"Lithium" is a song by American rock band Nirvana. Written by frontman Kurt Cobain, the song is about a man who turns to religion amid thoughts of suicide. Nirvana first recorded "Lithium" in 1990 but then re-recorded the song the following year for the group's second album Nevermind (1991).
Released as the third single from Nevermind in July 1992, "Lithium" peaked at number 64 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 11 on the UK Singles Chart. The accompanying music video, directed by Kevin Kerslake, is a montage of concert footage.
Nirvana singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain described "Lithium" as "one of those songs I actually did finish while trying to write it instead of taking pieces of my poetry and other things." Nirvana recorded "Lithium" with producer Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin during April 1990. The material recorded at Smart Studios was intended for the group's second album for the independent record label Sub Pop. The book Classic Rock Albums: Nevermind (1998) stated that observers considered the session for "Lithium" as a key event in the developing rift between Cobain and drummer Chad Channing. Cobain was dissatisfied with Channing's drumming as their musical styles were inconsistent. Cobain told Channing to perform the drum arrangement he had devised for the song. According to Vig, Cobain overexerted his voice while recording vocals for "Lithium," which forced the band to halt recording. The songs from these sessions were placed on a demo tape and circulated within the music industry, generating interest in the group among major record labels.
After signing to DGC Records, Nirvana reconvened with Vig in May 1991 to work on its major label debut, Nevermind, at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California. Between the sessions, bassist Krist Novoselic simplified the bassline; he said, "I enriched the bass-playing a little more but that was about all that we changed." The recording session for "Lithium" was one of the most arduous for Vig and the group at Sound City. The band repeatedly sped up while recording the song, so Vig resorted to using a click track to maintain a consistent tempo. The producer suggested that new drummer Dave Grohl use simpler fills and patterns for the song, which resulted in a satisfactory instrumental take. Cobain's guitar track was more difficult to record. "Kurt wanted to be able to play the guitar very . . . not methodical—it needed to have this space," Vig recalled. "It had to be relaxed." Every time Cobain sped up, Vig called for another take. During the first day of recording the song, Cobain became so frustrated at the slow progress that the band instead began playing an instrumental jam it had been working on. Vig recorded the jam, later titled "Endless, Nameless," and it was inserted as a hidden track at the end of Nevermind. File Hashes
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