The Fate of the Bridge in Nirvana’s “Something In the Way” Is Uncertain

The bridge may be repaired or replaced soon

Nirvana in 1992
Nirvana in Melbourne, Australia in 1992.
Jason Childs/Getty Images

If your first long-term exposure to Nirvana came via their album Nevermind, it’s very likely that something clicked into place for you right around the album’s last song, the slow-burning “Something In the Way.” This was the point on Nevermind when Nirvana’s doomier influences kicked in; this is also the point where, in retrospect, the band’s influence on a whole subset of indie bands to come comes into focus. The version of the song performed on Unplugged a few years later proved that its mood didn’t need amplifiers to work; rarely has a cello sounded so ominous.

A significant part of the song’s mood also comes from its lyrical imagery and the way that Kurt Cobain delivers those lyrics, beginning with the opening, which sets the song’s location as being “Underneath the bridge.” Cobain was drawing on his own experiences with those lyrics, describing a time in his youth when he was living on the streets. As Consequence’s Jo Vito reports, the bridge that inspired the song — located in Aberdeen, Washington — may not be long for this world, despite its status as a de facto memorial for Cobain.

The issue at hand, as is the case with so much of the nation’s infrastructure, is that the bridge is showing its age. The City of Aberdeen describes the bridge as “aging and deteriorating” on a website focusing on its rehabilitation or replacement. “The project team aims to address the aging and deteriorating bridge conditions, which will improve access, safety, and traffic flow, while preserving the legacy of one of Aberdeen’s most famous icons: Kurt Cobain,” the city explained.

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According to the project’s website, there are several goals for the project, from completing the design phase in time to qualify for federal funding to paying tribute to Cobain. The website lists four options, including rehabilitating the existing bridge, creating a new bridge and either leaving the existing bridge up or removing it, or doing nothing at all. A public hearing is scheduled for May 1 of this year, which should make the storied bridge’s future a little more clear.

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