Twenty-three years ago today, MTV Unplugged aired its greatest single episode when Nirvana performed, changing the format forever.
Even as a six-year-old kid, I recall watching this over and over with my brothers. I remember when Kurt Cobain died not four months later, they aired this episode seemingly endlessly. I remember picking out this poster on a Walgreen’s trip with my grandma with the lyrics to “Dumb” across Cobain from that MTV Unplugged performance. It was on my wall into my early teens.
Nirvana did Unplugged the way they did everything else: their own way. They didn’t book the big-name special guests, instead bringing on members of the Meat Puppets. They navigated away from performing their biggest hits, opting for a handful of songs from Nevermind, the just-released In Utero, and several covers.
Reddit was able to track down someone who was in attendance to give their recollection of the whole night from the perspective of an audience member. It’s definitely worth a read and is pretty brief.
My favorite song from the entire performance ended up being one that was cut from the original broadcast for time. “Oh, Me” is a Meat Puppets song that fit Cobain as an Unplugged cut. Without his guitar, Cobain was able to focus on the words, which from the opening verse are very harrowing when put into context with the tragedy that would follow so soon after. You can watch that song performed below. For a video of the full show as aired on MTV, click here.