Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History Of Grunge

By Mark Yarm

(Crown Archetype, 2011)

The authoritative tome on the groundbreaking style of rock that emerged around Seattle in the 1980s and crashed into the mainstream via Nirvana and Pearl Jam in the early 1990s, the excellent Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge is a must read for devoted fans of the genre.

The author Mark Yarm wisely chooses to document the era predominantly through the people who were at the centre of it – including the musicians (the late Chris Cornell providing some fascinating anecdotes), producers, DJs, fanzine writers, journalists, club owners, photographers and roadies. Staggeringly, there are over 250 exclusive interviews used by the author in the book.

Yarm pinpoints the 1986 release of the landmark Deep Six compilation on the tiny C/Z Records label that featured half-dozen local, like-minded Washington bands (including Soundgarden, Green River, Melvins and Malfunkshun) as pivotal in kickstarting the movement. He then follows the story through the small clubs, house parties and basements to the major stadiums and MTV, as Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Eddie Vedder and co catapulted to worldwide fame when Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ exploded in 1991 and turned Seattle into the music capital of the world for a period.

As well as the heady days of memorable gigs and global success, Yarm also focuses on the dark side of the era, with the tragic, lonely deaths of Cobain and Staley and the cost of fame well covered, along with largely unedifying major-label frenzy that saw local bands rapidly signed and dropped in the search for the next-Nirvana.

The book also features some never-before-seen photos from the era, and all in all is a perfect page-turner for an arduous road journey.