"Drain You" was originally a track from the seminal Nevermind album by Nirvana, in 1991.
A studio version was recorded on September 3, 1991 at Maida Vale Studios for BBC's John Peel session, however it remains unreleased and can only be found on bootlegs or in trader's circles. A live version appears as a b-side on the Come as You Are single, in 1992. A live performance appeared on the 1994 VHS home video Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!. A live version appeared on the 1996 live album From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, of which promo singles were released for radio play in the US. A demo version of the song appears on the 2004 Box Set With the Lights Out with Dale Crover on drums and Dave Grohl on bass comprising a short-lived trio entitled "The Retards." The demo included a short intro of the trio pretending to be retarded and introducing themselves, but this was omitted in the official release.
The lyrics appear to be about parasitic relationships, specifically, Cobain's relationship with Bikini Kill's Tobi Vail. On Nevermind, this song was considered by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain to be at least as good as Smells Like Teen Spirit and he also said it was one of the few songs he enjoyed playing live. It was often one of the first songs the band played in nearly every post-Nevermind concert. According to Nevermind producer Butch Vig on the Classic Albums: Nevermind DVD, "Drain You" had more guitar overdubs than any other song on the album: one clean track and five distorted tracks. Cobain tended to dislike heavily overdubbed songs, and so Vig had to tell Cobain lies, such as that tracks did not record right or were out of tune, in order to get him to do so many takes. The strange noises during the song's middle section were caused by a rubber duck toy that Cobain brought into the studio. That same rubber duck also ended up on the back of Incesticide.
On the Nevermind version, Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic tuned their instruments a whole step down. In concert, however, "Drain You" was generally played in whatever tuning the band was using throughout the rest of the concert — generally standard tuning in earlier concerts (prior to the 1992 Pacific Rim tour in support of Nevermind) and half-step-down in later concerts. The song's verse is based around a conventional chord progression of four power chords B, D#, G#, C#, the riff (F#)- E -C# for the choruses, and a chorus ending of B, A, G#.
- The song was originally called "Formula".
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