Long-awaited Nirvana song hits airwaves

A long-anticipated Nirvana song that's been the subject of much speculation and litigation finally surfaced on the nation's airwaves this week, more than eight years after singer Kurt Cobain killed himself.

The song, "You Know You're Right," was closely guarded by Cobain's estate and became one of the most famous unreleased tracks in rock history. The band, which launched the early 1990s "grunge" movement, recorded it in late January 1994, less than three months before Cobain's death.

"It may not be the best song they ever did, but it's probably in the top 10," Cobain biographer Charles Cross said yesterday. "At the time, people were saying Kurt was over, and that's what's so significant about this song — it's the last great Nirvana song."

The circumstances of the song's release aren't clear. Several radio stations said it first surfaced on the Internet, which was where they obtained it.

The release — official or not — followed comments from Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, last week, indicating that lawsuits involving the song had been settled for "a lot of money" and that "You Know You're Right" would be released before the holidays.

Love and surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic have long fought over "You Know You're Right" as well as the rest of Nirvana's legacy. She sued them in May 2001 to block the release of a boxed set including the song, which she wanted released later. They countersued for breach of contract.

Neither Love's Seattle lawyer, O. Yale Lewis, nor Grohl and Novoselic's lawyers would confirm the case had been settled or discuss the song's release. A spokesman for Interscope Geffen A&M, Nirvana's label, did not return a phone message yesterday, and lawyers for Universal Music Group, which includes the label, declined to comment.

The case was still set to go to trial in King County Superior Court beginning Monday, though a bailiff for Judge Robert Alsdorf noted that a hearing scheduled about two weeks ago had been canceled without being rescheduled.

Cross cautioned that the version released on the Internet may not be the one planned for release by the record label. He said he heard a substantially better version while researching his Cobain biography, "Heavier than Heaven," which came out last year.