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Heart-Shaped Box is a song by Nirvana that was released on In Utero, and is the 3rd track.  The song was released as the first single from the album mentioned, In Utero. It was one of two songs from the album mixed by Scott Litt in order to augment the original production by producer Steve Albini. While Nirvana's label DGC Records did not release a physical single for sale in the United States, "Heart-Shaped Box" received much American radio airplay, reaching number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The international release of the single reached number five on the UK Singles Chart. The song's music video, directed by Anton Corbijn, garnered critical plaudits and won two awards, including Best Alternative Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1994.

Origin and recording[edit | edit source]

Kurt Cobain wrote "Heart-Shaped Box" in early 1992. Cobain forgot about the song for a while but began working on it again when he and his wife, Courtney Love, moved to a house in the Hollywood Hills. In a 1994 Rolling Stone interview, Love said she overheard him working on the song's riff in a closet. She said she asked him if she could use the riff for one of her songs, to which he replied, "Fuck off!" and closed the closet door. "He was trying to be so sneaky", said Love. "I could hear that one from downstairs." The couple shared a journal in which they would write lyrics; Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross noted that Love's songwriting sensibility informed Cobain's on the song. The song's name came from a heart-shaped box Love had given Cobain. However, Cobain had originally titled the song "Heart-Shaped Coffin".

Nirvana had difficulty completing the song. Cobain attempted to have the rest of the band complete the song during jam sessions. He said, "During those practices, I was trying to wait for Krist and Dave to come up with something but it just turned into noise all the time." One day Cobain made one last attempt at completing the song. Cobain was able to come up with a vocal melody and the band finally finished writing the song. Cobain said that when they completed "Heart-Shaped Box", "We finally realized that it was a good song."

In January 1993, the band recorded a demo of "Heart-Shaped Box" during sessions with Craig Montgomery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; it was the first song recorded. The In Utero version was recorded on February 1993 by Steve Albini in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Prior to the album's release, the track was remixed by Scott Litt. Cobain was unapologetic about the band's decision to remix it, and maintained that the vocals and bass were not prominent enough in the original mixes. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic was also unhappy with the original mix of "Heart-Shaped Box". In a 1993 Chicago Sun-Times interview, he said the original effect used on the song's guitar solo sounded "like a fucking abortion hitting the floor." When the song was remixed by Litt, Cobain took the opportunity to add acoustic guitar and backing harmonies.

Single track list[edit | edit source]

All songs are written by Kurt Cobain, except Marigold, which was written by Dave Grohl.

CD single and 12" vinyl[32]

  1. "Heart-Shaped Box" – 4:39
  2. "Milk It" – 3:52
  3. "Marigold" – 2:33

Cassette and 7" vinyl[33]

  1. "Heart-Shaped Box"
  2. "Marigold"

Demo and the Single[edit | edit source]

The 1993 demo of Heart Shaped Box can be found here: [1]

The full single can be found here: [2]

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
I've been locked inside your Heart Shaped box for weeks
I've been buried in your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when You turn black
Hey! Wait! I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice (x3)
Your advice
Meat eating orchids forgive no one just yet
Cut myself on angel hair and babys breath
Broken hymen of your highness I'm left black
Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back
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