on 2 January 2007
This is a well-written biography of one of the best bands of the last forty years, full of anecdotes and asides on the main characters. The focus of the book is on the people - not just Kurt, Krist and Dave (and Chad, Jason, Pat etc.) but the managers, record company people and scenesters from Olympia, Seattle, LA etc.
The book starts pretty much when the band first forms, and doesn't go into unnecessary detail about the various members' childhoods and backgrounds. The author spent a lot of time with the band during their heyday and has a useful perspective on the story, and he's not afraid to say when the band sucked, nor to pull punches on the drugs issue or Courtney's behaviour.
The only downside is the author's well-known arrogance. Although he was around the band a lot he clearly thinks of himself as almost an honorary member of the group, and is almost pathetically eager to tell us every occasion when someone connected to the group refers to him as a "friend". He comes across as a little nerd, desperate to be thought of as cool and always ready with a sarcastic put-down for those he thinks he would be uncool to be associated with. Everett True needs to grow up.
That aside, for any fans of the band this is well worth a read, if only to relive those moments in the early 90s when it really seemed like music would change forever. History has shown that Nirvana didn't really change anything but that takes nothing away from the power of their awesome music...and their story is a great one!
on 27 January 2008
I think this is possibly the most honest and well informed account of the nirvana story that has come out. Come as you are is fed by the bull that nirvana themselves told Micheal Azzerad. Heavier than heaven however had too much of courtney's impact on it making her seem more innocent than she actually was. Everette True however has cut off his ties with her and has been able to get interviews with people who would before flatly refuse to talk about "Kurtney". People such as Tobi Vail and Cali De Witt, Cali especially is a very important person to get his opinion and story from as he was involved in the day to day running of the Cobain household as the nanny. If you're looking for a cobain biography don't buy this, it only skips past his childhood and gets straight into the band. This book is about the band not kurt, unfortunately the majority of the nirvana story is Kurt, there is no denying that, although he does shed light on what was happening in Krist's and Dave's life at the time which i'm grateful for. I really do believe that Everette True made this book with the best intentions and he wisely avoids the conspiracy theories pretty much leaving it to you to decide what you want to believe after reading it. I think of this book as pretty much a day to day account of the band, it doesn't point to any conclusions it is simply what Everette True knew and what he's been told by other people. The only annoying thing about the book is that Everette True likes to point out where he had helped nirvana or the grunge scene in general to the point where it seems like he's being a bit big headed about it but it could be my interpretation of it, and even so it's a minor thing in this otherwise brilliant book.
I kind of feel he should have wrote a book about the grunge scene in general as he had so much contact with so many people within it. He's also introduced me to alot of lesser known bands who i would never have heard of otherwise. Personally if you don't know much about the nirvana story I'd read heavier than heaven for the story of Kurt's life up until the band then read this as it gets rid of alot of myths that were actually thought of as facts. If you're familiar with the story as I was it gives you a whole lot more into their lives and what contributed to Kurt's death.
Definately a great book.
on 17 November 2010
Once upon a time, Everett True was a luminary of the British music press and it was during his time at Melody Maker that he played an instrumental part in bringing the first wave of the grunge movement over to the UK. Without his input, it is likely that the Seattle sound of the late 1980s would have stayed as a localised scene, a footnote in the history of independent underground music, and would never have come to the attention of the wider audience it would eventually go on to reach.
The story of Nirvana is one that's been told many times. There have been some reasonable attempts at it, although Michael Azzerad's Come As You are is a little lightweight, and Charles R Cross's Heavier Than Heaven (really a biog of Kurt Cobain) is rather sensationalised for the most part. This account is neither lightweight nor sensational and is probably the best book on Nirvana that you're ever likely to read.
It's a highly personal account. True was a good friend of the band and was one of only two people (the other being Mark Lanegan) who was asked to read at Cobain's funeral. The fact that he was on such good terms with most of the people involved means that the narrative is candid, contributers are open and honest with him, and his passion for the band and the scene in general is clear throughout. There are some lovely anecdotes (such as his take on the band's legendary performance at Reading 1992, and Cobain's claim that when he wrote School "I would have mentioned Soundgarden by name if I could......"), and despite his clear ego-mania (claiming to have been the one to introduce Cobain to Courtney Love, amongst other things) the tone is largely objective and steers clear of some of the hyperbole and hand-wringing that blights other works of this kind.
