5 Songs You Didn’t Know Dave Grohl Wrote for Nirvana

Born in Warren, Ohio in 1969, Dave Grohl moved around a lot as a young person. From Virginia to Chicago to Washington, D.C. Eventually, he landed on the West Coast and was introduced to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

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When Grohl joined the burgeoning grunge group as its hard-hitting drummer, things fell into place and the band soon became the biggest in the world, thanks to the group’s sophomore LP, Nevermind. But when Nirvana dissolved after Cobain’s death, Grohl found himself at another crossroads.

It was then he began writing his own songs in earnest, eventually forming his current rock project Foo Fighters. But before the Foos became the thing, Grohl was hammering away at the drum kit with his Seattle pals.

While that story may be known to some, what might not be known was the fact Grohl helped write a handful of songs for Nirvana. To wit, here are five songs music listeners likely didn’t know Grohl wrote with Nirvana.

1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Written by Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” released on the 1991 album, Nevermind, is the only record to be credited to all three band members—Cobain, Grohl, and bassist Krist Novoselic. It’s also the band’s most successful song to date and one of the iconic rock songs of all time. As the story goes, when Cobain showed Grohl and Krist the tune, he made them play it for an hour and a half. The tune began to slow down and Grohl wrote the drum beat, taking inspiration from, of all things, disco and groups like The Gap Band. The result is an all-time track.

2. “Scentless Apprentice”

Written by Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

From the band’s 1993 album, In Utero, which the group made in Seattle while Cobain was dealing with severe addiction, “Scentless Apprentice” was first written in a band rehearsal in 1992 while all three members were present. In fact, the main guitar riff was written by Grohl (listening to it now, you can hear the Foo Fighters’ influence). Cobain disparaged the riff in later interviews, saying in the book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, “It was such a cliché grunge” sound. “But I decided to write a song with that just to make [Grohl] feel better, to tell you the truth, and it turned out really cool.” Like the song above, this is the sole song on In Utero credited to all three band members.

3. “Aneurysm”

Written by Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

“Aneurysm” was first released in 1991 as the B-side to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Later, the song was released in 1992 as part of the Incesticide LP, a compilation album of B-sides, radio broadcasts, and more. The original session where this song was tracked was the first to include Grohl and it was recorded by longtime band live engineer Craig Montgomery.

4. “Endless, Nameless”

Written by Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

While “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the only official single off of Nevermind to include writing credits from all three band members, “Endless, Nameless,” a hidden track, does as well. The song didn’t even have a name until later pressings when it was released as a B-side with the single “Come As You Are.” According to Cobain in the book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, he wasn’t totally sure what he was singing in the song but believes the lyrics include I think I can, I know I can.

5. “Curmudgeon”

Written by Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

Released in 1992 as the B-side to the hit Nirvana song “Lithium” from Nevermind, this nightmarish rock song, “Curmudgeon” includes a tangy, screaming delivery from Cobain. The band had never played this song in full before recording it. The song feels like a horror movie, the protagonist running in the dark, wearing a hospital nightgown as monsters chase. It’s a hard-hitting rock song, to be sure.

Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

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