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I wrote about this book on my blog I was in high school, a chunk of my friends were skater boys In the mid 1980 s, skater boys in our town were typically middle class and generally pretty sunny in disposition and future They were going to college and going to wind up lawyers and doctors just like their fathers One of my friends, with red hair and the sweetest boy smile I had ever seen, went to Seattle and he died.We ve never quite known what hap I wrote about this book on my blog I was in high school, a chunk of my friends were skater boys In the mid 1980 s, skater boys in our town were typically middle class and generally pretty sunny in disposition and future They were going to college and going to wind up lawyers and doctors just like their fathers One of my friends, with red hair and the sweetest boy smile I had ever seen, went to Seattle and he died.We ve never quite known what happened to John I ve always had a hundred, thousand questions about his last two years, but there s no one to ask His family shut that door firmly, not even posting an obituary that any of us can find, so all that we have is speculation and rumors I ve always wanted to know if he was in college or working, was he a junkie We ve always heard that heroin was involved, but that can mean too many things to be any answer.I m reading Everybody Loves Our Town An Oral History of Grunge this week and I m not sure why I mean, I really will read an oral history on almost any topic, but grunge is not my music Grunge really isn t a music at all, just a label slapped on bands from a specific place and time And, while I am from that time, I m not from that place.Seattle in the 1990 s is a dark, violent place The musicians profiled in the book talk a lot of about how fun it was in the early days, in the 1980 s, but by the time the Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden are getting big, the scene doesn t sound so fun any Guns N Roses toured with Soundgarden and nicknamed them Frowngarden I guess when a handful of your friends get famous, it s normal to think that it should be you getting the money and the record deals And by the time Nirvana has come and gone, everyone is a cannibal A surprising number of people in the book blame all the problems of Seattle on Courtney Love, which is kind of fascinating to read It s like she s the Yoko Ono of an entire region, creating factions and isolations and death She could have gone so many ways with her widowhood, becoming the beatific saint of musicians gone too soon, but I guess she really could only be what she is too damaged and self promoting and angry to do anything but lash out.Oh, the deaths The first few are shocking to Seattle musicians and they still remember that rawness these 20 years later As the 90 s wear on, the scattered names of the dead become a roll call, with no surprise left There are only a small handful of musicians profiled who didn t die at some point Apparently there are lots of ways to revive a dead man and the people in Seattle learned them all the hard way They didn t all come back to life, though, and I m reading this account thinking that there must be dozens of dead audience members for every dead musician There are people just like my friend in every concert photo Kids who though moving to Seattle would fill some empty space in them and didn t get to grow up I guess that s why I m reading intensely I m looking for John on every page I have read a lot of non fiction books about music in my life and most have them have been subpar But you re a fan of a certain band or genre, and so to get one or two tidbits of information you didn t have before, you drudge through badly written purple prose and information you find on wikipedia Thankfully, this book is different It s a lot better It s entertaining, well edited and informative I m a big fan of Pearl Jam, and also a fan of Nirvana I like some Soundgarden and Mudhoney song I have read a lot of non fiction books about music in my life and most have them have been subpar But you re a fan of a certain band or genre, and so to get one or two tidbits of information you didn t have before, you drudge through badly written purple prose and information you find on wikipedia Thankfully, this book is different It s a lot better It s entertaining, well edited and informative I m a big fan of Pearl Jam, and also a fan of Nirvana I like some Soundgarden and Mudhoney songs, but I m by no means a Grunge expert I don t think you need to be to enjoy this book, but if you re not a fan of any of the bands, an interest in music history or cultural history in general would probably help Oral Histories can get really messy, but Mark Yarm used this technique in the best way possible, letting people who were there explain the music scene in Seattle from the 80s to the late 90s As a reader you really get a feeling of having been there My criticism would be a sometimes there were maybe too many different voice speaking, from too many bands, record company executives, MTV VJs, girlfriends and hanger ons sometimes it got a bit confusing Especially at the beginning, when the book covers the pre Grunge era, and most people talking are people I and most people don t know b I wanted to hearof the most interesting people I understand the author tried to create a narrative and he couldn t choose who was willing to speak to him, but I would have loved to hear evenfrom the members of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Susan