Here’s a musical coincidence I simply refuse to believe.
I was listening to More Wharf: Australian Crawl Greatest Hits over the weekend, and enjoying those songs on the compilation that I haven’t heard constantly on the radio over the last twenty years. Track 11 on More Wharf is “Daughters Of The Northern Coast” which was apparently released as a single in 1982, but I didn’t remember it at all (it did only reach number 76, which could account for me not hearing it at the time). As soon as the song started, I thought “Whoah! You’re kidding!” etc. I rubbed my ears in disbelief, had another listen and went “Whoah! You’re kidding!” all over again. Here’s a song that starts pretty much exactly the way that Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” starts – same quiet guitar, same guitar rhythm, same four bars of aforementioned quiet guitar followed by drum fill to start the song properly etc. Exactly the same.
Don’t believe me? Have a listen to this:
I know. Me, too.
I’m fully aware that Kurt Cobain regularly stated in interviews how he stole his quiet-then-loud song dynamics from the Pixies, but come on – here’s a bit of music from the Southern Hemisphere in the 1980s that predates both Nirvana and the Pixies. How’s that for a bizarre musical coincidence?
It’s gotta be a coincidence, though. I mean, there’s absolutely no way that Kurt Cobain had ever heard Australian Crawl growing up in Washington. Is there?
Nirvana did play in Australia, but only once. They appeared at the very first Big Day Out in 1992 – but it’s the kind of musical festival where the music played there isn’t old radio-friendly songs from no-longer-hip bands. Consequently, I can safely say that there’s very little chance, if at all, that any of the members of Nirvana heard anything that wasn’t currently fashionable during their week or so in Australia.
(Useless aside: I saw Australian Crawl play at a soccer club in the northern suburbs of Adelaide in the 80’s when they riding the crest of their popularity wave. It was also the height of the pub rock era, with audiences full of hairy men in flannelette shirts and jeans, drinking copious amounts of beer and shouting for more songs and more beer. Australian Crawl played well, but the comment I remember most fondly from the night was when they came on to the stage to play their first song, and lead singer James Reyne looked out at the crowd and said, “I’ve never seen so many beards in one place before…”)
Update: Musical coincidences # 25a
Courtesy of commenting commenter Dee (Hi, Dee!), here’s an Australian Crawl song that may have been appropriated by Guns n’ Roses: