Stay Away – Unpacking the Grunge Anthem of Discontent


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Nirvana's Stay Away at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Mirror of Monotony: ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’
  5. Rebelling Against the Convention: ‘Rather be Dead than Cool’
  6. The Hidden Meaning Behind ‘Less is More, Love is Blind’
  7. Dressed in Irony: The Unforgettable ‘Fashion Shits, Fashion Style’
  8. The Final Provocation: ‘God is Gay’

Lyrics

Monkey see, monkey do
(I don’t know why)
Rather be dead than cool
(I don’t know why)
Every line ends in rhyme
(I don’t know why)
Less is more, love is blind
(I don’t know why)

Stay
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away

Give an inch, take a smile
(I don’t know why)
Fashion shits, fashion style
(I don’t know why)
Throw it out and keep it in
(I don’t know why)
Have to have poison skin
(I don’t know why)

Stay
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away

I don’t know why
I don’t know why

Stay
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away

Monkey See, monkey do
I don’t know why)
Rather be dead than cool
(I don’t know why)
Every line ends in rhyme
(I don’t know why)
Less is more, love is blind
(I don’t know why)

Stay
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away

I don’t know why
I don’t know why

Stay
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away

Stay
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away
Stay away
God is Gay

Full Lyrics

The gritty grunge era of the early ’90s was punctuated with anthems that encapsulated the angst and disillusionment of a generation—a zenith crystallized by the music of Nirvana. Among their arsenal of introspection and raw emotion stands ‘Stay Away’, a track from their seminal album ‘Nevermind’.

Laden with the distinctive snarl of Kurt Cobain, ‘Stay Away’ dazzles with its abrasive melody and searing lyrics that slice through the facade of societal expectations. It remains a staple in the shrine of alternative rock, but beyond its compelling sound lies a web of implications waiting to be unraveled.

The Mirror of Monotony: ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’

The song’s thumping intro launches us into a critique of conformity with the primate parallel—’Monkey see, monkey do’. Cobain vocalizes the mimicry prevalent in society, a world where originality gasps for air amidst the copycat culture. This metaphor isn’t just about mimicry; it’s a rebellion against the pressure to conform.

This line wields a double-edged sword—it criticizes those who follow the herd, but also acknowledges a primal instinct within us all to adhere to social norms. It’s a bleak acknowledgement of the robotic routines we succumb to, hinting at the despair of the individual in their quest for authenticity.

Rebelling Against the Convention: ‘Rather be Dead than Cool’

With a single cutting phrase, ‘Rather be dead than cool’, Cobain dissects the paradox of counter-culture movements themselves becoming mainstream. It’s a repudiation of the very idea of ‘coolness’ as it becomes commodified and packaged for mass consumption.

This is Cobain’s antithesis to the pressure of keeping up with trends that are perpetually sold to us as the emblems of success and acceptance. The dissonance between self-expression and the desire to fit in is clear, and Cobain opts to champion individualism over acquiescence.

The Hidden Meaning Behind ‘Less is More, Love is Blind’

The line ‘Less is more, love is blind’ can easily be glossed over as an attack on minimalist trends or romantic clichés, but there’s a deeper resonance here. It speaks to the commercialization of emotions and relationships, where authenticity is lost to the narratives we are fed.

In this sense, ‘Stay Away’ isn’t just articulating disgust with material superficiality, but also with the intangible—how society shapes and distorts our perceptions of love and value, leaving us disillusioned.

Dressed in Irony: The Unforgettable ‘Fashion Shits, Fashion Style’

Nirvana was never one to shy away from the incendiary. ‘Fashion shits, fashion style’ is a caustic debunking of the fashion industry’s cyclical nature and its grip on identity. Cobain disdains the transience of fashion trends, painting them as wasteful and superficial.

In a broader scope, this line challenges the relentless consumerism plaguing society. Cobain throws this line like a grenade to disrupt the veneer of innovation in fashion, revealing a hollow chase after novelty at the cost of sustainability and authenticity.

The Final Provocation: ‘God is Gay’

The songs culminating declaration—’God is Gay’—stirs immense controversy, but it’s a deliberate provocation that has been examined for its potential symbolism. It challenges homophobia and the conservative religious rhetoric that often accompanies it.

While some read it as an off-color jest or a combative statement against religious condemnation, it encapsulates Cobain’s tendency to mirror society’s prejudices back unto itself. The shock value of this line serves to confront the listener, demanding a reappraisal of their beliefs and prejudices.

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