"Where Did You Sleep Last Night" as written by Huddie Ledbetter....
My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through

My girl, my girl, where will you go
I'm going where the cold wind blows
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through

Her husband, was a hard working man
Just about a mile from here
His head was found in a driving wheel
But his body never was found

My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through

My girl, my girl, where will you go
I'm going where the cold wind blows
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through

My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through

My girl, my girl, where will you go
I'm going where the cold wind blows
In the pines, in the pines
The sun, shine
I would shiver the whole night through


Lyrics submitted by bonj, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" as written by Huddie Ledbetter

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, T.R.O. INC.

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Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Lead Belly cover) song meanings
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137 Comments

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  • +12
    General CommentI'm not sure it matters, the why and the what of Kurt's performance of this song. We all agree it's incredible, haunting, the most amazing performance we've ever witnessed. The synergy of the conversation beforehand, Leadbelly being his favorite performer, the $500,000 for the guitar, all of that, then followed by a performance that eclipsed Leadbelly as a performer, and in some way brought Kurt's guitars up to the millions they sell for now. It all comes together in a way that is just fucking moving.

    I don't know if Kurt intended any personal meaning to the song. Maybe it was a blast at Courtney. Maybe it entails all of his depression and suicidal thoughts, to say as the first line of his goodbye note, the "experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee." But maybe, and this is what I think most, and for his sake I hope it's true, maybe for his final performance for the world (whether he committed suicide, or just intended to walk away and was murdered for it, I think he knew this was his farewell) he just wanted to play a song he loved the best from a musician who was his "favorite performer." He said himself afterward that he could never top it. I think from the perspective of a musician that's the power of the song and the performance. I have no musical ability, but an intense love for it. The look, the moment when his eyes open was overwhelming when I saw it first, also the first I'd heard the song. I think I'd most have to call that look freedom and love. Love of music, and freedom, the feeling, the total deep down inner emotion more powerful than any other that he and so many others find in music. His goodbye note talks of how it wasn't the crowd he loved. There is no doubt though that he loved music as much as any man ever has. You don't get to be that good, you don't have that emotion in your songs without an absolute love of it. He lost that love at the end, but I'm all but certain that instant his eyes open he's feeling again the freedom in music that had been absent as his life spiraled out of control. I think having lost that feeling is what caused the spiral. I don't know. I can't know. To know the mind of that great a man must require an equal mind, and I'm not sure such a thing has ever existed.

    No, the why and the what of this song don't carry any meaning at all, at least not any that can compare to the meaning of a man capable of such amazing performance and such raw emotion. That's what makes us all shiver.
    spartacus51on June 22, 2009   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI swear this song gets better every time I hear it. It is AMAZING. Kurt's voice is just so incredibly raw and heartfelt - it's like he's bleeding inside and you can hear it in every sound he makes. When he pauses near the end after the word "shiver" I actually do shiver, every time. He was incredible.
    MisSpiFFanyon May 01, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI think it's a guy singing about his girl cheating on him.
    The 1st verse is him accusing her of the cheating "last night" when she didn't come home.
    The 2nd verse is him leaving her, which is lonely, cold and dark. Like being alone in a forest is how he feels. Maybe it's a "pine" forest because he'll be pining (adj. for yearning, suffering)?
    And the 3rd verse that's only said once is the guy's obituary from third person. A "hard working man," we are sympathetic with him when he's cheated on, and he apparently drives off and kills himself in a wreck. This is probably a sarcastic remark you might make after breaking up with someone, like "bye, screw you, I'm gonna go drive off a bridge!".
    To me, this song has a different meaning than the original folk version, having different lyrics. Probably why Kurt chose it as it must have spoken to him more.
    cwzaggeron December 17, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIt's possible I'm being melodramatic and reading far too much into this, but I believe that at the time this was recorded Kurt had already made up his mind he would be ending his life sometime soon. I believe that it's quite possible he understood how powerful this unplugged record would be and that he had designated it as both his and the band's last big hurrah. You can tell that Kurt pours his entire being into this performance and like someone said earlier, nearly all the songs have to do with death and despair. He had talked about going out in a blaze of glory while he was on top his entire life. The last line in the song, where he pauses, it almost feels like a sigh of relief that it will all soon be over.

    I believe that Kurt Cobain was one of the most fascinating and talented storytellers of his time, especially for the many of us who've had less-than-perfect childhoods and struggle to find that sense of self-worth that a divorce will steal from you as a child. He didn't tell stories to your mind, he told stories to your heart. I believe that he was consumed by emotions that not many people understand and I think that was part of his frustration. I think that he sang intensely personal songs that people interpreted as songs about sex and drugs and all kinds of crap. I think that he was a very simple, almost child-like, man who just wanted to be surrounded by all things beautiful and gentle.

    To this day, over ten years after his death, I still get misty-eyed thinking about what he was...and what he could have been.
    spotchesteron January 05, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwow...
    i got chills the very first time i heard it! If you've ever seen or heard Nirvana Unplugged you'll know what I'm talkin' about. It's amazing how Kurt's voice has that much impact.I don't know what the song means. It's hard when you blowing away by his tremdous voice! R.I.P Kurt Donald Cobain KDC forever!
    creed_rocks13on July 05, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is powerful and Kurt covers it so well it's overwhelming. it seems relatively easy to understand but i'm not sure i completely grasp it.
    FROST17on February 09, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA driving wheel is a) a gear wheel that causes other wheels to rotate and b) Any wheel of a vehicle that transforms torque into a tractive force.
    Destriaon July 21, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentno other song gives me the chills like this one does. Can't think of many songs more powerful than this. Nirvana changed rock forever. Who really misses Posin? Not me..... r.i.p. kurt
    weezerockon October 17, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYou know at the very end of this song, that look when kurt has that anguished look on his face as he gasps for breath.. Well I don't know what exactly that look meant, but it has always seemed really powerful and significant... My god... Kurt and Leadbelly rock.
    carmson March 07, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is so amazing. I feel the emotions of every word spoken. I also can releate because he wants to know where his woman slept last night. i have had alot of women cheat on me and lie about it. Everytime he says "My girl My girl dont lie to me tell me where did you sleep last night" just makes me think of everytime i have been decieved by women. This song sometimes makes me cry, i feel the intensity of kurts singing and it just takes control of me. Defenitely one of my favorite cover songs
    SaTaNsWiZaRd0666on March 26, 2003   Link

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