Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge

[Crown Archetype]

Never have the people responsible for starting a musical movement been so quick to tear down their own myth. From the moment the sound known as “grunge” emerged from the Pacific Northwest, the sobriquet was universally rejected by the artists to whom it was applied. From well before the moment major record labels began making their way up to Seattle, smelling money amid the trees and flannel, these folks knew better than to get their hopes up like members of the punk or psychedelic scenes before them—they knew their moment would be fleeting, and that eventually the music business would move on to the next big thing.

That aura of almost painful self-awareness hangs over Mark Yarm’s oral history Everybody Loves Our Town (the title, borrowed from a Mudhoney lyric, is itself a sneer at grunge’s popularity). The author builds a compelling narrative by looking well beyond usual suspects like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains to find less ballyhooed Seattle acts like the Melvins, TAD and 7 Year Bitch. Many were left permanently damaged by their various and fleeting brushes with success, although perhaps none as much as those who actually found what they were looking for. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Alice’s Layne Staley each numbed themselves with heroin, the drug that became a scourge of their home city, until they succumbed to suicide or slow decay. Everybody steadily picks up speed as those tragedies unfold and grunge itself hurtles toward an early grave, making for an engrossing—if depressing—read. –CN

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