Album: With The Lights Out (boxset) (2004)


  • Kurt Cobain wrote this in 1988 and was performed it at live shows in 1989. The early live version of the song is cruder than the box set version from 1993 and had slightly different lyrics. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Doug - Pittsburgh, PA
  • This song is also called "Verse, Chorus, Verse." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Andover, MN, MN

Comments: 43

  • Alex from ChicagoFriends let’s not argue to the meaning of the song, rather just throw out your interpretations and we can all benefit from various perspectives. Kurt would have hated people being unable to interpret his art because of what he thought it was, it’s not what Kurt was thinking man it’s how it makes you feel and how you can relate it to your life, the minute you lose that the art is no longer about sensitivity but correctness. There is no right answer... such deep attachments cannot have unanimous definition, you all have great taste in music and your perceptions are equally valuable xoxo.
  • Audrey from The NetherlandsI think this song is about the position of woman in this life and how they themself agree to go with the standard in reference to man and how man treat woman. They save themselfs in virginity to make the man that will come in their lifes happy. They keep themselfs in a jar (in other words a barrier from the outside world), the man gives them breathing holes to feel like they think that they are happy but in reality they are not because there is much more in the world then they get presented or even allow themselfes to go through then if they where a man. The man will cover the lady with grass which means clothes to cover up and then they are happy because their man wants them for their eyes only.
    But she is really in a laundry room which stands for the stigma of a woman that needs to do laundry and also for a room of unhappiness and it that room she finally understands that she is unhappy.
    Then because of the misery she will cut herself to hide her pain and then she think she is happy. But still is in a jar and still gets breathing holes and is still covered with grass.
    And then the only thing that there is left to keep life going on to make everybody happy but most importantly him is to fool herself. He still keeps her in a jar and thinks she is happy and he gives her breating holes and she will seem happy. And eventually she is wallowing in his s--t. Like she is nothing. Nothing with any meaning. She would do anything for him to sacrifice her deepest longings.
  • Jo from Long IslandYou people are mind dead. This should be your premise - "I know nothing". This song is about.... Danny Goldberg. Truth is, there's too much fans don't know about who and what Kurt Cobain was and was doing. Even until today as most of the details are either buried or withheld still, surprisingly even in this modern era of mass file sharing.

    All his songs are super poignant to the point that it becomes obliterated in the assumption that it's just art and music. When in fact, it all means something - Come as You Are - the guy is apologizing and at the same time telling you how his death will be staged but it won't be him pulling the trigger ("I don't have a gun").

