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Nirvana - Lithium - Lyrics Meaning

Though "Lithium," the third single released from Nirvana's Nevermind in July of 1992, has become an iconic song, it only reached number sixty-two on the charts in the United States. The title comes from the medication taken to treat Manic-Depressive Disorder (also known as Bipolar Depression), which Kurt Cobain is often said to have suffered from. Manic-Depressive Disorder is characterized by constant switching between episodes of mania, excessive highs, and episodes of depression, cataclysmic lows. Lithium is used to help regulate the unstable and volatile moods of patients, and to keep their occasional violent tendencies in check. The title is also said to come from Karl Marx's infamous assertion that religion is the "opiate of the masses." At one point in his life, Cobain spent time living with various relatives and friends. One of these friends, Jesse Reed, came from a family of born-again Christians. Cobain has acknowledged that inspiration for "Lithium" possibly came from the experience of living with Reed's family. The singer has also stated that the song is about a man who turns to religion after the death of his girlfriend to keep him from committing suicide, and has admitted to taking inspiration from his own bad relationships.

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