Silver and some others Sometimes their soundbites were just a bit too short and I would have preferredcontext I get that maybe that would have made the book feel bloated, but I was just left wantingOne thing I didn t expect was to laugh so much while reading Courtney Love s bit about Kurt Cobain being an alpha male was just hilarious even though I think she was being serious There were a lot of funny, and also some very disgusting anecdotes The part about Eddie Vedder drinking bile literally turned my stomach I nearly gave up on this book shortly after I started it I was born in late 1980, so I was only ten years old when Nevermind hit the stores and brought grunge into mainstream America, so during the years that grunge was vital and relevant, I was a little too young to connect with it My friends cool older siblings liked Soundgarden and Nirvana and Pearl Jam although the fourth big grunge band is consistently listed as Alice in Chains, I have never had a personal relationship with anyone inter I nearly gave up on this book shortly after I started it I was born in late 1980, so I was only ten years old when Nevermind hit the stores and brought grunge into mainstream America, so during the years that grunge was vital and relevant, I was a little too young to connect with it My friends cool older siblings liked Soundgarden and Nirvana and Pearl Jam although the fourth big grunge band is consistently listed as Alice in Chains, I have never had a personal relationship with anyone interested in that band , and I had a couple of Pearl Jam CDs on my shelf collecting dust because my mom had heard somewhere that all the cool kids liked Pearl Jam, and she wasn t going to tolerate a kid who wouldn t even try to be cool , but I was never really an active grunge fan I mean, I liked flannel because it was a style that was kind to fat kids, but I didn t personally connect to the music Even today, I generally reference Kurt Cobain when I m helping people who want clarification on how I spell my name, but I m certainly not a devoted Nirvana fan And the first 100 150 pages of this book are largely concerned with the regional roots of grunge Many vapid observations about bands you ve probably never heard of Man, I went to that U Men show at that venue, and I was sooooo drunk Yeah, there was a dead cat at that one show, and it was crazy Yeah, I met this member of my new band in my high school, and we smoked pot at his mom s house, then I met this other member of my new band in my high school and we smoked pot at my mom s house It was a bunch of people telling inane stories about when they used to be cool in their hometown And with no connection, I was prepared to give up on the book and write a polite review about how it s only geared toward those who are already intense grunge fans.And then Courtney Love showed up.Into a world of rational observations and shallow analysis, Yarm starts sharing quotes from Courtney Love, who thunders in like a hostile unicorn stomping around in an uncovered septic tank She spills her trash mouthed crazy sauce all over the pages of this book and turns it into something amazing.I recognize that Love is generally portrayed negatively, with different figures complaining about her toxic influence, and her own quotes being almost unfailingly agitated and disrespectful And in the context of the whole book, she has a small role, only a few quotes and a fewreferences to her by other participants in the project Still, the book changes at a fundamental level when she appears It gets wild and unpredictable, especially since that s about the point where the narrative picks up speed Bands start taking off on a national level, and the sources interviewed start sharing not only their thoughts but also their responses to the ways they were portrayed at the time The book develops a sense of purpose, an epic scale like a collection of Shakespearean tragedies, and a grand historical perspective, and Yarm s gifts as an historian really begin to shine.Yarm is, by all the evidence in this book, a phenomenal historian The range of perspectives is simply astounding nearly every member of every significant band, plus the music executives, the venue owners, the roadies, the random fans In a few haunting moments, Kurt Cobain even speaks, as Yarm shares contextually appropriate excerpts from Cobain s suicide note and his journals Yarm also shows a great deal of precision and care as he takes disconnected interviews and weaves them together to make clear moments and clear timelines Yarm s sense of humor is wicked and brilliant, as he often juxtaposes contradictory memories or allows his stars to laugh about what their friends have said about them After the first rough couple of hundred pages, I loved this book at a level I can t really explain I was excited for band members who would enjoy things that they did well, and when tragedy would occasionally strike, usually in the form of an overdose and a gripping memorial service beautifully captured with reverent memories of the participants, sharing pain that hasn t really gone away in twenty years , I almost always had to put the book down and walk around the house for a while before I could get centered enough to return to the story Band members still mourn the emotional wounds inflicted by their record companies, and producers still regret the hard choices that they had to make Some people still nurse grudges, but most have grown enough to try to forgive those who hurt them twenty years ago This book was honest and