    Some time before his body was found, Cobain's kitchen one day was filled with visitors, his management team, Novoselic (don't think Grohl was there as he pretty much hated and resented Cobain), and other close friends. This "intervention" was to reassure and keep Cobain calm to make sure he didn't do anything stupid and actually hurt himself before the agreed date and term. He wanted everyone out and left the scene. He was disgusted at being reminded of the deal and with whom he had made it with - Swan - a.k.a Danny Goldberg from Gold Mountain. For more watch, "Phantom of the Paradise".
  • Kate from Buffalo, MnWell, this is a opinion not a answer. #1 opinion: If you think about it. He sings of a sad half sentence then ends it with a, "Then be happy". Sappy.
    It is sad then goes "try to be happy".
    #2 opinion: The song could be about ordinary life, people struggles and trying to make their life happy but there is still a downside to their force of "happiness" on their struggles.
  • Drew from Greenville, Ncmost of you are wrong. Anna from Seattle, take heart. I never hung out with Kurt, but I have a very strong sense that this song is either a warning or a requiem, depending on whether he wrote it before she married the guy or (I fear) after. its about a girl (no pun intended, seriously) who is about to marry a guy that she should not. probably a beautiful talented young lady in her final years of high school. she has passion and talent. probably in the arts or journalism. she dreams of fulfilling herself by -imagine this!- following her dreams. because of practical considerations (family pressure, finances) she is seriously considering marrying a man she simply just should not. he is probably some kind of clean cut, young republican, captain of the football team, all-American Christian, wealthy, gonna inherit the car dealership,right wing, douche bag type dude.... Kurt knows this chick, and that she is beautiful on the inside, and that this whole thing is wrong for her, AND WILL END ALL HER DREAMS. if she doesn't take heed.... one day, while folding clothes, heavily pregnant with his second kid, she is gonna have a moment of clarity (as the alcoholics say) and realize that she could have taken that trip to Italy, or gone on to art school, or whatever her dream was; but for years (and for years to come) she is just a curiosity that has been captured by a shallow dickhead and is imprisoned in a stifling habitat that has drained her spirit and will continue to stifle her till she dies "he'll cover you with grass". I grew up in south Florida and as little boys we would seek to capture any beautiful, or strange, or whatever, insect or lizard, put them in a box or jar with some grass and water in a coke bottle lid, and tape the top shut, and then poke holes in the top so they could get oxygen. INEVITABLY one of two things happened 1. we released the creature (or it broke out while we weren't looking ;) ) or 2. it died a horrible death because we trapped in such a s--tty environment, meaning to supply it with what we thought best but far from what it really needed, but being ignorant little kids we had no idea how to care for such a creature (and should have left it alone whereby it would've lived the life God intended for it). Get it? that's what this girl is gonna become, if marries this dude, a lizard in a jar, living in darkness, in a little jar, suffocating. She should run.... go to that art school, take that trip to Europe, follow her dreams with all her might!, not marry this Republican car salesman who can take care of her moneywise but has a very different, (and asphyiciating) version of how her life will play out. that's what Sappy is about! or something like that.
  • Tom from Melbourne, AustraliaThis song is Kurt basically bagging Christians/ Christianity, pointing out that they are being suppressed by their religion/ god and through their own naivety and ignorance are totally fine with. Great song and in my opinion speaks the total truth.
  • Jessie from Springfield, PaIt's about his pet turtle.. I believe
  • Jose from Santa Monica,ca, Calook at the name of the song sappy. it is sad and happy combined meaning it is a sad and happy song
  • Anna from Seattle, WaI think there's probabilities in all the intrepations. The obvious theme is a "powerless" someone (the subject) accomodating what they think will make a higher power or person pleased and that then power will appreciate the effort and allow the subject 2 b "happy". The subject has his/her ephinany of the futility of his/her efforts in a quiet location suitable for mental reflection (i.e. a laundry room) There is a possibility that he/she is involved cleaning up for & serving the power. I would never say I know who, when, where or what idea that Cobain really had in was his mind, not mine.

    The great thing about music is it can take on very personal significance to the listener, even though he/she has nothing to do with the writer. That's what makes it "art" instead of some factual biography or academic textbook. Same reason a painting is defferent than a photo.

    What this song means to me: When this song was out (early 90's) I'd recently married my college boyfriend like (sarcasm here) nice girlfriends were "supposed to". On the surface I "should" have been "happy". He made good money, paid attention to me, blah blah. He wasn't abusive physically. . He provided me w/all the stuff. He also told me where I could go, who I could see, most of all, how I should think however. (During our Sr. year in college, he become an Evangelical Christian & the gulf between us only widened with time since I AM not.) Totally get the image of a bug or turtle in a jar w/breathing holes. And cutting myself..generally harming myself in many ways because that's all that was left of my own power & feeling guilt that I couldn't force myself into the mold he set out for me. I "got a clue" and "came to [me]" in my car, driving NB on I-5, when I heard "Bullet w/Butterfly Wings" by the Smashing Pumpkins for the first time . I related to every single f** word, Then I knew everything was irreversably wrong. I "shouldn't" have related to that song so deeply. But I WAS really that angry. The "breathing holes & grass" game was up. (off topic, but thankfully no kids were involved, btw)

