This is the second installment of Nevermind Miami, a tribute to the generation-defining album Nirvana released 20 years ago, on September 24, 1991. To commemorate the occasion, we have asked local musicians to cover each of the 13 songs on the original release. We will be posting the covers throughout September in no particular order.
First up in this installment, we have PLAINS covering “Lithium”, track five on Nevermind. PLAINS frontman (and, at times, only man) Michael McGinnis recently released the band’s debut album to (our) rave review. A prolific songwriter and self-described “studio rat”, McGinnis says he doesn’t have “any memory of hearing Nevermind for the first time.”
“It’s just one of those records that was always around cause everyone had it,” he says. “Any time I revisit it though, I realize more and more how much it influenced me.”
Revisiting “Lithium”, McGinnis accentuates the bass-driven groove of Nevermind’s grooviest track and adds a church-worthy Mellotron behind Kurt Cobain’s dismissal of Sunday morning in a cover that pays homage to the original tune.
Next up, we’ve got Pocket of Lollipops — lo-fi husband-wife duo Tony Kapel and Maitejosune Urrechaga — covering “Polly”, track six off of Nevermind. Here’s Urrechaga reminiscing about the song.
Polly for me goes back to one of the first songs I learned to play on bass. It was a repetitive song in my brain for over three months so when we had the opportunity to cover a song from the Nevermind album I picked Polly and then told Tony that we were covering it. The song made me go back to a place I had not been to in a long time. A place when you do and try something for the first time and someone tells you that you will not be able to succeed at it.
Kapel saw Nirvana play Bayfront Park nearly 18 years ago. He says recording “Polly” let Pocket of Lollipops “lock down” a personal rendition of a tune he and his wife have long warmed up on in practice sessions. Here he describes his approach to covering the song, which reportedly alludes to the 1987 kidnapping and rape of a girl named Polly by a man named Gerald Friend.
Research of the song revealed the dark inspiration for its up front message of someone helpless. The table turned and Polly is free. We wanted to bring an upbeat beat to it. Maite also intertwined her own lyrics into the chorus as if she were Polly talking to Gerald, the rapist. Nirvana for us was and is nostalgic.
Here’s Pocket of Lollipops with “Polly”.
The first installment of Nevermind Miami featured a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by the Baby B Strings. You can keep up with the series throughout September on beachedmiami.com/nevermind-miami.