Kurt would have wanted it that way


Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working in the office next to Danny, a phenomenally talented fellow, not just a stellar programmer but also an accomplished pianist, singer, video game restorer, and skier. I remember when he was working on DirectSound3D, we would sometimes put our heads together to nail the formulas for effects such as Doppler shifts. Particularly satisfying was when we attacked the problem from two directions and arrived at what initially seemed like different answers, but after some algebraic manipulation turned out to be the same thing. When you can solve a problem in two totally different ways and get the same answer, you can be pretty confident that you got it right.

One of the sounds he used during testing was Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. I remember a bug was filed that went something like "If you position the listener like so and put the sound source over there, start playing Smells Like Teen Spirit, then move the sound source along this path here, then when it reaches that point right there, the music comes out distorted." Danny's initial response was, "Kurt would have wanted it that way."

And then he set to fixing the bug.

In related news, Paul Anka, the man who wrote the theme to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the words to Frank Sinatra's My Way, and over 900 other songs, has turned the tables on all the singers who covered his songs by covering landmark rock music songs. Including Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. [WM] [Real] And this time you can understand the words.

A colleague of mine pointed out that Paul Anka didn't write the music to My Way:

The funny thing is how in your link they admit it, and at the same time shamelessly ignore it, calling it a 'seminal composition':

What was the story behind the writing of 'My Way' and was it written specifically for Frank Sinatra?

Paul first heard the French song, Comme D'habitude, in the summer of 1967 when he was in Europe. Although it had different lyrics and a much different feel, Paul instantly connected with the melody. After running into Frank Sinatra, in Florida, who mentioned retiring sometime soon, he asked Paul when was he going to write something for him... so Paul, determined to do just that, returned to New York, sat down at the piano at 1 a.m. and wrote the song. Five hours later, this seminal composition was finished and was sent to Sinatra. ...

Comments (10)
  1. Bramster says:

    Here, in Ottawa, Ontario (not Ottawa, Illinois, or Ottawa, Ohio), which was Paul Anka’s home town, if you meet a woman who’s name is Diana, you’ve got a pretty good idea of how old she is. . . and how shallow her parents were.

  2. Erbo says:

    For yet another take on "Smells Like Teen Spirit," check out the San Francisco band Smash-Up Derby (http://www.smashupderby.com/). They combined the music of "Teen Spirit" with the lyrics of Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean" and got…well, you’ll just have to download the MP3 and hear for yourself.

  3. ReubenH says:

    Funny, it still sounds pretty distorted to me…

    Btw, what does a "video game restorer" actually do?

  4. memet says:

    Oh man, you made my day with the Paul Anka version of Teenspirit!

    Thanks.

  5. JenK says:

    That Paul Anka version is amazing. Have you ever listened to http://www.iloverichardcheese.com/clips.html Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine? Check out the clip of http://www.iloverichardcheese.com/media/vids/richardcheese-jimmykimmel.wmv Baby Got Back.

    Re: Danny, I enjoyed his piano playing the few times I heard it. And I’m pretty sure that was his Tempest machine I played for hours on end….

  6. My Way and Life On Mars says:

    Another piece of interesting fact about My Way is that David Bowie was actually the first who lay his hands on the french original working on the English cover. But Paul Anka somehow showed up in the picture and grabbed the rights on the piece for free. Anyway the end of the story is Bowie got really vexed about that and wrote Life On Mars (a great piece) in a new melody based on the exact same chords. Listen to it on http://music.msn.com.

  7. Carlos says:

    A comedy Smells Like Teen Spirit cover by The Moog Cookbook:

    http://music.msn.com/album/?album=41486247

  8. Jonathan says:

    Other Smells Like Teen Spirit covers and stuff:

    * Q-Mix’s mixed it with Destiny’s Child Bootilicous (SP?)

    * Tori amos did a soft version

    * Wierd Al, of course

    I’m sure there are a bajilion more.

  9. Ben Hutchings says:

    Yet more interesting covers of SLTS:

    Opium Jukebox: http://www.emusic.com/album/10591/10591936.html

    Ragnar Bjarnason: http://www.aprilwinchell.com/multimedia/

  10. Robert Mooney says:

    … he’s finished rolling in his grave if anyone else wants to further mangle his work.

    Oi vey.

Comments are closed.