we as a nation are at the after birth stage of our existence where we no longer stand for what we originally did and the starve without your skeleton key is speaking of the petrol dollar because we made a deal way back to oil producing nations that all oil had to be sold and bought in the U.S. Dollar and in exchange we would get goods and stuff in exchange and it made us rich and fat and we would starve without our skeleton key. I love you for what I am not, is easily amused and happy just to be alive is what he is not and he doesn't want the horrible stuff that goes along with selling ones soul to lucifer to make it big. The acne blanket is right on and speak at once while taking turns is when congress is in session they have to take turns speaking. In utero is what got him killed because he revealed so much about the elites process and what their actually doing behind the scenes. I guarantee you that what you believe the heart shaped box video is about is not what you first thought. If your interested in more of what im talking about message me back when you get a chance and ill be happy to talk about it with you. You may know more about it than me, who knows?
  • Jason from Douglasville, GaGuys, the song is probably meaningless like most of Kurt's stuff. Not meaningless in the sense of it meant nothing but meaningless as far as the song being about a specific topic is concerned. What I got out of the song is that it is mostly about heroin because he throws several dope related terms in the song. "Use just once and destroy" is what is printed on needles because they are only meant to be used once. "A blanket acne'd with cigarette burns" is a reference to when someone is high on heroin and nodding out in bed which causes them to drop their cigarettes onto the blanket or comforter or whatever and gives it burn marks all over it that would resemble acne, I guess. People love doing two things when they are high on dope and that is smoke and sleep so it makes sense...
  • J.c from Chicago, IlThis song is about how Kurt would spew out mindless random jumble just to mind f--k you all. And it worked.
    Also, F-k Courtney.
    Good day.
  • Dj from Lexington, Kythe song by Cold that someone referenced The Day Seattle Died that songs a tribute to Kurt Cobain but also Layne Staley and sat in your angry chair is about Layne's song angry chair
  • Steven from Rochester, NyI always thought this was one of the best songs of In Utero because not only we're the lyrics very insightful but the track rocked hard. The song kept with the overall themes in In Utero: mental illness, emotional darkness, the perils of rock stardom, being burned out, and sarcasm. Obviously this tune, 'Rape Me', 'All Apologies" are sarcastic in nature, and the reason they are so powerful to the mind.
  • Boddah from Sydney, AustraliaI've always seen this song to be kurts own personal attack on the music industry "use just once and destroy, invasion of our PIRACY" etc. there's also the usual nirvana lyrics in there designed to make the song feel like a massive throwaway contradiction. just imo. (Best version was from outcesticide:iv where it was Radio Friendly unit shift->my sharona.) ^. ^
  • Todd from Toronto, Canadaoops didnt want his fame***
  • Todd from Toronto, Canadasongs about how he did want his fame obviously , i do not want what i have got which could be a rework of dont want it all
  • Jason from State Of Fitz, Njeveryone is talking about his death! write about the song. It's about his drug use and his fame. If we find out that courtney had him killed is he going to be ressurected?
  • Daniel from Sydney, Australiato joe in lockport: steal lines? what about stealing 'old age' lol which was credited to courtney until nirvanas was discovered in trading circles.
  • Daniel from Sydney, Australiaits not throwaway lyrics. however it has many contradictions to make you think. its also an attack on the music industry at the time "use just once and destroy, invasion of our piracy, afterbirth of our nation(possiblke referring to his generation), starve without your skeleton key"
    and of course we can talk about the fact that courtney had him killed.
  • Dan from Chicago Area, IlHey, let's discuss the song here and not how Courtney killed him.
  • Joe from Lockport, IlTo Ben, Ally wasn't hinting that Courtney killed Kurt, she was hinting that Hole sucks so much that they have to steal lines from Nirvana songs. "Use just once, then destroy" is a line in this song.
  • Brian from Winchester, Makurt life as a kid wasn't that good, then he became famous with the media. it's because of the big turnaround, maybe it was nerve-wrecking for him, just a strange turnaround. kurt also thought his new daughter would be a total mess too, with all kinds of brain defects. courtney was a total mess as usual when she was pregnant. Kurt was just really sad, maybe people didn't get his message quite right or they didn't understand him. that made him feel sad
  • Jordan from Victoria, CanadaThe Family Channel Show Radio Free Roscoe is about Curt Cobain and derives its name from (in part) Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. Radio Free Roscoe has many many character similarities; each of the main characters represents a different attitude of Kurt. The idea of an anonymous radio station was an idea of Kurts.
  • Rob from Santa Monica, CaNirvana played this song as the set opener on their In Utero tour. When the drums came pounding in it would immediately drive the crowd into a frenzy.

