Everybody Loves Our Town

Everybody Loves Our Town– by Mark Yarm.

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.

READ  To Die For

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.


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