Dave Grohl gave an interview to Vulture in which he talked about the reason why Kurt Cobain changed the lyrics of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ during live performances.
‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is Nirvana’s opening track and lead single of their second album Nevermind. Released in 1991, the song became an unexpected success for the band and helped the album top of several charts.
Nirvana first performed ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ live on April 17, 1991, at the OK Hotel in Seattle. Back in those days, the song’s lyrics weren’t completed yet. Therefore, there were recognizable differences between the live version and the recording.
However, Nirvana also intentionally altered the lyrics during their live performances. For instance, Kurt Cobain changed the line ‘our little group has always been’ to ‘our little tribe has always been.’ Moreover, he also altered various lyrics in the song during a performance on BBC’s Top Of The Pops in 1992.
Asked about the long-term mystery behind those changes, Dave Grohl told Vulture that he does not know the reason either. Following that, the Foo Fighters frontman stated he was just trying to play his drums and get through the show back then.
In the interview by Vulture, Craig Jenkins asked Dave Grohl that:
“Solve a long-term mystery for me: Why would Kurt sometimes change the lyric in ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ from ‘our little group’ to ‘our little tribe’?”
Dave Grohl then responded:
“I don’t know. I was just trying to play the drums, man. Come on. I was just trying to get through the show!”
As it seems, Dave Grohl also doesn’t know why Kurt Cobain made such changes in the lyrics. This will likely remain a mystery as the iconic frontman departed from this world long ago, and apparently, he is the only one who had the answer.