It’s almost impossible to overstate the impact of The Beatles on music history. Ever since Beatlemania took over the world in the 1960s, the industry has never quite been the same, forever changed by the Fab Four’s innovative recording techniques and countless hits. Well over half a century on, their influence can still be felt by every new generation of music lovers and producers, including Nirvana.
The Beatles paved the way for rock and roll and popular music, allowing Kurt Cobain to spend the 1990s infusing it with grunge and gore. Nirvana remains one of the most essential bands in alternative rock, and though their darker sound may seem worlds away from the cheery ‘Here Comes The Sun’ or the subdued ‘Yesterday’, their frontman considered The Beatles to be his most considerable influence.
“I would say the biggest influence I’ve ever had would be The Beatles,” Cobain once shared in an interview with Mimmo Caccamo, “Because I listened to The Beatles since I was five years old up until I was in 4th Grade – the same three records over and over every night! I sang the songs, and I wanted to see The Beatles. It was about 1973 when I heard on the radio that they’d been broken up for three years; I was totally devastated!”
Eventually, he fused his interest in The Beatles with the sounds of heavier rock, leading to Nirvana’s own unique sound. Though it may seem like an impossible feat for Beatles fans, with such an extensive back catalogue of music to choose from, Cobain divulged his favourite releases by the Fab Four across interviews and journals.
During the same interview, Cobain shared his love for The Beatles’ Rubber Soul era, stating: “The guitar and simple melodies are my favourite”. He also named ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’ as his favourite song. However, Cobain’s journals suggested that their 1964 release Meet the Beatles! was his favourite record.
When Cobain’s journals were controversially published in 2002, they contained a list of his favourite albums, including the early Beatles record. It’s perhaps a surprising choice for the Nirvana frontman, who you might expect to favour their later, more experimental works, but he seemed to admire their pop and melodic style.
Charting The Beatles in their infancy, the album contained future all-time greats like ‘All My Loving’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. Permeated by tender rock and roll, it seems a stark contrast to Cobain’s own stylings, but perhaps that’s why he liked it so much.