This is a book about Everett True as much as it is a book about Nirvana but it's all the more interesting for that, and it also contains fantastic insights from people such as Chad Channing, Dan Peters, Bruce Pavitt, Charles Peterson and a whole raft of others who played key roles in the Seattle scene. It would have been nice to hear from Lanegan, but as the book says "Mark is an intensely private, loyal and intimidating individual" so it's unlikely that his thoughts will ever be committed to print. If Everett True can't get the guy to talk, no one will.
A great read, then, with an easy to follow narrative and written in excellent prose, this is a must for anyone with even a slight interest in the Seattle sound. It also works as a nice companion piece to MIchael Azzerad's Our Band Could Be Your Life, an excellent overview of the US ungerground in the 1980s.
on 5 April 2013
The deal with Kurt Cobain is that you will never learn all about him from a single book or movie or anywhere else. A lot of the books about him are total rubbish with lies and exaggerations. The rest are quite good but still, often with some white lies and over elaborated stuff. Even "Come As You Are" which is the 'official' biography and comes straight from the horse's mouth, still isn't completely accurate because Kurt just didn't want to tell the truth. Whether it's because he was shy, trying to be mysterious, didn't want everyone to know everything about him, or thought he was a bit boring so wanted to jazz some aspects up a bit, it's for you to decide. But my point is, you'll never fully understand from one book.
What you can do though, is after you read the first one, read a few more and watch lots of interviews, and then like a jigsaw you can piece together all the bits yourself and come up with your own opinion on how Kurt really thought and what really happened with the band. You need to do that to see the big picture, (don't bother with "Heavier Than Heaven" which will only muddy the water).
But definitely read "Come As You Are" by Michael Azerrad (with the extra final chapter), preferably first, then watch "About a Boy" because it contains the same audio recordings Azerrad made to write the book, but it contains some bits which didn't make the book, so between the two, you get a nice full picture. Then read Cobain's Journals and see some very personal bits which you will understand easier after reading the previous book. Then look up the thousands of video interviews on "Sound of Dentage" website, and after seeing it all, you can start to piece together the truth about Kurt Cobain, or at least, the closest you are ever going to get. And then read this book, because this book fills in a lot of the missing gaps. When you combine them all, you'll feel like you know the real him, and not just the made up one he wanted you see. It still wont be 100% but it will be close enough.
on 22 October 2014
Although there is nothing amazingly new in this book for fans who have read Heavier Than Heaven, it is a more honest account of life in and around the Nirvana camp than HTH ever was. As everyone knows, Everett True was a close friend of both Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love and remains friends with a number of people who experienced the short few years of Nirvana.
The stories about the gigs were very interesting. Although it doesn't seem that Kurt enjoyed them much and as a fan it can be difficult reading how much Kurt hated the position he was in and possibly the fans too.
This is not a book for any Courtney Love fans. She does not come across in a good light. She actually sounds like an awful human being. I am a fan of Hole's first two albums but not a huge fan of the lady herself. She seems a bit more mellow these days and I understand she has had a difficult life so I hope she has changed.
I was glad that Everett included a lot of information from Cali and Rene. I often wondered what Cali's version of events were and I assumed he shied away from any press attention.
It's a well written, funny, emotional book which ultimately will leave you feeling quite devastated. It was so needless and Kurt's death didn't have to happen. As much as Everett loved Kurt he doesn't sugar coat his feelings and doesn't raise him up as some kind of Saint. I feel that it's the most honest book we will ever have on Nirvana.
on 17 November 2012
I read this book to satisfy the insatiable Nirvana obsession I've had recently. On a whole I'd say it's a good read, for the most part kept me interested, but it does tend to spend a lot of time looking at the history of the Olympia/Seattle music scene in painstaking detail, whereas I was more interested in the human story behind the band. It is full with all sorts of interviews (some more interesting than others - for instance the Cobain family's former nanny) and provides an incredibly thorough, in-depth look at Nirvana's history.
