Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History Of Grunge by Mark Yarm (Three Rivers Press)

A few years back I reviewed a book called Grunge Is Dead by Greg Prato (https://midnighttosix.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/grunge-is-dead-by-greg-prato-ecw-press/) which recounted the history of “grunge” – a term nobody likes, yet everyone’s stuck with – via quotes from the people who were there to witness it firsthand. Strangely enough, Everybody Love Our Town is pretty much the same exact story, told in the same exact quote-driven format, taken from interviews with a lot of the same people (although it uses entirely new set of quotes and gets input from some key people missing from Grunge Is Dead, like Chris Cornell, Mark Lanegan, Buzz Osbourne, and Dave Grohl, among others). What’s even stranger is that, even with all that redundancy, it’s still an entirely compelling and entertaining read. It works because the bands and individuals covered are a fascinating mix of artists, drugged-up losers, calculated opportunists, has-beens, never-weres, and should-have-beens, who made up a vibrant and organic local scene that became a microcosm of everything great and horrible about the music business; and that story is never boring.

Author Mark Yarm (who is not Mudhoney singer Mark Arm with a typo) has a strong insider’s understanding of what the Seattle scene was really about and doesn’t just focus on “the big four” (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains), giving fair representation to everyone who made a mark there, from originators like The Melvins, Tad and the U-Men, to unwelcome scene-killers Candlebox (ugh) and Courtney Love (quadruple-ugh), who come off really poorly. I can take or leave most of these bands outside of Mudhoney, Nirvana and Mark Lanegan’s stuff, but I love reading about all the wild characters and chaotic happenings of the grunge era. I’d even welcome a third similarly-written book on the topic if someone wants to write it!