Come as you are - Nirvana

Analysis of an emblematic track of the grunge band Nirvana

Come as you are - Nirvana

3rd song of the inescapable album of Nirvana "Smells like teen spirit", the title "Come as you are" is a hymn to the acceptance of oneself and the others, but not only...

Kurt Cobain, singer and charismatic leader of the grunge group, tackles different themes such as the youthful suffering of a generation without a future, depression, addiction or the American society that disgusts him so much. "Come as you are" is a good synthesis of these themes. The lyrics, based on contradictions, evoke the uneasiness found in the young people of his generation, but also advocates an acceptance of oneself and others, a central theme of the grunge movement. Kurt Cobain says it himself: "this song is about people and what is expected of them". In this statement, we can perhaps see a conflict between the will to accept oneself and the norms dictated by the American society that he criticizes so much. The first lyrics of the song are as follows:“Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be”.

At first, self-acceptance is put forward. In connection with the grunge movement, the notion of acceptance is found as much in the ideas as in the clothing style. (pants with holes, clothes of recovery, dilapidated style). But the sentence ends with "as I want you to be". Is it really possible to be oneself in a country where one is immersed in an ideology and a societal system from a very young age? The cover of the album where we see a baby swimming in a swimming pool, the glance fixed on a banknote, echoes this question. The rest of the lyrics illustrate this contradictory spirit:

"as a friend, as an old enemy"
"Take your time, hurry up."

There is an apparent uneasiness, like two contradictory voices that dictate everything and its opposite inside his head. It is known that Kurt Cobain suffered from depression, accentuated by his drug use. This unhealthy ambivalence forced him to inflict violence on himself: "I swear that I don't have a gun". As fate would have it, his story turned into reality when he committed suicide with a gun 3 years after releasing this title.

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