Last week, Lana Del Rey covered the song “Heart-Shaped Box” originally by Nirvana, spurring an interesting response by Courtney Love over Twitter.  Courtney Love composed a now infamous Tweet about how the song is about her vagina:


Hey. Wait. I’ve got a new complaint:

What I’d like to say is Huffington Post got it right when they called Courtney Love “outspoken.” I don’t care if you talk about your vagina online. That doesn’t bother me in the least. What bothers me is how Courtney Love managed to demean this song for me and possibly plenty of people around me. I am a big Nirvana fan. I place Nevermind on the list of my favorite albums, up there with The Beatles’ White Album and Hail to the Thief by Radiohead.

“Heart-Shaped Box,” off of In Utero is not about your vagina, Courtney Love.

Who am I to say this? Courtney Love was married to Kurt Cobain, for crying out loud. She would know if the song was about her lady business.

Let’s go back: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. “Oh, that song is about LSD,” said every moron ever. These songs are not about drugs, they are not about Courtney Love’s vagina. Sure, Heart-Shaped Box has a very sexual connotation. Sure, Courtney Love might have written some of the lyrics. What I don’t appreciate is limiting the ideas of what a song is.

Heart-Shaped Box, to me, is about the claustrophobia of love. It’s about the addiction of being lost in someone. Once again, this quickly leads to a sexual connotation, but there’s an intention to that too. I think Courtney Love would acknowledge this as well, but God, is she so desperate for press that she makes these outlandish statements?

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, to me, is about childhood innocence. It’s about vibrant life, it’s about imagination, and yes, John Lennon being the cryptic genius he was, I guarantee it’s no accident that the name also spells out LSD.

Note that I put “to me”, because this is all subjective. The fight I’m trying to fight is people who limit their perspective on what music is about, or limit what anything is about to something as simple as “Courtney Love’s vagina,” or “drugs.” This idea strikes me hard as a writer, specifically as a poet, because when I write, and when most of the people around me make art of any kind, it’s never as shallow as writing about one controversial topic. They have something to say. That’s why it angers me when a complex and timeless song like Heart-Shaped Box gets put inside of another box, gets limited. I just want to challenge people here to not let that song become a one-note song. Don’t let it become an allusion to that one time Courtney Love opened her mouth on Twitter. The same way I challenge you not to define yourself as a hippie, or a hipster, or a rockabilly performance artist, or a mom, or a senator. These things are important to who you are, and may help you find yourself, but you cannot be describe in 140 characters or less, and neither can Heart-Shaped Box.

More on Courtney Love’s vagina:

Author: brice maiurro

Denver poet. Author of Stupid Flowers, out now through Punch Drunk Press.


  1. In my opinion, Courtney Love is obviously vying for attention. She’s been out of the limelight all these years and has found a way to instantly ruffle some feathers. Yes, I have heard plenty of vaginas referred to as the “Heart Shaped Box”, but never once in all the years that song has been around did it ever make me think “oh, hey, this song is about female parts!” Maybe after/during a session of hot sex between the two, he made a comment that he wrote it for her or maybe be he wrote it after, making her think it was all about her. Guess no one will ever know because it’s only her self-centered side of the story now.

    I hate when people listen to a song and derive something, absolutely, senseless out of it. One of my favorite things to do is sit by myself and listen to an artist express themselves through the words they are singing and the instrument they are playing. When you do that you can find the sense of meaning behind the words and feel the emotion the artist is conveying.

    In other words, after my ramble, I agree with you!

  2. Yep, I agree with this. One of the things that complexity in a lyric or even it being very specific is that if it’s done well then it can open out into so many meanings for listeners. I’d say the meaning can flower, but probably not advisable in this context!

  3. Very nicely said. Freedom of interpretation is where real beauty of art lies. Courteney’s vagina, or LSD, or whatever, these things aren’t offensive or even wrong, but as soon as you say “this song is about X”, you mistakenly limit yourself with a lack of imagination.

    1. Word. I think mostly I wrote this because I love that song too! I don’t want to think about Courtney Love’s vagina when I hear that song!

      1. I’m gonna have some twisted nightmares due to all the chatter about Courtney Loves vagina today! Lmao..or maybe it’s all the thoughts of her or just the fact I hate the word vagina? Who knows, but I’m feeling the train wreck rapidly approaching!

      2. My blog today has been a massive conversation about Courtney Love’s vagina. It’s kind of addictive to say. Courtney Love’s vagina. Courtney Love’s vagina.

      3. Oh yes, I know this! Every time my phone chimes I get to read the silly word again! Glad to hear it rolls off your tongue so easily and playfully, as I’m sure the actual one has rolled off of many, as well! Haha..It’s just amazing how this post made me analyze more today than usual, but her level of disturbance kept creeping up on me : )

  4. Haha! This post and comments made my day. I totally agree with you, even though I think Courtney is a weird, awesome woman. Don’t know bout her vagina though. She make me laugh and sing along (Hole). Nirvana is one of my favorites too. Had the pleasure to cover School a while ago. I dunno. Guess we all find our own meanings in lyrics. Thanks for stopping by and following my blog. Excited to follow yours – K

  5. It bothers me like the song refers to rebirth and starting over in some parts of the song. “Through down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back” he was referring to his mothers womb. That was his way or saying he wanted to start life over. Why Courtney tries to associate every thing nirvana to herself pisses me off

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