    When I hear this song, I feel two contradictory emotions. One: deep shame for attempting to go brain dead to please anyone else and b) a tiny sense of gratefulness that a song, however it was written or what it "really meant', seemed to sympathize, albeit sarcastically, with my situation. I'm sure many others feel the same way. That's a huge part of Kurt's gift. Not so much about what he literally meant with his lyrics, but his ability to touch others even if he didn't intend to.
  • Jordan from New Holland, Pawho cares what he wrote it about? just listen and enjoy!!
  • Mark from Worcester, MiInfinity, Kurt would mock Christians, but not Christianity. There's a big difference.
  • Infinity from Los Angeles, CaThis is a cover of a church song, with different lyrics, he often mocked Christianity. Kurt Cobain never liked to explain his lyrics, he claimed they were bits and pieces of poetry. It does appear he was writing most of this song about a pet or insect.
  • Jonathan from Montreal, QcIt's about his pet turtle...
    Read the lyrics, it's not about god and there's no second-degree freudian explanation, he looked at his pet turtle for five minutes and then said: Hey, I'll write a song about you.
  • Clay from York, PaI don't think that you can say this song is simply about his pet turtle. I think he compares human life to the life of his pet turtle, but he didn't just sit down and write this about his turtle. Yeah he didn't want people over-analyzing his lyrics, but I don't think this one is quite as simple as being all about his pet turtle.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiJack Endino notes Nirvana hit his studio with Kurt Cobain intent on getting this song worked out. "It was the first time I thought of Kurt as fallible. He was determined to get Sappy right and I just thought it wasn't a very interesting song. Kurt go write some more songs I told him...this one isn't worth the trouble." Endino obviously didn't care for the tune, and noted that Kurt just would not let it go. To back his argument Endino notes the multiple recordings of the song; which wouldn't have been necessary if the material were strong.
  • Dom from Las Vegas, NvThis song is simply about Kurt's pet turtle. listen to the lyrics and don't over analyze it
  • Joe from Pontiac, MiThis Song is About Kurts pet turtle. Like when he says "ill keep you in jar" or "your in a lundry room" because thats where he kept his turtle.
  • Joe from Wall, SdI don't see why people have to try and decipher the lyrics when all kurt cared about was the melody of his songs he even said it himself in an interview with rolling stone or some other magazine that he hates how people try to figure out his lyrics when they usually mean nothing but yet he finds it humorous or entertaining to read the interpretations
  • Maria. from Montclair, Cai think verse chorus verse is about God.

    but Sappy sounds to me like it would be about a bad relationship. cuz i can relate to the lyrics cuz i was in an abusive relationship & i would cut myself to feel better 'happy'. and keep u in a jar can mean control. but hell give u breathing holes 'some space' so u'll think its ok. and you'll wallow in his shet, you'll deal and be happy with the way he treats u like shet. the clue that came to u means to open ur eyes an realize wats happening.
  • Lorraine Davis from Greeley, CoLori for Santa clara is exactly right. Christianty seems like being enslaved and all the christians are lemmings, thats why i only used to WISH i could be christian. its like a point in our life we all have to experience and decifer
  • Lorraine Davis from Greeley, Cothis song is obviously about god and christians.
  • Walter from Orlando,its what people think of how they "think"
    just things you thing about and how you think about just thinking about it . It's hard to explain
  • Johnny from Pittsburgh, PaBryan from Prescott, AZ pretty much has the handle of this song. It's about god. It does follow the existentialistic idea of living for yourself like Chris from Manalapan, NJ said. The key lines in this song are "And if you save yourself, You will make him happy" and "And if you fool yourself, You will make him happy". The first meaning if you save yourself, become born again, it will please god and the latter meaning if you fool yourself into believing in god it too would make "god" happy. The band Under the Weather did a pretty decent cover of this tune. They only put out one EP, but the songs on it are all religious themed. Mainly about free thought.
  • Daise from Anaheim, Cagrass can symbolize money. "He'll cover you with grass And you'll think your happy". A man showering a woman with material wealth and luxary instead of emotional. A shallow gold digging love.
  • Daise from Anaheim, CaPerhaps the laundry room represents a cycle. Besides the fact that he repeats it over and over, laundry moves in circles when washing and drying. This cycle of women, from generation to generation, craving marriage and love, but repeatedly ending up with abusive, and controlling spouses or partners. Thinking that their life has began a new chapter, has in fact brought these women to their ends. The conclusion came to you.
  • Jeff from Denton, TxI have heard that the box set version was actually recorded in an actual laundry room hints the lyrics.
  • Daniel from Sydney, Australiabest ever version of this song is on outcesticide IV. To me, its cobains attempt at a pop song (explains the music). It also is about god, how humans do everything to please him (you'll make him happy), and he will cover you in glass.
    in a laundry room is a place of realisation, a time to think.

