Ranking Every Nirvana Song – Part Twenty-Three: “Tourette’s” vs “Stain”

With only about fifty songs left to go, we’re closing in on the halfway mark of this project. Looking at the list of remaining songs, I’m starting to realize that we’ve already covered a good percentage of the “big” songs, and that there will be a lot of posts coming that are sort of devoted to either the mushy middle or to rarities that really aren’t so spectacular.

I’m okay with it, because these are fun to write, but seeing this through to the end might sometimes feel like a bit of a slog. But this is my slog, and I love it.

This post? Sort of a mushy middle post, albeit a post in the mushy middle that features two songs that I have felt a great deal of affection for at various moments of my life.

Now the songs!


When I was a teen, this was actually one of my very favourite songs on In Utero and probably one of my favourite Nirvana songs in general.

It is very fun! It might still be one of the Nirvana songs that I consider to be the most fun, although I can now acknowledge the relatively slight nature of the song when stacked up against some of the band’s more substantial work.

As a beginning guitarist, it’s a revelation to learn how to play power chords and then figure out a riff as dead simple but essentially perfect as the riff that anchors “Tourette’s”. This is basically what I thought that “pop punk” should be. Not that Green Day slop, or your Blink 182 blechpile. Give me a catchy and grindy mosh riff and scream your face off overtop of it. Now we’re talking music.

Let’s go bullet point for the rest of this:

  • The drum fill that pulls the rhythm section into this song is perfect.
  • Have always loved the feedback squeals that open the song. This album is probably the album that gave me a lifelong love of feedback.
  • For years I tried to master playing the guitar lick during the “Hey!” part of this song, while also singing it, and I’m not sure that I ever got it. I am… not good.
  • This song might actually be better served by its nonsense lyrics than it would have been by proper lyrics? It is hard to say. But I have always, always loved this gibberish.

Great song. Still rocks.


Let’s talk about when I was a teen again. When I was a teen, this was probably one of my favourite songs on Incesticide. I’m not sure that I feel entirely the same way currently, but there’s a lot to like about “Stain”.

The tune is centered around a pretty badass (if cookie-cutter) buzzsaw grunge riff. Certainly one of the first songs I would have tried to tackle learning how to play after discovering drop-D tuning. I feel like this riff is sort of a prototypical and lamer version of the riff that would later be featured in “I Hate Myself And I Want To Die”, a song that I really love that we haven’t covered yet.

This song feels like a real bridge between the ├╝ber-grunge sound of Bleach and the catchier material that would later land on Nevermind. There’s something really menacing about the verses, which seem more menacing still due to the very strange, tight tin-can delay effect applied to the vocals on this recording. The chorus doesn’t break up the grinding vibe of the song, but it definitely features a rudimentary hook that I feel is pretty catchy.

This is a decidedly middle-tier Nirvana tune. My complaints about it aren’t super significant, but I don’t think it’s going to top many people’s list.

The Ranking

“Tourette’s” is a better song than “Stain”.

I feel like “Tourette’s” may be better (to me) than “Love Buzz”? This pegs it higher than “Rape Me”, which seems weird given the significance of that song, but if I’m being honest, I think that “Rape Me” is maybe my least favourite song on In Utero. So for this list… “Tourette’s” landing at about that range feels right.

I’ll park “Stain” in between “Moist Vagina” and “Mr Moustache”, which is a very weird sentence to type.

The updated ranking is:

  1. In Bloom
  2. Heart-Shaped Box
  3. About A Girl
  4. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
  5. Breed
  6. Scentless Apprentice
  7. Territorial Pissings
  8. Sappy
  9. Dumb
  10. Very Ape
  11. Lithium
  12. Serve The Servants
  13. On A Plain
  14. Drain You
  15. Polly
  16. Lounge Act
  17. Stay Away
  18. Sliver
  19. Tourette’s
  20. Love Buzz
  21. Blew
  22. School
  23. Rape Me
  24. Been A Son
  25. Endless Nameless
  26. Son of a Gun
  27. Curmudgeon
  28. Moist Vagina
  29. Stain
  30. Mr Moustache
  31. Big Cheese
  32. Marigold
  33. Paper Cuts
  34. Lake of Fire
  35. Swap Meet
  36. Downer
  37. Scoff
  38. Aero Zeppelin
  39. Even In His Youth
  40. Oh, The Guilt
  41. Pen Cap Chew
  42. Do You Love Me?
  43. Ain’t It A Shame
  44. Clean Up Before She Comes
  45. Help Me I’m Hungry
  46. Beans

“In Bloom” is still the greatest Nirvana song of all time!

Live Clip of the Week!

Author: markmeeks

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