it was wise and it was powerful, and I recommend it to anyone The long introduction is really only for fans of grunge and its origins, but the rest of the book is for fans of humanity, and this book is a treasure This book was so amazing to meI was and remain a huge fan of all of the bands discussed in the book I was 15 when Nevermind broke and count myself as being truly lucky to have grown up with this music as having defined my generation This book shared numerous interviews from all of the band members, record people, band managers, etc with tales from their teen years until after the death of Layne Staley I really felt like I was able to learn so muchabout all of them as people and get a This book was so amazing to meI was and remain a huge fan of all of the bands discussed in the book I was 15 when Nevermind broke and count myself as being truly lucky to have grown up with this music as having defined my generation This book shared numerous interviews from all of the band members, record people, band managers, etc with tales from their teen years until after the death of Layne Staley I really felt like I was able to learn so muchabout all of them as people and get a feel for just how much fun the whole scene was before all the tragedies I stayed up until 3AM reading furiously until the end In an odd coincedence, about a minute after I had closed the cover, the radio station I was listening to played Mad Season s River of Deceit and I admit that I just started bawling The world lost a lot of brilliantly talented musicians with the deaths of so many of the major players of this scene and Layne Staley was by far one of the best Thank you, Mark Yarm, for putting together not just a book but a real experience for those of us who were heavily influenced by these bands Oh grunge, how I miss thee And now that we are facing down the yikes 20 year anniversary of Kurt Cobain s death, the media s nostalgia machine is going into overdrive reunion tours, remastered albums, SBS specials Reissue, repackage, repackage as Morrissey once said I have to confess I m sort of all for it Grunge was a great time in my life lots of popular bands were also actually good, scruffiness was in fashion, and being smart was cool for a while Why would I not want to return to t Oh grunge, how I miss thee And now that we are facing down the yikes 20 year anniversary of Kurt Cobain s death, the media s nostalgia machine is going into overdrive reunion tours, remastered albums, SBS specials Reissue, repackage, repackage as Morrissey once said I have to confess I m sort of all for it Grunge was a great time in my life lots of popular bands were also actually good, scruffiness was in fashion, and being smart was cool for a while Why would I not want to return to those dark and rumbly days No Autotune No X factor Just lashings of credibility, and a whole bunch of addiction and death Okay, so it wasn t all marvellous Dark art is kind of inclined to lead to dark ends, I suppose still, it s a shock to realise just how fast things got ugly within this scene, as drugs, egos and music industry machinations took their inevitable tolls But for anyone who remembers this era as fondly as I do, the sadness is part of the story, certainly not something to be brushed aside in the blind adulation of doomed rock gods or killer riffs And a book that tells the whole tale, from every participant still around to be asked, is naturally something I will buy as soon as it comes out of the carton That said, the first 80 or so pages are a bit of a slog Generally I love oral biographies, but you d probably have to be an original member of one of the incredibly obscure bands featured to get much enjoyment out of the opening chapters But persevere and soon enough you get to the good stuff scandal, suffering, heroin and jail and that s just Courtney Love Joking aside, the quotes from Courtney are worth the price of purchase alone her decidely unique take on things is consistently jaw dropping and frequently hilarious Comprehensive, mostly evenhanded, often contradictory and endlessly fascinating, this has got to be the last word on Seattle s place in music history Reading it has made me dig out all my old Soundgarden and Mudhoney albums, to my bliss and my housemates irritation So it s a book for a niche market, sure, but dwellers in that niche are going to be very pleased indeed Because sometimes feeling stupid and contagious can be a good thing A few things to get out of the way before we start this review I didn t purchase this book, nor solicit it in any way It was sent to me for review by its publisher, Crown Archetype I assigned about a 25% chance to ever reading it once it arrived, and only dove into it as a respite from some muchintense books I d just finished about the Holocaust and whatnot Second the journalist who wrote the book, the book about grunge, is named Mark Yarm One of those strange coincidences of histor A few things to get out of the way before we start this review I didn t purchase this book, nor solicit it in any way It was sent to me for review by its publisher, Crown Archetype I assigned about a 25% chance to ever reading it once it arrived, and only dove into it as a respite from some muchintense books I d just finished about the Holocaust and whatnot Second the journalist who wrote the book, the book about grunge, is named Mark Yarm One of those strange coincidences of history, I suppose, that his name is nearly identical to one of the book s prime movers , Mudhoney s Mark Arm Finally, there