The Meaning Behind ‘Polly’ by Nirvana


Ariela, Fresh Face Editor

In 1991, the album “Nevermind” came out by Nirvana. “Nevermind” is Nirvana’s most successful album and is still a very popular album today. The group has some pretty dark songs, but none compared to the dark meaning behind ‘Polly’. Kurt Cobain wrote the song based off of an event he read about in the newspaper in 1987. 

Lyrics to “Polly”.

In 1987, a 14-year-old girl was kidnapped from a rock concert after she accepted a ride from a 49-year-old man named Gerald Friend. After kidnapping the girl, Gerald repeatedly raped and tortured her. The girl fortunately escaped from Gerald by jumping out of his truck when he stopped at a gas station. A few days after she escaped, Gerald was stopped by police for a traffic violation, police recognized him, and he was arrested. He was convicted of first degree kidnapping and rape. A couple years before this act he got sentenced to 75 years in prison for the same offense, but after serving 20 years and escaping twice, he was let out on parole, after his second offense he was sentenced to serve the rest of this remaining time, plus an additional 75 years.

Nirvana got tons of criticism for writing about such a dark and unthinkable topic. Many argued that Kurt Cobain should have done more research, people said that he got many of the details wrong. Kurt wrote the song in the perspective of Gerald Friend. People wondered why he would want to look inside the mind of someone so evil; he had a very simple answer, “I like to write about other people and events, my own life is boring.”