Love Letter To A Record: Born Lion’s John Bowker On Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged In New York’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

John Bowker, Born Lion: Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York

Dear Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York,

I felt like this is the right time to get this weight off my chest. It’s something I’ve been wanting to let you know for a while.

I’m so deeply and utterly in love with you.

I remember the first time we met like it was yesterday. I was about 15 years old. My old man was living in Nowra on the south coast at the time and I was staying with him for the weekend. I glanced over at the TV at some point and there you were. This group of beautifully un-kept, long haired individuals. The leader, who I later found out to be Kurt Cobain, donned a magnificent cardigan and what appeared to be a giant oversized cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth.

It was about the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.

I turned up the volume thinking that there would be no way the music being played could be any match for the aesthetic wonder before me. .. I was wrong. The music was incredible. It was so magnificently raw and powerful.

The band talk among themselves like there’s no one else in the room. They make the call to leave the stage and let Kurt do one on his own. He begins to play ‘Pennyroyal Tea’. I remember thinking how amazing that was, so fragile and perfect. Kurt’s voice is like it’s on the verge of falling apart but never does. The band continues with songs like ‘Dumb’, ‘On A Plain’ and ‘All Apologies’.

The whole thing is just filled with incredible words and melodies. It’s so real and honest. It’s a straight masterpiece form start to finish.

Soon after, for my birthday I was given Nevermind and an accompanying tab book. That’s how I learnt guitar. You inspired me to play and gave me a way to express how I felt. For this I am forever grateful.

All my love,


Born Lion’s sophomore album ‘Celebrate the Lie’ is out now. Stream it right here.

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