In a new interview, St. Vincent explained that she agreed to take part in Nirvana‘s reunion performances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and at a small Brooklyn club this past April — when she and three other women sang Kurt Cobain‘s parts of songs — because she felt it paid tribute to a part of their history that she feels people overlook.
“I thought it was a really cool way to honor the Olympia, [Washington] punk, freak, queer, feminist scene that the Nirvana guys came up in and were so very engrossed in that they asked women to fill in,” she told NME. “I thought it was a nice way to honor that part of their history, which sort of gets whitewashed in all the retrospective.”
She also reflected on the experience of meeting the musicians whose “Lithium” she covered on the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s death and at the Hall of Fame. “They’re so nice,” she said, looking back. “Obviously, I wish it was a situation where no one but Kurt Cobain was ever playing Nirvana songs. But that’s unfortunately not the case. I was a very ancillary part of the night, but I can’t imagine for those guys and for the family and for Courtney, for everybody, it just seemed like…the wound was still quite raw.”
St. Vincent previously told Rolling Stone how exciting the rehearsals for the Hall of Fame performance were. “I heard Dave Grohl’s kick drum sound in my motherfucking ear!” she said. “I heard Krist Novoselic playing. I heard Pat Smear playing in my ear, in real time. And I was there.” She laughed. “They haven’t played these songs in 20 years, [so] you just want to do your damnedest for those guys. But the real thing is that they changed people’s lives. People’s lives were better as a result of what those three, and eventually four, guys did.”
Later that month, Novoselic paid tribute to the women who performed with him in a blog, calling St. Vincent and Lorde “the powerful up-and-coming women in rock.” “Every one of these performances nailed a Nirvana tune in their own way,” he wrote.