    "Shifting units" is record company jargon for selling records.
  • Zac from Gastonia, Ncor maybe it is just a bunch of throwaway lyrics like KURT SAID
  • Zac from Gastonia, Nckaylene or maybe there is no conspiracy and Kurt just hated the media and hated the attention and was fed up with life and shot up lots and lots of heroin and got the courage to take the gun and kill himself
  • Hammerlock from Grand Rapids, MiThis is one of my favorite Nirvana songs. It's just awsome, with one of the best guitar riffs that, in my opinion, Kurt CObain has come up with.
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaThis song made references to Kurt's eventual "suicide" if you can call it that. "use just once and destroy" "i do not want what I have got" "What is wrong with me"
  • Kaylene from Moore, Orto ben: mentally or phycially courtney killed kurt, whether it be the way she treated him or had hired some one to do it. i do not belive she did it herself {they weren't in the same state at the time}and he wasn't sitting in the chair that blocked the door there was a chair blocking ONE of the enterances to the greenhouse. i believe he was on heroin at the time but not as much as he was found with, some one shot him then put more heroin in him after that to confuse ppl on how that much could end up in one person and shot themselves at the same time therefore sending them ona wild goose chase to figure all that stuff out that didn't really mean anything to begin with.
  • Myles from Sydney, CanadaIt's not "What do I think I think?" It's "What is what I need?" Great song.
  • Hillary from Seattle, WaHow could he kill himself? Okay, there were no fingerprints on the gun, and you'd think, him being so loaded, that he would at least moved it around in his hand once. And, how could he have shot up 3 times the lethal dose of heroin, pulled down and buttoned his sleeve, tidy away his doings, and then pull the trigger? Impossible. And, there was a man who told a reporter that he was offered $50,000 to kill Kurt, and later after that, that man was found dead! And ever find it funny that no one "checked the greenhouse" when they went searching for him? And Courtney's album "Live Through This" came out just 4 days after Kurt died. Was that set up or what?!
    Kurt didn't kill himself!
    RIP Kurt, we love you.
  • Madison from Redondo, CaTo ben
    But he took so many drugs that he would be dead already. And he would have taken the drugs if he was lucky passed out then while he was unconscious shot himself in the head...with his toe. Or he did the drugs... died then shot himself. Oh yeah he killed himself. I think someone (maybe courtney) sent someone to kill him...
  • Madison from Redondo, CaBest song ever...
  • Ben from Beaverton, Orto ally, if your hinting that courtney killed kurt, your wrong. its a fair assumption but kurt sat in a chair that blocked the door. so it would be impossible for courtney to blow him away and get him to sit in a chair, then shut the door and make it look normal. also, this is reffered to in the song "the day seattle died" by COLD (not cold play) when they say "sat in your angry chair... we all heard the shotgun hit the floor"
  • Leeroy from Canton, Gait mentions the disease bipolar disorder which is a form of depression and this GREAT song captures the way one feels when infected by this disease. at least in my opinion
  • Leeroy from Canton, Gamy fav line is "whhat do i think i think" he mentions bipolar disorder which is a form of depression and the whole song captures the mood swings one has when cursed w/this disease.
  • Ally from Brisbane, AustraliaOn Hole's 'Celebrity Skin' theres a song called 'Use once then destroy'...hmmmm
  • Hillary from Seattle, WaWOO!!! awesome song! I don't know why anyone else isn't posting here! Its a gurrrreat song... I love it soooo much.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Justin Timberlake

Justin TimberlakeFact or Fiction

Was Justin the first to be Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher? Did Britney really blame him for her meltdown? Did his bandmates think he was gay?

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining Victims

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining VictimsSong Writing

Just like Darrin was replaced on Bewitched, groups have swapped out original members, hoping we wouldn't notice.

Grammar In Lyrics

Grammar In LyricsMusic Quiz

Lyrics don't always follow the rules of grammar. Can you spot the ones that don't?

Edwin McCain

Edwin McCainSongwriter Interviews

"I'll Be" was what Edwin called his "Hail Mary" song. He says it proves "intention of the songwriter is 180 degrees from potential interpretation by an audience."

Krishna Das

Krishna DasSongwriter Interviews

The top chant artist in the Western world, Krishna Das talks about how these Hindu mantras compare to Christian worship songs.

Guy Clark

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.