However, this is very much the `True' story in a sense that it is Everett True's story... I'm not sure how accurate Courtney Love would find it. The book does occasionally become self-absorbed; with True telling you again and again how he was so important and influential in all of this (he introduced Kurt to Courtney... nice one Everett!). But if you are able to look past this you'll find a well-written read, packed with fascinating viewpoints and interviews that will satisfy any hardcore Nirvana fan.
on 2 September 2013
This is a fantastic book about the best grunge band in the world, its really in depth and a really fantastic read!!!
on 7 August 2012
A deeply frustrating read: The journalist with possibly the best access to the band and their contemporaries has royally screwed up a fine oppportunity to produce the definitive account of Nirvana.
Everett True - a writer with Brit music mag Melody Maker at the time Nirvana broke - is incapable of not placing himself at the centre of events and telling us what HE did, what HIS musical tastes were, how much HE was drinking, the drugs HE did or didn't take ...
But I'm not interested in Everett True. I don't care about Everett True. I care about Kurt Cobain.
No matter how hard True tries to catch the sprinkling of stardust - and God knows, he doesn't fail through lack of effort - it's obvious from his writing that none of it settled. His tragic lack of self-awareness deludes him into thinking we're interested in the cult of HIS personailty, rather than that of Nirvana and their music. And the book crashes to earth with a depressing jolt each time we're reminded of the author's tedious presence.
Which happens a lot.
Where there is new information or an interview of interest, our fascination quickly becomes lost as True once more bludgeons himself into the story. True perhaps mistakenly thinks that his personal style is what will mark his book out as unique and special. Up to a point he could've been right, but he forgets the old adage that less is more. Instead he seems intent on telling us how unique and special HE is rather than channelling his efforts into the book. There, style spills over into content and what could've been a brilliant book is left fighting for its breath, dying to rise to the surface, but crushed under the weight of the author's ego.
The lack of editing is sorely felt. As is the remotest trace of humour - something I would have snatched on as a redeeming factor. It's all very well taking the art of self-indulgence to absurd new levels, but at least try and make it funny.
It's such a shame and such an incredible waste - if only a decent writer had been given the same opportunity then we could have been looking at a seminal biography. But the prose here is continually obscured by Everett True's seemingly insatiable desire to take centre stage and claim the spotlight for himself rather than focus on the real star - Cobain.
The irony is cruel: Kurt Cobain rejects fame but becomes a reluctant superstar, and here, his biographer, like a demented moth to the proverbial flame, angles for the limelight but is destined, on the evidence of this book, to remain forever in obscurity.
Everett True was, in reality - like all journalists - just another conduit used by the record company to shift units. But his palpable self-delusion makes him believe he's a real 'friend' of the band, a point we're reminded of with breathtaking regularity. It's excruciating. Christ, I can almost see Kurt's eyes rolling to the heavens as this crashing bore weaseled his way onto the tourbus for yet another free ride.
And yet, even when he's on that tourbus, rather than giving us an inside track of life therein, we are invariably left with the indelible image of True, arms flailing wildly, as he waves at us from the window, flaunting his insecurities as he reminds us for the umpteenth time that he was there and we weren't. It's like the sound of a spoilt child repeating 'na na, na na naa.' Ad nauseam.
Even here True unintentionally scores a dramatic own-goal, making me unremittingly joyous that I wasn't indeed there, just so I successfully avoided the stultifying experience of a chance meeting with him.
Everett True patently wants to be thought of as a Lester Bangs or a Nick Kent, but instead comes across as a total non-entity. There's a chasm that separates great gonzo journalism with the spurious attention-seeking of a self-obsessed wannabe. Sadly, True never fails to walk the wrong side of the line. It's the misguided, dumb choice of a writer driven by an unfailing lack of modesty. As a result, this book - something that might well have given him the lasting legacy he obviously craves - ends up becoming little more than self-referential tittle-tattle.
