When Nirvana released its classic album Nevermind, who would have thought the songs would still be popular more than 25 years later? Nirvana wrote some pretty dark songs over the years, but nothing as dark as the story behind ‘Polly’. A horrible event took place exactly 30 years ago.


‘Polly’ is the sixth song on Nirvana’s most succesful album Nevermind. However, Cobain had already written the song in 1988. So why wasn’t is on their debutalbum Bleachwhich was released in 1989? Reportedly, the song was left out because it wasn’t consistent with the sound of the band at that time. Bleach is a much more heavy grunge album than its successor. The song was originally named ‘Hitchhiker‘ which was later changed to ‘Cracker‘, but the final album version became ‘Polly’.

Based On A Horrible Event

Kurt Cobain wrote this song in response to something he read in the newspaper in June 1987. A 14-year-old girl went missing after going to a rock concert. She had accepted a ride home from a 49-year-old man called Gerald Friend. Instead of getting the girl home safe, Gerald Friend repeatedly raped and tortured her. Fortunately, the girl could escape by jumping of his truck when they stopped at a gasstation. Gerald Friend was stopped by the police a couple of days later for a traffic violation. The deputies recognised him and Friend was arrested. In August 1987, about 30 years ago, Gerald Friend was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and rape.Many deputies still can’t believe why Gerald Friend was a free man at the time. He had been convicted of rape and torture in 1960 and was sentenced to 75 years in prison. However, after serving 20 years and escaping twice, he got out on parole.

Critics On Polly

Nirvana got a lot of critisism for writing about such horrible events. Some argued that by making a song (that turned out to become popular), it seemed like this horror never really ended. On the other hand, Kurt Cobain was critised for not doing enough research: “He got all the details wrong”. Cobain wrote ‘Polly’ from the perspective of another person, in this case Gerald Friend. No one understood why he would want to look inside the mind of such a horrible man. To Cobain it was all very simple: “I like to write about other people and events, my own life is boring”.

Polly In 2017

‘Polly’ is still a very popular song nowadays. Apart from Nevermind, ‘Polly’ is on no less than 7 live albums one of which the famous MTV Uplugged in New York recordings. Fortunatly, Gerald Friend is still behind bars and that won’t change very soon. When he was convicted in 1987, he got 75 years plus the remaining 55 years from his first conviction.Today, Friend has served 30 years and has 100 years to go. No chance of parole this time, the State of Washington was sued for prematurely paroling him in 1980.