Listen to Jay Reatard's Cover of Nirvana's 'Frances Farmer'

The track will appear on the compilation 'In Utero: In Tribute,' out next month for Record Store Day

March 13, 2014 12:55 PM ET
Jay Reatard
Jay Reatard performs in Chicago, Illinois.
Daniel Boczarski/Redferns

One of garage rocker Jay Reatard's final recordings, before his 2010 death at age 29, was a cover of Nirvana's "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle," an emotionally frayed deep cut on the group's final album In Utero. Reatard's version features on the compilation In Utero: In Tribute, a digital and vinyl edition of which will come out on Record Store Day on April 19th. The comp also includes a cover of each In Utero song and boasts punky contributions by Thursday, Circa Survive, These Arms Are Snakes, Ceremony, Daughters and others. It will come out shortly after Nirvana are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Where Did "Frances Farmer" Rank Among the 102 Songs Nirvana Recorded?

Reatard dials back the distortion on his recording, which begins with a dog barking in the background. When it builds to the song's crashing main riff, he shows restraint, pulling off a swelling guitar slide and putting all of his effort into his typically nasal vocals. The chorus is one of Kurt Cobain's most emotionally revealing – "I miss the comfort in being sad" – and Reatard taps into the ambiguity of those lyrics not just in his vocal performance, but in his almost cow-punk backing track and the gilded noise that is his guitar solo.

Speaking with Rolling Stone last year, Dave Grohl said that "Frances Farmer" was a turning point in the evolution of Nirvana. After a self-imposed hiatus following the support of Nevermind, it was the first song Cobain presented the band for In Utero. "We were recording a couple of songs, one for the single with the Jesus Lizard and a Wipers cover," he said. "And Kurt said, 'Oh, I have this new song idea.' And he played 'Frances Farmer.' It was 'Oh my God, we're gonna have another record.'"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »