Like most babies smell like butter
His smell smelled like no other
He was born scentless and senseless
He was born a scentless apprentice

Go away, go away

Every wet nurse refused to feed him
Electrolytes smell like semen
I promise not to sell your perfumed secrets
There are countless formulas for pressing flowers

Go away, go away
Go away

I lie in the soil and fertilize mushrooms
Leaking out gas fumes are made into perfume
You can't fire me because I quit
Throw me in the fire and I won't throw a fit

Go away, go away
Go away, go away
Go away, go away
Go away

Lyrics submitted by spitfirek7

"Scentless Apprentice" as written by Krist Novoselic David Grohl

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Scentless Apprentice song meanings
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  • +11
    General CommentAs story after story of Kurt Cobain's travails with heroin were kicked around in the press, an unfortunate image began to take shape - that he was a disengaged, unfeeling, dumb junkie who happened to be able to write some songs and play guitar. It all made for good tabloid copy and stand-up comic material, but it was not accurate. Cobain was undoubtedly a tormented soul and quite a few of those torments were self-inflicted, but his worth as an artist, thinker and musician was much broader than the "Junkie-with-guitar" stereotype allowed.

    Cobain was not a voracious reader, but he was a devoted one. Writers Katherine Dunn, Susan Faludi and William S. Burroughs all received "Special Thanks" in the In Utero credits, and 'Scentless Apprentice' took its theme from the 1986 novel perfume, by the German writer Patrick Süskind.

    The novel, set in eighteenth-century France, tells the peculiar story of a bastard infant who is born with two startling characteristics - he has an amazingly developed sense of smell, which he uses to assess the world around him, plus he gives off absolutely no odour of any kind from his own body. He is thought to be devil-spawn by the nurses who reluctantly care for him at his orphanage but is eventually apprenticed to a master perfume maker. His natural abilities make him an extraordinary talent in the field of fragrances, but his darker impulses begin to emerge. While the smells of most humans and human activities disgust him, occasionally he will find a woman whose scent is so beguiling that he feels compelled to kill her - to own her scent as it were. He is eventually put on trial for his crimes but, in a rather phantasmagorical closing sequence, manages to manipulate a rabid mob into having an orgy rather than an execution.

    Cobain hadn't intended to turn his reading of the novel into a song, but need for strong lyrics arose under some musically surprising circumstances - for the first time, the band collaborated from square one in writing a song. The piece started with a basic guitar riff that Dave Grohl had come up with. Cobain didn't think the riff sounded all that promising - in fact he felt it was a little too reminiscent of the Sub Pop-era grunge sound the band wanted to distance itself from. But as Kurt, Krist and Dave jammed around the riff, it turned into something more impressive. Kurt came up with a guitar line of ascending notes that pulled against the basic riff, Krist arranged a second section the song could move to, and a fierce, group-penned composition was born. It was the one In Utero track on which all three band members received a song writing credit.

    The sound was fierce enough, in fact, that Cobain reached back to the disturbing tale of Perfume for his lyrics. His vocals, snarled out like a supremely pissed-off W.C. Fields, basically sketch out the ideas of Süskind's story. His desperately screamed "Go Away's" are particularly chilling and, in light of the book, seem to cut two ways - it's either what the singer/apprentice hears from those who hate him, or its what the singer/apprentice screams at those he hates. The angry strength of 'Scentless Apprentice' demonstrates how well-connected the trio could be, and how quickly they could come up with potent music when those connections were working.

    The 'Scentless Apprentice' guitar riff wasn't Dave Grohl's only song writing contribution during the In Utero sessions. A Grohl-penned and sung tune, 'Marigold', was recorded and used as a B-side for the 'Heart-Shaped Box' single. Much of the song writing Grohl was doing during this period later turned up as material on the 1995 debut Foo Fighters album.
    terraryzinon March 22, 2003   Link
  • +5
    General Commentits based on this book Kurt read called Perfume...its about this perfume maker who kills virgins for their smell and makes them into perfume...I checked it out, cool book
    treestumpon May 08, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt's about a book Kurt Cobain read called Pefume by Patrick Suskind. The book is about an insane guy who murders people for their scent.
    gglycerineon April 30, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthe lame one is you misterfog. check out the interview from aug. 93 on youtube.
    he states its the only song he's ever written based on a book he read.
    also saying its a book he carries around all the time and when hes on a plane he reads
    it. has read it 8 times or more and its subject is something he can relate to
    jetbluexson June 14, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyeah, i heard the "perfume" book explanation as well. I read also that had Nirvana lived this would have been their next single. Awesome song, too bad, i would've loved to hear this all over the radio
    kerjaon June 30, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love the drum beat. got me into drumming
    mahapanon June 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a cool song. Its indicitive of the style of In Utero,which is a big FU to the mainstream, based on the success of Nevermind. Kurt's just pissed off, wicked pissah.
    OwnPersonalDemonon February 05, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe lyirc is "i lie in the soil and fertillize mushrooms", not soll, easy mistake tho cuz the font in the cd lyics thing iz kinda hard to read.
    KIM04on February 24, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is pretty cool, lots of screeming hehe, It is about that book he read I'm going to try to read that book, you know reading book is one of the best ways to write a good read up kids
    KurtCobain2727on July 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, it is about Perfume...the book is out of print and really hard to find. i read another book by Patrick Suskin called Mr. Summers Story.....the author was very isolated and distant which is probably why Kurt connected with his writing. This is one of the best song for drums by Grohl...i love the sound of his drums for In Utero
    Streamer6639on August 06, 2002   Link

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