All Apologies

Song Review by

"All Apologies" was the last song on what proved to be Nirvana's final studio album, In Utero; though hardly intentionally, it represents Nirvana's final words, and in the context of an album in which Kurt Cobain's psyche had been worn raw by the world around him, it sounds like a gesture of resignation and retreat. "What else should I be?/All apologies," he mutters, like a child who figures he should take back what he said to his parents, even though he meant every word of it, with his feelings wrapped around a melody that's simple but compelling (and the ideal framework for a clean but spidery guitar figure). "What else could I write?/I don't have the right," he says, seemingly to a world that made him a spokesman against his will. "I wish I was like you/Easily amused," he sneers to the mass audience that he seems to hold with a mixture of pity and contempt. And in closing, he announces sadly, to himself and all of us, "All in all is all we are." On In Utero, the song starts quietly and builds into a Marshall-stack fury in the second verse, only to retreat into near-a cappella quiet at the close; in the casual but more satisfying acoustic version on Unplugged in New York, the song comes to a head through the intensity of Cobain's performance, which is at once more impassioned but makes any hope of emotional liberation seem all the more unlikely. Either way, as a closer to the career of the most famously troubled rock star of the '90s, it was a sadly appropriate way to go -- a song suggesting the best was over, and little of worth awaited listeners, which may well have been how Cobain felt at the time.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
In Utero 1993 Geffen / DGC 3:50
No Image 1993 Geffen 3:50
Roma 1994 KTS
No Image 1994
Singles 1996 MCA 3:50
Nirvana 2002 Geffen / DGC 3:45
No Image 2003
Various Artists
With the Lights Out 2004 Geffen 3:33
No Image 2004 Nirvana 3:33
Sliver: The Best of the Box 2005 Geffen 3:33
All Acoustically Kiss the Stone 3:34
No Image