s that word that everyone deservedly hates, grunge Yarm apologetically justifies it as a the all purpose descriptor that, for worse or for better, came to describe heavy punk metal glam hybrid music that came from Seattle in the late 80s and early 90s, then allows the oral history participants to dispatch and denigrate it in a number of ways throughout the book Knowing that this book showcases a style of music I truly ceased to listen to almost two decades ago, a style that has not worn particularly well, I hoped at least it would tell some good Mudhoney, Courtney Love Nirvana drugs drinking stories I got that and then some in fact, once I got rolling with EVERYBODY LOVES OUR TOWN , I was totally on for the ride and really enjoyed it Something about the oral history, especially a musical oral history about an era I either experienced firsthand or just missed, can be totally addicting I ve read the NY punk history Please Kill Me two LA punk histories the San Francisco punk history American Hardcore , and I m sure a few other oral histories of other scenes that I m forgetting This particular book, even with my previous caveats about the Seattle scene s overall musical worth, felt pretty close to home, as I know several of the people in the book personally and had brushed closely against many others during my time as a radio DJ, fanzine dork and frequent show goer Kurt Cobain even hung out at my house by happenstance one evening in 1991, which never ceases to impress people at my work or in any all purpose occasions for scenester braggadocio.Most of my involvement in this stuff came from having been a big GREEN RIVER fan during my college years Then the colored vinyl Sub Pop 45s started coming out Soundgarden, Blood Circus, Swallow, and the granddaddy of them all, Mudhoney s Sweet Young Thing Touch Me I m Sick single These were all accompanied by over the top PR theatrics everything from the amazing Charles Peterson photos showing Seattle fans of this stuff going bonkers and diving off stages semi manipulated by the photographer, as it turns out , to the limited edition vinyl, to the PR one sheets themselves I was squarely an elitist indie rock dork at the time, with my taste going for the loudest and rawest stuff I could hear Sub Pop wasthan all right for me, and as a 20 year old with an underdeveloped bullshit detector, I fell right into their trap.While a college radio DJ at KCSB FM in Santa Barbara, I remember excitedly talking to Sub Pop head Jonathan Poneman about their upcoming Singles Club , a yearly 45s club where you paid up front for a record to be mailed to you each month He was trying to sell me on the first one from a band called Nirvana, which bummed me out because I hadn t heard of them yet They re like Cheap Trick meets Kiss, it s totally awesome, they re going to be huge , he said as I gagged on the other end of the line I was totally a Mudhoney guy, instantly my favorite band from the time that first record came out Some friends and I travelled to catch their 1988 Northern and Southern California shows with Sonic Youth across 5 different nights, one of which was live on my radio show because I politely asked them to since I knew they had a day off between San Francisco and LA, and they politely concurred This began a friendship with the band and especially their manager Bob Whittaker that continues to this day, and helped open the door to me meeting some of the other folks quoted liberally throughout this book.I graduated college in 1989, and some music obsessed friends and I could think of nothing better than to reward ourselves with a driving trip up to Seattle for a week in June Once there, we saw a couple live shows with Swallow, Cat Butt and the debut of Dickless at the long gone Vogue club on 1st Avenue Seattle friends were already then complaining of their town s oversaturation in media, about grunge etc And this was years before Nirvana mania, the invention of Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and all that But the excitement in the Vogue club that night was real and jesus, it was just Cat Butt, Swallow and Dickless Seems like the entire scene turned up there goes Chris Cornell, there s Mark Arm, there s Bruce Pavitt etc and bodies really were being passed around, hair was flying and all that Later, I d see a 4 piece Nirvana open for Vomit Launch and Mudhoney at a tiny club in San Jose, CA encounter Kurt Courtney backstage in Los Angeles at a Mudhoney show there, and then almost plow into them in my car as they ran across the street arm in arm after the show and get turned on to microbrewed beer by Chris Pugh of Swallow, who schooled me on the concept at the Virginia Inn over my first bottle of Red Hook.Wait a minute, weren t we reviewing a book here Back to EVERYBODY LOVES OUR TOWN by Mark Yarm Yarm sets up Seattle noise voodoo band The U Men as the prototypical fount of grunge, which is ridiculous on its face, but which has been repeated so often that it sor less true at this point At any rate they were beloved by many who later went on to start the most celebrated of the Seattle bands, as were The Melvins, so both figure strongly in the early oral history chapters Then thing really start rolling, and to my surprise, it was all quite interesting and extremely entertaining until the very end You get Mark Arm admitting to some pretty intense heroin usage with heretofore widely unknown OD s Cobain s slow, sad dissolution some disgusting Cat Butt L7 tour stories a bizarre character named John Michael Amerika