- Books, Literature, and Writing
Grunge is Dead:Book Review
The word "Grunge"
The word "grunge" was a term made up by the media, so I was hesitant to read a book labeled "Grunge is Dead." I figured it was some guy writing his opinion about the "scene." I thought it would be some guy spreading lies about people he "knew."
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was simple,yet complex. The entire book is comprised of interviews from band members, managers, families associated with this genre of music. It really can't be any more authentic.
You WILL learn something new in this book
I considered myself pretty well-versed in at least some of the main grunge bands. I'm a huge fan of Alice in Chains and Nirvana. I like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. I've also heard many other bands like Screaming Trees, Mudhoney, L7, and many more. As it turned out, I learned a lot from this book.
A big part of how this book is laid out is by decade. I was surprised to find out how grunge really started back in the 70's, it just grew in popularity in the late 80's, early nineties, There are many quotes in here from people of bands I'd never heard of.
Even as a huge Alice in Chains fan, there was information I didn't know about, even after watching every interview I could find on Youtube. I didn't know how well Layne and Kurt knew each other. I thought they were acquaintances however Susan Silver states that they actually spent a lot of time together. Something I found VERY interesting came from Layne's mom. She shared Layne's opinion of how Kurt died and he said Kurt was murdered. I NEVER thought I would hear that and I couldn't believe it took until this book to find out.
What's so special about this book?
The best part about this book is that it's basically a primary source. The author's view can not compromise what was said. Whether you can trust a rockstar, however, is a whole other story. Because this book is written chronologically, it is very easy to follow. All the quotes are written in a way as a response to what was going on in that time frame, based around a theme. For example, Layne Staley's mom, Nancy, wrote about how she felt when Layne told her about the name "Alice in Chains." All of her words were the ones that stuck with me the most.
You will read about how other musicians felt about each other. Jerry Cantrell talks about how it took him a long time to get into Nirvana, and how the rest of Alice in Chains were immediately hooked. I thought that was a very cool perspective.
This book was pretty much written in first person, which makes me feel like I am in the time and place of the grunge scene. Whenever I read the section about how different people reacted to Kurt Cobain's death, I really felt the depression that hung over the entire area.
The parts I really feel strongly about, however, are the parts where Layne's mom talks about his drug abuse. She spills out her feelings about seeing him decline and how fame and drugs took him down slowly. I find it interesting that she confided a lot of information in this book. There aren't really video or magazine interviews with her, yet she told this author, Greg Prato, about some really deep thoughts. While of course I wanted his last few years respected, I still wanted to know how Layne struggled and what other people saw as well. The rest of Alice in Chains spoke a lot as well, and if you know anything about them, you would know that they hate the media. I was shocked at how much they talked about topics they would never share with say, Rolling Stone.
Kurt Cobain Tribute
Early Alice in Chains
"Grunge is Dead" isn't particularly a novel. I would say it's more like a journal comprised of different "authors." I just love the way it's put together. It's almost like a conversation between everyone, from the bigger bands, the smaller bands, and their managers, and families. I love skipping around to different parts that were monumental to the "scene," such as Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, and Layne Staley's deaths. (It's surprising how many deaths there were. Drugs...)
Every once in a while I pick it up and learn something new. I don't know all the bands and obviously I'm not too interesting in what their manager or ex-drummer has to say, for example, but just the other day, I read it and found out how the name "Alice in Chains" came to be. I've watched so many interviews where this question was asked and they either didn't remember or they didn't take the interview seriously. Just when I thought I couldn't learn any more, I did from this book.
Music from this decade was obviously very influential for our current music and I find it very easy to connect with this music, especially through "Grunge is Dead."
I often have a hard time concentrating on one book. I can't finish them but with this one, I don't really have to. I can skip around and see quotes from Jerry Cantrell, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, etc. and learn more about them. You don't have to read this thoroughly and can definitely skip around. If you're a casual fan I think you'll enjoy it and if you're a hardcore fan of any grunge music, you NEED it.