Heart Shaped Box

The beauty of Kurt Cobain’s songwriting is its ambiguity. The late Nirvana frontman’s lyrics have always defied direct interpretation. Indeed, it was only recently that the true meaning behind ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ was discovered after years of debate. According to Courtney Love, who opened up about the song in Michael Azerrad’s book Come as You Are, the 1993 offering is far more sexually charged than anyone expected.

When ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ was released, Cobain claimed the song was inspired by a television report about children suffering from cancer. While this may well have been the catalyst, many argue that the song actually focuses on the author’s fractious relationship with his wife, Courtney Love. After their first meeting, Love apparently sent Cobain a small heart-shaped box filled with bric-a-brac. It contained, among other things, a doll’s head separated from its body. The various references to Pisces and Cancer – Cobain and Love’s respective star signs – would seem to support this latter interpretation. But without Cobain to offer insight, the true meaning has remained a mystery.

That is until Lana Del Rey covered ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ in 2012. The performance reignited interest in the track and its hidden layers of meaning, leading Courtney Love to offer her own take. Taking to Twitter to lay the debate to rest once and for all, Love wrote: “You do know the song is about my vagina, right? ‘Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back,’ umm. On top of which some of the lyrics about my vagina I contributed. So umm next time you sing it, think about my vagina, will you?”


kurt cobain   cancer   vagina   courtney love