whom I need to learnabout the Sub Pop financial implosion jealousy drug use alcoholism band feuds and best of all COURTNEY LOVE in spades She is absolutely as batty as ever, is quoted multiple times in the present, and always the best chip on her shoulder read in show business.Rock and roll excess comes as no surprise to any of you, I m sure, but the further away I am from this lifestyle, thesurprisingly graphic pathetic the drugs and the drinking to stupor appear I m still naively surprised that bands I really liked were routinely shooting up before their shows Of course, Seattle was famous for this even then, both in and out of the rocknroll milieu Part of the reason I bonded so well with Bob Whittaker and the Mudhoney fellas is because they were such a blast to drink with I ll admit that I skipped all parts of this book that dealt with Alice In Chains, but I know there s a sad junkie story in there somewhere If you do read this book, do not skip the section on Candlebox , a post Nirvana grunge band whom I have never heard but whom I knew to be popular at the time Resentful, angry, and still hating each other, the band recounts how badly they were verbally beaten up on in the post Cobain era by Seattleites and others who saw them as interlopers It s as good as any reality TV you ll watch this week.In fact that s a pretty good way to sum up this book the printed equivalent of some really decent reality TV I absolutely expected to quit it after a quick brush through a couple of chapters, and there I was, three days later having read every single word except the Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone and most of the Pearl Jam stuff All right, I admit that s not a small bit to skip, but I simply could not bring myself to care What sounded somewhat preposterous when I first got the book the grunge book ended up being a pretty right on read I am lucky enough to have been born in 1964, the year the Beatles first made their way to America to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show and make history in the process I grew up listening to music My brother was a huge fan of British Invasion bands like Herman s Hermits, and my mother was listening to groups like The Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company I count myself as being fortunate that I had a ringside seat as rock music grew from restless teeanger to world weary adult I am lucky enough to have been born in 1964, the year the Beatles first made their way to America to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show and make history in the process I grew up listening to music My brother was a huge fan of British Invasion bands like Herman s Hermits, and my mother was listening to groups like The Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company I count myself as being fortunate that I had a ringside seat as rock music grew from restless teeanger to world weary adulthood So many great bands, so many great scenes.punkmetalNew Wave..the MTV revolution.I ve been here for all of it, and even today I enjoy searching out new sounds I m also a collector of rock music histories and biographies, and there seems to be an endless supply of said journalism hitting the racks every year Everybody has a story to tell or a decade to document A lot of it is fluff, some of it is interesting, and every now and again the lucky reader will stumble upon something that has significant social and historical value Everybody Loves Our Town is not one of those books, though it is an interesting and occasionally relevant piece of nostalgia for a regional musical movement that hit the zeitgeist at JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT in history to become the defining sound of its era Grunge Just hearing the word evokes memories First and foremost I have mental images of flailing guitars and flannel, hipster noise rock, and a sludgy sound that would make Black Sabbath proud I remember Nirvana and Pearl Jam blasting out of the Pacific Northwest with enough sound and fury to reinvent and reinvigorate rock music for a new generation of kids who just really didn t get Van Halen and Motley Crue Grunge seemed like a totally indefinable term Was it referring to the scraggly look of most of the bands, or was it describing the music itself, an uneasy fusion of punk rock and old school, 70s era hard rock Author Mark Yarm has trouble defining the term as well, and he admits as much in his introduction to Everybody Loves Our Town In reality, of course, there is no way to pin it down Trying to define grunge would be a waste of time, better instead to talk to the folks who were there as it began and attempt to make sense of it from that angle.In essence and form, Everybody Loves Our Town is basically the grunge version of Please Kill Me, Legs McNeil s seminal oral history of 1970s punk rock The words of the people who were there tell the tale, from the early progenitors of the scene the U Men, the Melvins to the bands that eventually broke out nationally Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains Yarm includes material culled from hundreds of hours of interviews with the musicians, producers, agents, record label owners, and other various and assorted scenesters who witnessed it all first hand.INTERLUDE Fun fact Candlebox was a legit Seattle band, even if they roundly got panned as the Nickelback of their day Another fun fact TAD was an awesome group, so awesome that they deserve a book all their own Those guys got way overlooked Last fun fact Alice