    also, btw Verse Chorus Verse and Sappy are NOT the same song.

    these titles are mistaken because of the release of Journals, where cobain scribbled and changed the lyrics.
  • Chris from Ogdensburg, NyI think this song is about a combination of Krazy kims post and the God Theory. I think that he is relating to the idea that if there is a god that this is his world and we are nothing but a insect to him which is like a feeling small and insignificant. I think this is true cause the song is referring to someone giving another person the things he needs to survive-god being the provider and us being the insects. and that god could capture us and put us in his laundry room. and as far as the conclusion that came to you. i think that is referring to the idea of the person realizing how insignificant they really are.
  • Tony from Mcchord Afb, WaI think this song is about feeling trapped by the person you love. I think he's comparing it to catching a caterpillar and putting it in a jar with leaves and such because in reality it kind of does feel like that...first hand experience.
  • Krazy Kim In A Box from Hyannis, Ma...but as i was saying how the notes bounce off of each like....OMG....OMG!! OMFG!!!!!! BRANDAN JUST FELL OFF THE FRICKEN ROOF!!!....ill finsh later...............................
  • Krazy Kim In A Box from Hyannis, Ma...sry didnt mean to click "post comment" just jumped or what ever wen i clicked sumthin else...heh heh....
  • Krazy Kim In A Box from Hyannis, Mawell...from my my point of veiw it seems as if kurt could just be talking about a young boy who possibly captured a cattipillar kept it in a jar in a laundry room and covered the cattipillar with grass and gave him holes to breath through-like at the top of the lid of the jar or what ever-like some young kids do when they find such things outside, they bring random things home at times, but its perfectly normal. But wait!! im not done with explaining my point of veiw just yet...theres more. As 4 the emotion in this song-which is very existant like other songs of his-is expressing the..the "umfph" the the "fire" i guess u could say or the "indescribable" and descrit emotion the cattipillar or the boy or both might feel-the mood of this normal situation the emotion along with the sound of the song-the notes how they relate bounce off of each other
  • Maciej from Sierpc, PolandIt is not surprise if I say "Sappy" is song about Kurt's adjustment to God. He thought God is a kind of border but He really exists. Perhaps "You're in a laundry room" mean heaven because in both places things are white and clean.
  • Chris from Manalapan, NjJust like Bryan from AZ said...this song is about God. I'm not assuming anything---this is what the song is about. It follows the existentialistic idea of living for the "self". Using or following the ideas of others would be in "bad faith". Kurt has read about the philosopher John Paul Sarte, who was better known as the originator of existentialism. Kurt must have read Sartre's story called "the Wall" as well because both the song sappy and the Wall have the same excact theme. It is even more evident due to the fact that both the song and the story frequently reference a "laundry room". In the lyrics Kurt is talking about how you live "in a jar and think your happy". By following God you are basically constricted to a life where you must follow the laws of god and think this is the right/happy way to live. Existentialists don't believe in God but believe in utilizing the time you have to live.
  • Bryan from Prescott, AzThis is about God. Read Heavier Than Heaven, as it might clarify some things. Kurt became a Christian in the youth group of a local church, the South Aberdeen Baptist Church. He and Krist both went there. Kurt's friend, Jesse Reed, was also the son of the youth pastor there, Dave Reed. Dave Reed invited the then-homeless Kurt to come stay with his family. For about four months Kurt preached to his friends about the evils of drugs and told them to repent and turn to Jesus. One day Kurt lost his key to their house, and so he broke a window to get in. They kicked him out for that. He then resumed smoking pot and at some point renounced Christianity.