True is killed by his own sword - a pen that can't bear to drag itself away from the mirror.
All of this is very odd because True - to be kind - is no oil-painting, and from what he writes, seems, quite frankly, to be nothing short of an utter goon. From whence the whopping ego? He seems drunk on his own alcohol-infested urine. Oh yeah, drink. Please, can someone tell me why a post-middle-aged man looking back at his time with Nirvana would be at such great pains to stress how inebriated he was in the line of duty? Oh really? Were you really, really, really drunk Everett? Ooh, aren't you big and clever. Duh.
I kid you not, his alcohol intake is referenced more than Dave Grohl. And this is a book about Nirvana? Hardly. I seriously think True has convinced himself that drinking lots is an outward sign of his own tortured genius and incontrovertible charisma. But charisma is quite plainly something True wouldn't recognize if it rammed itself up his backside, passaged its way through his intestines and emerged from his own mouth shouting - at volume turned to 11 - 'HELLO!!! I AM CHARISMA!'
As for tortured genius; please. The only thing tortured here is the reader.
And yet that's not even half as ridiculous as to how he portrays his relationship with Courtney Love. True fawns over her like a swooning lump of lard, making him appear slightly less attractive than cancer. He constantly insinuates that their 'friendship' was, perhaps, something more. As in sexual.
Cue frisson of excitement. Not.
It's such a cheap shot and is quite transparently aimed at aligning the author with Cobain as a worthy male competitor in the pursuit of the same woman. The idea of it is ludicrous. Not only is True way, way out of his depth, but he's also guilty of the macho posturing he professes to despise.
Whatever, had I been Courtney I would probably have indulged his every sexual whim - just so I felt like I had given to charity. Well, that or purely to serve the purpose of keeping the guy quiet for a couple of minutes.
So, did he or didn't he? Quite frankly, I stopped caring. By page 4.
Jesus, how Kurt and Courtney (or 'Kurtney' as True labels them in another failed bid to get down with the kids) tolerated this numbnut is beyond me.
Honestly, this book is so utterly charmless. It continuously left me wondering if I had mistakenly purchased a book about a frustrated and failed rock star - the writer - rather than a book about Nirvana.
Be warned: This is NOT the story of Nirvana; it's the embellished tale of a self-annointed arbiter of musical taste whose obsession with what's 'cool' or not makes him appear boorish and distinctly uncool.
Everett True just ends up looking desperate and nauseatingly anxious for reflected glory and recognition. Sadly, it's that very desperation which has prevented him from writing an account that could have made a lasting, historical contribution to a legendary band.
Instead we're left with the pitiful wails of an infantile man who - years later - still can't resist shouting 'look at me!' to an audience that only ever wanted to look at Kurt Cobain.
on 12 September 2006
The Nirvana story has been done to death in the past few years. Kurt died in 1994 & to many new to his music the name instills a gasp as if he never existed. I for one can say that in the short time Nirvana lived with the people the music touched many more than care to admit. I worked as a butcher during the Nirvanamania years & spent many a damp night in a tent or standing in a field so I could share a moment with my hero's. These times are memories that I remember with great pride, safe in the knowedge that even though Kurt died many years ago his spirit lives through all who believed. Everett True, music writer & friend to the stars who grace these pages has in my opinion written a great insight into the world that we all at that time wanted to be a part of. The story will be a familliar one to those who have read the fantastic "come as you are" but has been bettered by this outsider who became a friend.
on 8 November 2006
No, I'm not being cynical just to be perverse. I'm just not sure if I enjoyed this book or not. It was informative and in places interesting but I can't say I'd read it again. I honestly think too much time has passed since the Grunge movement for people to remember every single detail clearly. If Cali De Witt was a junkie then how the hell can his word be taken as gospel? As with all books about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, this book raises more questions than it answers. The only person who can tell us the truth is gone and whilst I hope he is never forgotten maybe we should just enjoy the music rather than try to understand someone who didn't want to be understood. Still a good read for any Nirvana fan but don't expect to get closer to Kurt