in Chains was muchof a metal act than a grunge act They get included here because of the geographical and chronological associations, but they transcended the limitations of what defined grunge much like Led Zeppelin transcended what constituted heavy rock back in the day You re welcome.A big part of the narrative focuses on a band named Mother Love Bone, a group whose sole intention at the time of their formation was to be Seattle s answer to Guns N Roses Fronted by a charismatic singer by the name of Andrew Wood, Mother Love Bone COULD have and SHOULD have been the big breakout from the Seattle scene The problem was that Andrew Wood was a heroin junkie, and his death from overdose would set the tone for the darkness and self flagellation of the entire Seattle grunge ethos Mother Love Bone would regroup with a new singer and a new name, and as Pearl Jam they would go on to become one of the biggest bands in the world Maybe it was just me, but Everybody Loves Our Town seems to have a very melancholy feel to it The pervasive drug use especially heroin and dysfunction that seem to engulf just about everyone leaves little room for any type of celebration or real reflection of the historical significance of the grunge phenomenon Author Yarm is himself an outsider to the Seattle scene, he being from Brooklyn Part of the strength of Legs McNeil s book was that he was at the center of the New York punk movement as it was developing In point of fact, he was one of the people who DEFINED the New York punk scene in the 70s Yarm has no such advantage with his subject matter, and the book loses a little bit of authenticity for me because of this fact I still don t feel like the definitive history of the grunge phenomenon has been written That s not to say that this book doesn t have value, it does But I also don t think that it needs to be the last word on what was truly an era defining musical revolution CODA I got to see Pearl Jam a couple of years ago when they headlined the Austin City Limits festival They were good, great even Yeah, they were older Yeah, Eddie Vedder still got drunk on wine halfway through the set But DAMN, man..if you just closed your eyes and grooved on the music then you knew that they still had it.the magic was still there.the memories still alive It was a good show, and it was nice to know that this band that had been touched by so much darkness in the early days had managed to come through it You can read this book if you want.in fact I d probably encourage you to, if only for the nuggets about theobscure bands But in some ways you d really be better off dusting off those old Nirvana and Alice in Chains records and giving them a fresh spin Let the music tell you the story It s best that way Engrossing does not to begin to describe how good this book is I am old enough to remember when grunge got big and listening to never mind obsessively but I never understood what a big scene it was and how it happened This book was hard to put down and at points hard to read as people started to die Total five star reading This should be compelling for anyone who likes grunge, 90s music, or just reading about the lives of musicians and creative people in general The first couple of hundred pages or so were admittedly somewhat less compelling for me, at least initially, just because I didn t know who a lot of these early bands were The U Men, Green River but I gradually came to appreciate the scope of the story the author, Mark Yarm, was trying to tell, recreating the feel of Seattle in the late 80s, before Amaz This should be compelling for anyone who likes grunge, 90s music, or just reading about the lives of musicians and creative people in general The first couple of hundred pages or so were admittedly somewhat less compelling for me, at least initially, just because I didn t know who a lot of these early bands were The U Men, Green River but I gradually came to appreciate the scope of the story the author, Mark Yarm, was trying to tell, recreating the feel of Seattle in the late 80s, beforea cowboy town back then , as Hiro Yamamoto of Soundgarden puts it, not known for a history of music, a blank slate through a fugue of conflicting memories, old resentments and nostalgia The day Reagan was elected, I got on a Greyhound bus to Seattle , one of the minor players remembers, and the book allows you to vicariously experience that sense of romance feeling as though you have an infinite amount of time in front of you, and heading as far west in America as you can get that s the beauty of Greyhound, as well it might not be quick or glamorous, but it gets you where you need, or want, to go, at least within the contiguous 48 and parts of Canada One of the book s blurbs, from The Wall Street Journal, describes the Seattle music scene as a revolution that ate its own children I guess that would make Kurt Cobain Lenin Chris Cornell Trotsky they even looked somewhat similar, or is that just me Stalin would be, well, heroin, or maybe Courtney Love and Axl Rose would be Nicholas II Speaking of whom, by the way, Axl Rose that is, these guys really, truly did not like Guns N Rosesnot that I blame them There s a funny anecdote recounted by Susan Silver, who was both Soundgarden s manager and married to Chris Cornell I had a box of T shirts, some new designs And I was so excited Oh my God, I was so excited Hey, guys I have something to tell you We got an offer today to go on tourWITH GUNS N ROSES They the members of Soundgarden didn t say a word After about 30 