‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Nirvana Created a Dark Tribute to the Show in 1989

by Madison Miller

Imagine the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina from “The Andy Griffith Show,” but instead of the wholesome Andy Taylor and his sweet son Opie, the hilarious Barney Fife, and the caring Aunt Bee, they’re all just crazed murderers.

Given just how wholesome and good-natured the show was, certainly it’s quite the mental image.

Nirvana ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Reference

For Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of the popular rock band Nirvana, the scenario wasn’t quite as far-fetched.

Nirvana released the debut studio album “Bleach” on June 15, 1989. At the time, Cobain was trying to create music that he thought conformed well with the grunge music wave. It also appeals to the Seattle contemporary music scene of the time. He said that he restrained his other musical inspirations in the album, such as a more pop and artsy sound.

One of the songs on the album is “Floyd the Barber.” According to Songfacts, it tells the story of a terribly gruesome small town with a pretty menacing group of locals. The basis of it is that a man decides he’s due for a haircut and walks into a local barbershop. He gets a hot towel put over his face and is tied down. Then he is eventually brutally murdered by everyone in the room.

If that wasn’t alarming enough already, Cobain uses “The Andy Griffith Show” as an inspiration. He apparently wrote the song thinking, “What if all these people were mad, sadistic, killers?” Instead of the usual home-cooked meals, friendly neighbors, and empathetic sheriffs, the guy gets quite the opposite treatment. Floyd, Aunt Bee, Opie, Barney, and Andy all join forces to brutally torture the random man.

“I sense others in the room / Opie, Aunt Bea, I presume / They take turns and cut me up /
I died smothered in Andy’s clutch.”

Other Classic TV References in Music

It’s not quite the whistling and upbeat version of “The Andy Griffith Show” fans know so well. Despite being on back in the 1960s, “The Andy Griffith Show” has continued to have small shout-outs in popular culture. The Marvel Universe referenced the show in “Ant-Man” in 2015. The characters are planning a heist and one of them says he will whistle to blend in with security. Scott says, “No whistling this isn’t ‘The Andy Griffith Show.'”

Other shows like “Full House,” “Cheers,” “The Muppet Show,” and “Silver Spoon” all gave subtle nods to the classic show. None quite as dark as the Nirvana nod.

“The Andy Griffith Show” isn’t the only classic TV show that has been a source of inspiration for rock and pop artists. Ozzy Osbourne’s opening track from “Ozzmosis” in 1995 with a reference to “Perry Mason.” He sings, “Who can we get on the case? / We need Perry Mason / Someone to put you in place / Calling Perry Mason again.” Thin Lizzy, a 1960s rock band, references “Perry Mason’ too in their song “Suicide.” Specifically, the band is referencing the episode “The Case of the Lover’s Leap” where a businessman fakes his own suicide.

Lastly, the band Rush pays homage to the science fiction classic, “The Twilight Zone.” The 1976 song is called “The Twilight Zone” and references two episodes — “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” and “Stopover In a Quiet Town.”