    Anyway, though, this song is about God trapping us like grasshoppers in a jar, covering us with grass, poking breathing holes in the top of the jar and storing us in his laundry room. Being a Christian myself, I disagree with this idea, but can understand where a person who believes it is coming from. It's offensive to think we're inferior to God, and that we're just insects to him. It's funny, there is actually a verse in the bible, Isaiah 40:22 that says: "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." And though I'm sure Kurt was unaware of this, the imagery of God threatening to squash us like insects is all-too ubiquitous in our secular-humanist society.
  • Grunge=dead from Nowhereville, CaThis song sounds like someone thinking about commiting suicide but then "if you save yourself then you will make him happy," idk it is a tough song to decipher.
  • David from Anaheim, CaI believe this song could also be about a girl that saved herself for a guy she wasnt sure about. Thinking he loved her she gave her virginity to him and she is committing suicide for giving herself after she found out that she was one of many of his lovers. With the lines "and if you save yourself, you will make him happy" reffering to her saving herself for him of course "he'll keep you in a jar, give you breather holes, cover you with dust and you'll think you're happy" is her thinking back to how it was so obvious that he was fooling and manipulating her(He who cannot trust, cannot be trusted), going into "you're in a laundry room, you're in a laundry room, the clue that came to you ahhhh" showing that she finally realized the clue she should have seen but didn't until it was to late. The second verse stating "and if you cut yourself, you will think you're happy" is her cutting her wrists to committe suicide and "You're in a laundry room" is the atmosphere she is in (she may be in a laundry room) while also in her mind she is also crowded she feels there is no other way out of what she did(this can also be decifered as her not giving it up to him and him locking her in a laundry room with him and her trying to escape through a window in the laundry room and cutting herself on the glass, but i think the other one fits better) the last verse stating "and if you fool yourself" and "you'll wallow in his/this S***" whether it being the emotional stress the guy gave to her to committe suicide and her thinking about it, right after them having intercourse, her blood, them argueing, or a combination of the stated. Thats what i got out of it.I have a friend that did this but she didnt try and committe suicide. You can imagine how she felt though, like this song.
  • Lori from Santa Clara, CaDoes anyone think this song is anti Christian? "And if you save yourself, you will make Him happy." I would think that if you want to be saved, you would have turned to God, who Kurt may be referring to in this song. I think this because once upon a time I thought I would be happy being Christian like my friends, but upon adopting that lifestyle, I found it to be stifling and felt like a slave constantly living in fear or striving for perfection rather than an individual. The person Kurt was singing about sounds like the Christian who thinks he knows the truth and is happy but in actuality is living a lie, or living in a "laundry room," until he really starts thinking about his situation.
  • Garrett from Rapid City, SdI would like to retract my last statement, after reading 'The Chosen rejects' I found that Verse, Chorus, Verse was like a working title for sappy
  • Matt from Millbrae, Caverse chorus verse was the original title for "Sappy", but it ended up developing into a completely different song, while Kurt named this song Sappy.
  • Garrett from Rapid City, SdChris - Andover, MN is WRONG. Verse Chourse Verse is nothing like Sappy. Both Songs appear on 'With the Lights out', nd the Orignail Lyrics for Verse Chourse verse are also in Kurt Cobin Journals Page 143.
  • Rutgen from AntwerpBeautiful song with a lot of emotion...The video of this song is so beautiful because it was made by Dave Grohl and Krist Noveselic with all different movies and pictures of kurt and in the middle, a line appears saying :"For kurt"
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaI think this is about lying to yourself that you're happy when you're in circumstances that are definitely not too good; for example being in a really crappy job. You can say to yourself "Oh well at least I'm making money", but you know this is not what you want to do. This was also the song used by Krist and Dave during the Kurt Cobain tribute at the 1995 VMA's.
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