seconds it felt like an eternity one of them said, what s in the box It would be silly to stretch the WSJ s analogy too far The diffusiveness of the voices here belies the idea that there was some shared ethos that everyone in the scene believed in also, as many people have noticed, Nirvana and Alice in Chains, for example, just don t really sound all that similar And yet there was a commonality, aside from the fact that they were all from the same city most of them, anyway Screaming Trees were from central Washington, after all, not Seattle even if the bands differed from each other stylistically, their music shared a vision of spiritual alienation that contrasted sharply with the superficiality of the hair metal that was so en vogue in the late 80s Kurt Cobain has become such a mythological figure that his inner life seems especially inaccessible to me, no matter how much testimony we get from people who knew him but the impression I got from the book is not very different from the impression that I had before he was a gifted and introverted songwriter who, practically overnight, achieved a level of fame he probably never could have imagined, became the voice of a generation by his mid 20s, and, as a real artist, felt ambivalent about what was not just fame or attention, but reverence As Krist Novoselic, Nirvana s bassist, remembers We were these young people from southwest Washington, ill equipped We didn t have the emotional support and the experience at all to deal with this And we were just whisked away whiskedup into it, and it went up and up and up, like the spaceship Challenger And then it explodedDave and I landed, right But Kurt didn t.Cobain also had serious stomach problems he mentions his stomach in his suicide note , and became addicted to heroin along with his wife Courtney Love, who never seems to have experienced any ambivalence at all about fame or attention Years later, she s still bitching that Kurt should ve been on the cover of Time, goddammit, instead of Eddie Vedder They were all riding Kurt s coattails Kurt wasn t some small dicked beta male her words At one point she very strongly insinuates that Buzz Osbourne of The Melvins attempted to murder Cobain with an overdose of heroin, and the author gives Osbourne the opportunity to respond that is a complete fabrication made by someone who is insane TheCourtney spoke, and theapparent it became that she was incapable of telling an anecdote that didn t in some way reflect positively on herself, thedubious I became of anything she had to say She also hates Candlebox and Alanis Morissette To be fair, it sounds like everyone hated Candlebox, and a short chapter is devoted to treating them with the kind of derision reserved within these pages only for Bush and Stone Temple Pilots every revolution has its johnny come latelies, after all, and none of the interviewees seem very open to the suggestion that Comedown and Glycerine might actually be great songs But I decided to look up a couple of Candlebox s singles on YouTube, unable to remember what they sounded like or even if I d ever heard them, and I have to say that Far Behind and You aren t half bad Either one at least, if you happen to have spent the 90s listening to Jersey Shore s 95.9 The Rat or some equivalent, will cause you to mumble, oh, that song Mark Arm, of the band Mudhoney, remembers traveling with Kurt Cobain.Kurt and I were on the bus between Davenport and Chicago, and Kurt said something like, I don t know how you do it Kurt was just fuckin loaded on pills, and I said something like, You just gotta want to do it bad enough What I regret not saying is, You need to dump your junkie wife, because you re not going to be able to do this while you re in a partnership with someone who s also an enthusiast A number of the interview subjects wrestle with the idea that there was something they should have done or said to help a friend escape addiction Alice in Chains is my favorite of the Seattle bands, and so it s especially sad to read about Layne Staley and what was essentially his prolonged suicide He died in 02, but started using heroin in the early 90s with his girlfriend Demri As a friend named Johnny Bacolas remembers,Layne and Demri told me they started doing dope and how wonderful it was, and right then I knew they were goners You can just tell with certain peoplethey re lifers Someone don t want to say who brought Layne some heroin because they couldn t find any coke And he tried it, and he said that was the first time he really thanked God He literally looked up to the sky and said, thank you for this feeling By most accounts, Staley was a sweet, humble and unassuming guy who really was tortured Bacolas remembers a night they spent together at Lake Chelan, in Washington Layne was trying to kick heroin that weekend, as well That was really the reason he went on that camping trip, to try to clean upone night, he drank quite a bit, and him and I are on this beach We ended up sitting at this little bridge over the lake He was very, very depressed it was basically the withdrawals and he just grabbed me and started crying And he told me that he wanted to kill himself He, in my mind, was considering doing it right then and there at that bridgeWe ended up going to this parking lot, and there s probably 30 cars there, all blasting music People smoking weed and drinking beer All teenagers We had the windows down, we were just parked, smoking cigarettes Some kids recognized Layne, and they were like, Dude, there s Layne Staley And