Sturgill Simpson’s Reinvented Version of Nirvana’s “In Bloom”:
The biggest switch in meaning for “In Bloom” is when Sturgill Simpson adds a crucial line to the phrase “…but he don’t know what it means, don’t know what it means …to love someone.” Jon Freeman said, “While that idea may be implied in Kurt Cobain’s original, it’s a distinction made all the more poignant by the fact that Simpson recoreded the song and his new album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth especially for his young son” (RollingStone). That’s a strong implication — I grew up with Nirvana, and the line never suggested “love” to me — it was all about where you came from, what you experienced, and how a person processes information. In Simpson’s version, it’s almost like he injected positive-humanity into the piece. Adding those three little words — to love someone — drastically catapults the philosophical nature of the piece into a more loving “coming of age tale.” Freeman quoted Simpson, who said, “…when [Nevermind] dropped, it was like a bomb went off in my bedroom. For me, that song has always summed up what it means to be a teenager, and I think it tells a young boy that he can be sensitive and compassionate — he doesn’t have to be tough or cold to be a man” (RollingStone). Stevie Chick said, “It’s a grand, earnest theme to tackle, risking mawkishness along the way, but Simpson invests this bold, widescreen music with such heartfelt and real pathos and joy that it announces him as a major talent…” (MoJo).
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