Before Kurt Cobain uttered their name during the 1993 taping of MTV Unplugged, most people had never heard of the Meat Puppets. Even fewer people would have recognized brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood sitting on stage with Nirvana, had Cobain not shouted them out specifically. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Curt Kirkwood looks back on the seminal performance, which he surprisingly describes as “pretty casual.”
“I knew it was really good when it was happening,” Kirkwood says. “I was privileged to sit through the whole thing and be able to watch it until I had to go play, myself. It was like a real show with a real vibe. There were no retakes or anything. What you see is what happened.”
What happened was that Nirvana, then at the height of their powers, played an intimate set of fourteen songs, nearly half of which were covers. They were one tour with the Meat Puppets at the time and when the band sat down to plan out their set, including some of their tourmates songs seemed like a no-brainer.
“Kurt’s like, ‘We’ll do some Meat Puppets songs because they would sound good unplugged,’” remembers Nirvana bassist Kris Novoselic. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, quite frankly, if we could get Curt and Cris to join us, then we would really nail it because they know the songs.’”
After a quick rehearsal that allowed the band to “learn the songs enough to not fuck ‘em up,” the Kirkwoods joined Nirvana on stage for covers of “Plateau,” “Oh Me,” and “Lake of Fire,” thus exposing a wider audience to their specific brand of twangy, psychedelic punk. Despite having a friendship with Cobain at the time, Curt doesn’t deny the thrill of seeing the Nirvana frontman perform his songs on stage. “Really the coolest part was, if anybody from the rock scene is gonna sing that stuff, that would have been one of my choices,” Kirkwood tells Rolling Stone, adding that if he could get George Jones to cover his songs, “that would be cool, too.”
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