Nirvana: The Ugly Battle Over Kurt Cobain’s Final Song

Kurt Cobain’s Last Song “You Know You’re Right”

Today Rock N’ Roll True Stories looks at the ugly battle over Kurt Cobain’s final song “You Know You’re Right.” The song was at the center of a bitter dispute between Courtney Love and former members Dave Grohl and Krist Novaselic. Check it out below!

What’s going on my fellow rock n’ rollers. Don’t forget to hit the bell notification icon to be notified every time I put out a new video on my channel. Whenever band’s break up or fall apart or members pass away, it seems like after the mourning period, attention always turns to unreleased material. And probably one of the more recent examples I can think of include Soundgarden’s battle with Chris Cornell’s ex-wife over unreleased material, but back in the early 2000 there was a bitter legal battle that ensued over the last song Nirvana  recorded. What happened? Stay tuned to find out.


9 years after the release of Nirvana’s last studio album In Utero, fans were finally rewarded with a new song titled “You Know You’re Right”. Released on the band’s greatest hits collection that came out in october of 2002, the road to release the song was a long ugly one that even involved U2’s Bono

“You Know You’re Right” was written in 1993 and years prior to it’s release fans only knew about the song from a bootlegged live version that was recorded by Nirvana on october 23, 1993 at a show in Chicago. Even Kurt Cobain’s wife Courtney Love performed the song during her band Hole’s MTV Unplugged performance  in february of 1995. Nirvana would record the song in late January at Robert Lang Studios in Seattle approximately 2 months before Kurt Cobain would die.


The song would soon enough become the center of a legal dispute between the surviving members of Nirvana including drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Noaselic and Cobain’s widow Courtney Love. The dispute arose over how to release the song. There was talk in 2001 of releasing a massive compilation box set to honor the 10th anniversary of Nevermind and include the song on the box set. The box set was to be made up of 45-tracks that would have been compiled by Novoselic, . But in June of that year, Love filed suit and blocked it’s release.


So why did Courtney Love want to stop the song from being released on the box set? Well Love’s suit alleged that the song was would have been “wasted” on a box set and would be better-suited to a single-disc collection similar to The Beatles1. Her lawsuit called the song a “potential ‘hit’ of extraordinary artistic and commercial value,” and her manager claimed that a release with the song could sell upwards of 15 million copies.Novoselic responded claiming: “I’ve always considered everything she said. We’ve considered it and agreed and said, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea, Courtney.’ I tried to get along with Courtney as best I could, but there’s only so much you can do.” he’d say


And Love also sought exclusive ownership to Nirvana’s legacy trying to gain control over any unreleased material. Grohl and Novaselic would countersue and claimed that the box set they had been working on was in the works for 5 years already and only recently Love changed her mind at the last minute.


The legal battle got so ugly that as part of Love’s lawsuit she was trying to dissolve the Nirvana partnership claiming that  Nirvana was a one-man show, Love claimed that the band “could never be a partnership because it was in the living manifestation of the creative vision, personal will and life force of a single unique individual.”  Love also insisted that Cobain had decided to break up Nirvana several months before his death in 1994.


And the papers further allege that more than three years after Cobain’s death, Grohl and Novoselic took advantage of Love’s grief and coerced her into signing their current partnership agreement which gave the three equal control of Nirvana business. Since that time, she says the pair have interfered with a Kurt Cobain movie, prevented new Nirvana releases, and even threatened to destroy Nirvana recordings.


As for Love’s comments on what Cobain thought of his band mates, and his plans to break up the band, Novoselic says that they “dishonor Nirvana and dishonor the memory of her husband.”

He also accuses her of distorting the facts about Kurt’s life and death in interviews. The bassist would also claim that he and Grohl have refrained from granting interviews on the subject out of respect for Cobain and his family saying”Courtney offered up many interviews on the topic of Kurt’s life and death,” interviews which he claimed  contained “glaring inaccuracies.” In addition to that Novaselic and Grohl questioned love’s mental state and asked for her to see a psychiatrist.


At one point Bono of U2 almost got involved as it was reported that he would testify as a character witness for love when the case went to superior US court.


And by the following summer cooler heads would finally prevail and Novaselic and Grohl gave into Courtney Love’s demands prior to the case going to a higher court and agreed to release the song on a single disc release, which would be the group’s 2002 greatest hits album.


Fans would hear the first studio recording of the song in November of 2001 when CourtneyLove was interviewed by access hollywood and bits of the studio version of the song were played in the background . Earlier in the year Love had also played the full song at a private event in Hollywood in Los Angeles. Soon enough the Nirvana business partnership would have to deal with another obstacle prior to the song’s release. In May of 2002, four additional clips of the song would leaked online, with some claiming the source of the leak was it appearing on advance CD copies of Grohl’s heavy metal side project, Probot. Grohl would come out  and deny  the claims, saying, “I have never copied any version of ‘You Know You’re Right’ for anyone. It has been rumored on the Internet that the song appeared on a CD that had songs from my side project, Probot. No such CD exists.


On September 21, 2002, an unmastered MP3 full studio version of the song would be leaked online. Immediately tons of alternative rock stations across America started playing the song, which led to cease and desist letters being issued by the band’s label Geffen Records. Some radio stations would comply with the cease and desist letter while others would just ignore it . Several days after the leak, the popular Seattle radio station 107.7 The End posted a message on their website that announced, “We took your e-mails and flooded the server at Geffen Records with tons of choice words about their ‘You Know You’re Right’ cease and desist order. Due to the huge publicity outcry, the label relented on it’s letter and just simply released the track.

In late September of 2002, Love, Grohl and Novoselic would release a joint statement announcing the end of the lawsuit and that the single” would arrive as “a one-CD history of the band”  titled Nirvana later that year. The song would be released as a single and an accompanying music video consisting of live footage of the band would also be released. The song would also be re-released in 2010 for Nirvana’s second greatest hits album titled Icon.

And the song would prove to be massive hit becoming the band’s fourth song to enter the billboard hot 100 charts peaking at number 45.  And it was the group’s fifth song to top the modern rock charts where it stayed for one whole month. The song was also the group’s  first track to top the billboard mainstream rock charts with their previous highest position being  number 3 with their singles come as you are which came out in april of 1992 and about a girl which was released in december of 1994 from the band’s mtv unplugged show That does it for today’s video guys thanks for watching. Be sure to hit the like button and subscribe.  And if you have suggestions for future topics let me know in the comments section below. Take care.