Heart Shaped Box

Song Review by

According to Michael Azerrad's book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, shortly after Courtney Love first met Kurt Cobain, she made him a gift of a heart-shaped box, filled with tiny toys, seashells, and pine cones. While no one can say for sure if the song "Heart Shaped Box," from Nirvana's album In Utero, was intended to offer a glimpse inside Cobain and Love's sometimes stormy relationship (in the same book, Cobain told Azerrad his initial inspiration for the tune was a report about children with cancer), it certainly seems to be about two dysfunctional people torn between emotional need and deep-seated hatred. A woman is preying on a man's weakness as he's drawn into her "magnet tar pit trap," but he can't hide his own unwholesome attraction to her, declaring "I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black" and begging to climb up her "umbilical noose." The song makes clear the man is as much to blame as the woman for this state of affairs, and the chorus even parodies his weakness, declaring, "Hey/Wait/I've got a new complaint." The song married its often morbid images with a slow, deliberate melody that made inspired use of the then-standard Nirvana formula of quiet verse/loud chorus, and while Kurt Cobain's voice and guitar were the song's obvious focus, the intelligent support of bassist Krist Novoselic and percussionist Dave Grohl was especially evident in this performance, made all the more intense by Steve Albini's stark production.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
In Utero 1993 Geffen / DGC 4:39
No Image 1993 Geffen 4:39
Roma 1994 KTS
No Image 1994
Singles 1996 MCA 4:39
No Image 2000 Diamond Recordings
Nirvana 2002 Geffen / DGC 4:39
With the Lights Out 2004 Geffen 5:31
No Image 2004 Nirvana 5:30
Sliver: The Best of the Box 2005 Geffen 5:33
The Work of Director Anton Corbijn [DVD] 2005
Various Artists
Icon 2010 Geffen 4:40
All Acoustically Kiss the Stone 4:31
No Image
No Image