the other guys were like, no, it s not He wouldn t be in Lake Chelan And they all came up to the car, probably 15 kids, and they re like, If you re Layne Staley, prove it And Layne was just looking straight ahead Sunglasses on, 2 o clock in the morning, wouldn t even acknowledge them Finally, one of the guys pulls up in a truck, cranks No Excuses , and he goes, If you re Layne Staley, sing along And Layne started singing Verse, chorus Nailed it, exactly like it sounded on the record All the kids were like, holy shit, it s fuckin him and then Layne s like, Let s get out of here And then we drove off A few years later, after the band s success is behind them, Nick Pollock runs into Layne, now around 30, in downtown Seattle I was in such shock because he was like a skeleton His skin was gray I don t remember him having any teeth We had a nice conversation let s get together , the usual things people say but this is surreal This is a nightmare I don t even know who I m talking to My friend, but not my friend.I d prefer to picture him that night at the lake, though There were survivors, of course, or provisional survivors Chris Cornell of Soundgarden had gotten clean and eventually created Audioslave with the former members of Rage Against the Machine Like a Stone was always nice to hear on the radio in the mid 00s and had seemed to transition into that phase of life when the days of self hatred and compulsiveness were behind him, and he d made it through or it might have at least seemed that way to younger people like myself, who would like to believe in the existence of such a stage of life But he hanged himself in a hotel room in Detroit in spring of 17, possibly having taken too much or the wrong mixture of prescribed medications I still don t really understand what happened, and I m not sure that anyone does Less than a year later, Dolores O Riordan of The Cranberries, whose voice was just as distinctive as Cornell s and puts me just as much in mind of the 90sso, actually, even though The Cranberries obviously were not from Seattle, considering that The Rat used to play Zombie and Ode to My Family about 10x as often as Outshined and Black Hole Sun , died in a hotel room in London, drowned in her bathtub while drunk, which seems to have been an accident But then there s someone like Mark Lanegan, singer of the Screaming Trees and one of Kurt Cobain s closest friends, reflecting years later there was a time when I thought I didn t have any choice in the matter, when I spent almost a year in various situations jail, rehab, halfway house And just through the sheer fact that I wasn t able to get outside, so to speak and also because I really just did not want to live that way any longer for me it wasn t hard It was the end of a nightmare that had lasted for years and years I had always hoped that I would be able to stop, but I never was able to Eventually, I was A lot of that had to do with changing my way of thinking on a great many thingssome battles you just have to give up I was pretty stubborn, I thought I could do a lot of things myself but the smartest guys I knew are not around any, because they thought they could think their way out of an unthinkable situation.Never heard of Mark Lanegan I hadn t, either But that s okay He didn t become especially famous, didn t become the voice of a generation, but he got to stay alive Or, as an Alice in Chains song goes, but that don t last forever,something s gotta turn out right. `READ KINDLE ⇥ Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge ⇝ Twenty years after the release of Nirvana s landmark album Nevermind comes Everybody Loves Our Town An Oral History of Grunge, the definitive word on the grunge era, straight from the mouths of those at the center of it all In , fledgling Seattle label C Z Records released Deep Six, a compilation featuring a half dozen local bands Soundgarden, Green River, Melvins, Malfunkshun, the U Men and Skin Yard Though it sold miserably, the record made music history by documenting a burgeoning regional sound, the raw fusion of heavy metal and punk rock that we now know as grunge But it wasn t until five years later, with the seemingly overnight success of Nirvana s Smells Like Teen Spirit, that grunge became a household word and Seattle ground zero for the nineties alternative rock explosion Everybody Loves Our Town captures the grunge era in the words of the musicians, producers, managers, record executives, video directors, photographers, journalists, publicists, club owners, roadies, scenesters and hangers on who lived through it The book tells the whole story from the founding of the Deep Six bands to the worldwide success of grunge s big four Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains from the rise of Seattle s cash poor, hype rich indie label Sub Pop to the major label feeding frenzy that overtook the Pacific Northwest from the simple joys of making noise at basement parties and tiny rock clubs to the tragic, lonely deaths of superstars Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley Drawn from thannew interviews with members of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, Hole, Melvins, Mudhoney, Green River, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, Mad Season, L, Babes in Toyland,Year Bitch, TAD, the U Men, Candlebox and many and featuring previously untold stories and never before published photographs, Everybody Loves Our Town is at once a moving, funny, lurid, and hugely insightful portrait of an extraordinary musical era