Nirvana: Where Did You Sleep Last Night? Meaning
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Where Did You Sleep Last Night? Lyrics
Tell me, where did you sleep last night?
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun dont ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through
My girl, my girl, where will you go?
Im going where the cold wind...
anonymous Dec 18th, 2012 12:28pm report
It's not the husband asking, for he's already been killed. An older variation called her as "black girl" rather than "my girl". These questions might be asked by anyone, from a caring friend our relative or God. Her husband died and she mourns deeply. That's it, and nothing deeper.
anonymous Jul 18th, 2012 7:29pm report
in the pines ,,,the cemetary, after she loses her husband,
anonymous Jun 9th, 2012 6:28am report
well i can say for sure the part about the head in the "driver's wheel" has nothing to do with a car accident, that part's been in this song since the 1800's and refers to a drive (powered) wheel of a locomotive, the body was never found because it was left laying where the head was twisted off by the wheel. The rest of the song I'm not sure about, it's been interpreted many different ways over the decades.
anonymous Mar 5th, 2012 3:39pm report
Her husband was a railroad man.
He was killed a mile and a half from here.
His head was found in the driver wheel (of the railroad locomotive)
And his body has never been found (anywhere along the tracks of the railroad)
The Black Girl (My Girl) was so consumed with grief that she fled to the forest and spent the night there contemplating suicide. (Where the cold winds blow)
anonymous Jan 18th, 2012 1:09pm report
the original song is very old i believe. It's an folk song from America. it's about a guy and his wife who were missing, and later found in the pines decapitated (his head was found in a driving wheel). atleast, this is what i heard. there are many different story's about this folklore.
anonymous Oct 17th, 2011 10:56pm report
I think it was just a cover of the original folk song, with the lyrics changed mostly to be more modern.
For instance, "My girl" instead of "Black girl"; "where did you sleep last night" instead of "where did you stay last night"; "hard working man" instead of "railroad man".
The part that Nirvana dropped at the end was:
"Black girl, black girl, where will you go
Im going where the cold wind blows
You called me weak, and you called me the most
You called rita, bring me back home."
This doesn't make much sense but probably did 100 years ago.
I think it is about a woman grieving for her lost husband. And in terms of Nirvana, it can be about grief. The pines is probably a pine forest. The parts "my girl" and "don't lie to me" make the song sound like it is about an affair. But I don't think that Nirvana intended to change it that much from its original meaning. It's a powerful song by itself.
anonymous Sep 3rd, 2011 9:38pm report
Its all about the insecure feelings you have when you submit to the love of another. Your mind races when there is a prolonged absence and you don't hear from your significant other...
anonymous Jun 8th, 2011 6:25pm report
With these words it's only interpretations within the eyes of the beholder.
anonymous Jun 8th, 2011 6:47pm report
This song is sung by the woman's dead husband, whose ghost returns home to discover that she is no longer sleeping in their bed. Did she play a part in his death? Did an unknown lover? The husband's spirit is confined to the walls of their house and therefore can not learn the answer unless she reveals herself there.
anonymous May 25th, 2011 5:44pm report
Leadbelly did not write the song. It's an old folk song, most likely with Appalachian roots, and was around for probably over 50 years before Leadbelly recorded it.
anonymous Apr 11th, 2011 4:49am report
There is no exact meaning to this song. I think its whatever you make it out to be. I for one believe its a song about an affair. I think 'I'd shiver the whole night through' means he doesnt understand how she could do that to him.
anonymous Mar 22nd, 2011 3:33am report
"In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun dont ever shine"
This line pretty much sums up the vast majority of this song. The girlfriend/other significant other was sleeping with someone else...I don't need to go any further with "where the sun doesn't shine" most of us guys already know what that is referring to, lol.
anonymous Oct 29th, 2010 10:22am report
This song isn't about love, it's about the US government's ongoing racism, theft and murder of american-indians.
"The Pines" means the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the "body that never was found" is referring to one of the many native american activists murdered by the FBI or by the "GOONS" group they funded to disarm the "AIM" group of American-Indian activists who were trying to prevent violent state incursions on their land and government theft of resources.
For one article on the issue:
Another song that makes a mention of the reservations is Ani Difranco's song "Self Evident", where she says:
"so here's a toast to all the folks who live in Palestine
here's a toast to the folks living on the pine ridge reservation
under the stone cold gaze of mt. Rushmore
here's a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice
who stand down a threat the size of Oklahoma City
just to listen to a young woman's voice"
listen to the song, and check out the other articles on the international socialist review website. It's tragic when the messages of songs get lost because the history behind them is 'inconvenient' for the government to teach in schools.
JasmineStar Sep 4th, 2010 9:50am report
This song is one that is covered from Leadbelly on by many great blues artists, perhaps because of the depth of feeling. If Kurt would cover a song it is a classic choice. However there may be some emotional tone to this song that resonates from when in his childhood his mothers boyfriend was known for bashing the family and had hospitalized his mother, and it is said his mother drank to compensate. In a sense if a mother becomes emotionally detached or dead to her child while the victim of abuse and the child fears the mother will be killed completely, it would fit the stark lonely landscape of this song.
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