Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain wrote “Polly” about an incident in Tacoma, Washington involving the abduction and rape of a 14-year-old girl in August 1987. Gerald Arthur Friend kidnapped the girl while she was leaving a rock concert, suspended her upside down from a pulley in his mobile home and raped and tortured her with a blow torch. She managed to escape by jumping from his truck at a gas station, attracting attention from surrounding people. Friend was later arrested and convicted for his crimes. Cobain’s addition to the story was to have the victim fool the kidnapper into thinking she was enjoying what he was doing to her, causing him to let his guard down long enough for her to escape.
In this facinating video essay, vlogger Evan Puschak, aka The Nerdwriter, examines the song and goes behind the lyrics.