Cobain described the lyrics of "Come as You are" as contradictory, and said the song was about "people and what they're expected to act like". Pointing to the line "Take you time, hurry up, choice is yours, don't be late", essayist Catherine J.Creswell writes that in Cobain's lyrics, "[p]hrases clump into strings of empty clichés whose own ostensible meaning is forced into contradictions or simple rhyme sound". In light of Cobain's 1994 suicide by self-inflicted gunshot-wound, Allmusic's Mark Deming suggests that "[h]earing Kurt Cobain sing 'And I swear that I don't have a gun' gives 'Come as You Are' a sting it was never meant to have when [Nevermind] was first released in 1991." Deming reasons that the "don't have a gun" lyric is "[Cobain's] attempt to reassure listeners that . . . his target is the world at large rather than the individuals in it, and that there was still room in this damaged world for everyone".
Although members of Killing Joke claimed the main guitar riff of "Come As You Are" plagiarized the riff of "Eighties", the band did not file a copyright infringement lawsuit, which Rolling Stone magazine attributes to "personal and financial reasons". However, conflicting reports state that Killing Joke did file a lawsuit but that it was thrown out of court, or that it was dropped following Cobain's death. Geordie Walker, Killing Joke's guitar player, said that the band was "very pissed off about that, but it's obvious to everyone. We had two separate musicologists' reports saying it was. Our publisher sent their publisher a letter saying it was and they went 'Boo, never heard of ya!', but the hysterical thing about Nirvana saying they'd never heard of us was that they'd already sent us a Christmas card!
It was anticipated that the album's first single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", would be a "base-building alternative cut", while "Come as You Are" would be able to cross over into other radio formats. However, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" became a surprise hit and boosted the band's popularity, whereas "Come as You Are" served to maintain it. After its release as a single in March 1992, "Come as You Are" peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100; it was the band's second and last American Top 40 hit. The single stayed on the chart for 18 weeks. The song also reached number three on the Billboard Mainstream and Modern Rock Tracks charts. The single also broke the UK top 10, peaking at the ninth spot.
The video features the band in a dark room, where the appearance of falling water in front of the band distorts and blurs the band members' faces (an idea suggested by Cobain). Throughout the video, clips such as cells multiplying at an incredible rate, to a living organism in its embryotic stages are shown. The video clip also features Kurt Cobain swinging away on a chandelier throughout the room, and water begins to flow into the room. In addition, the video shows parts involving a dog wearing a cone collar. Images of a baby swimming underwater (a reference to the cover of Nevermind) and a gun floating appear. Towards the end, a clip of the band appears, with Cobain in the front, lying on the ground and kissing the camera.
In 2005, a sign was put up in Aberdeen, Washington, Cobain's hometown, that reads "Welcome to Aberdeen: Come As You Are" as a tribute to Cobain. The sign was paid for and created by the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee, a non-profit organization created in May 2004 to honor Cobain. Founded by author Jeff Burlingame and Aberdeen City Councilman Paul Fritts, the Committee also plans to create a Kurt Cobain Memorial Park and a youth center in Aberdeen.
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||25|
|Austrian Singles Chart||28|
|French Singles Chart||12|
|Swedish Singles Chart||24|
|Swiss Singles Chart||21|
|UK Singles Chart||9|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||32|
|U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks||3|
|U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks||3|