As is the case with most of Nirvana’s other songs, the evidence for the history of creation and attempts to interpret the meaning of the song Heart-Shaped Box are full of contradictions. Kurt Cobain, who composed it, spoke little about his offspring, so we can only rely on the statements of Courtney Love, members of Nirvana and numerous researchers of the work of the famous American grunge band.
The story of creation and the meaning of the song Heart-Shaped Box
It is believed that the first drafts of the song were ready in early 1992, but Kurt abandoned it for a while and returned to work on the track only after moving to the Hollywood Hills. Love said in an interview with Rolling Stone that she heard him write the main riff, but Cobain responded to her attempts to find out something with rudeness.
It is difficult to judge if Courtney was involved in the process of creating the Heart-Shaped Box, and even if she was in this case a source of inspiration for Kurt. He himself said that he wrote the song after watching a TV show about children with cancer, and in the chorus he sings about how he is perceived by the media.
However, these explanations did not seem convincing to his biographers. They believe that the Heart-Shaped Box is dedicated to the author’s relationship with Courtney, and the title implies a box with dried roses, a tea cup, shells and a porcelain doll that Love once gave Cobain. Admittedly, this version of the interpretation of the song sounds very plausible.
Naturally, Courtney also supports this version. Moreover, in her stories she went even further and stated that Heart-Shaped Box is a song about her Fanny (She tweeted about this after Lana Del Rey sang the song). Whether such statements are to be taken seriously is up to you.
Recording and release of the song Heart-Shaped Box
Studio work on the composition was difficult. According to Cobain, he counted on the active participation of other bandmates in composing the song, but he did not get anything sensible from them and was forced to rely only on himself. The Heart-Shaped Box recording was followed by an equally complex mixing process. The musicians and producers did not like Steve Albini’s mix, so they brought in Scott Litt, who did a better job.
On August 30, 1993, the song was featured as the first single from In Utero. It did not make the Billboard Hot 100, but topped the contemporary tracks chart. In the UK, Heart-Shaped Box climbed to number five on the national charts.
Video of Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana
A spectacular video clip with unusual images was shot by the Dutch director Anton Corbijn, who had to take into account the numerous wishes of the Nirvana leader. The video won two awards at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards.
- The video was supposed to be directed by Kevin Kerslake, who had previously directed videos for several other Nirvana songs, but the band chose Corbijn. She was later sued by Kerslake for using his ideas. After Kurt’s death, the process was stopped.
- Writer William Burroughs was invited to star in the video, but he refused.
Heart Shaped Box Lyrics by Nirvana
She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak
I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet
Cut myself on angel hair and baby’s breath
Broken hymen of your Highness, I’m left back
Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back
Lyrics of Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana Alternate
She look at me like a Pisces when I’m weak
I’ve been locked up in your heart shaped box for weeks
I was pulled like a magnet into your sticky tape trap
Wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black
I have a new complaint
Forever indebted for your priceless advice
Carnivorous orchids haven’t forgiven anyone yet
I cut myself on the hair of an angel and the breath of a child
Torn hymen of your highness, I was left in the cold
Throw me your umbilical cord so I can climb back