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This Week In Rock History: Nirvana Debut 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

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April 17th, 1991: Nirvana performs "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time

There's no video of the first live performance of "Satisfaction" or "Johnny B. Goode" or most other landmark songs of the rock era, but thankfully cameras were rolling at the OK Hotel in Seattle on April 17th, 1991. That's when Nirvana first played an in-progress version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Even during such a landmark moment in rock history some idiot still felt compelled to yell out "Freebird" a second before the song began. It sort of makes you wonder what was yelled out before Lynyrd Skynyrd played "Freebird" for the first time.

Photos: The Rise Of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins And More

April 13th, 1996: Rage Against the Machine plays on SNL, causes ruckus

I don't know who decided to have Rage Against The Machine perform on Saturday Night Live the week that uber-conservative Steve Forbes hosted the show, but they should have expected trouble. At the time Forbes was running for president and his flat tax proposal was drawing lots of attention. During rehearsal, Rage hung two inverted American flags on their amps to demonstrate their view that the two major political parties were both "wealthy representatives of the privileged classes." Needless to say, SNL thought this was a bad plan and Rage promised to take them down. Seconds before the live broadcast, however, they put them back up. All hell broke loose and the SNL crew furiously ripped them down right before the band played "Bulls On Parade." As soon as it ended the band was thrown out of the building. They weren't allowed to wave at the end of the night, or even perform their second song.

Photo Gallery: Rage Against The Machine Rock For Immigrants Rights In California

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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