Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge

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9780571249862: Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge

Grunge, also known as the 'Seattle sound', is the sludgy fusion of punk rock and heavy metal that emerged from the Pacific Northwest in the early part of the 1980s. But it was the unexpected, seemingly overnight success of Nirvana's single 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' in the fall of 1991, that made grunge a household word and launched an American music movement on par with punk and hip-hop.20 years later, Mark Yarm captures that era in the words of those at the forefront of the movement (and the music's lesser-known champions). Everybody Loves Our Town will tell the whole story: the founding of originators like Soundgarden and the Melvins, the early successes of Seattle's Sub Pop record label, the rise of powerhouses Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the insane media hype surrounding the grunge explosion, the suicide of Kurt Cobain, and finally, the genre's mid-to-late-'90s decline.

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Review:

An Interview with Author Mark Yarm

Q.) Why do you think grunge took off in Seattle as opposed to somewhere else at that time?
A lot of it had to do with geographical isolation. Many people don’t seem to realize that in the ’80s--before the Starbucks/Microsoft/Amazon boom era--Seattle wasn’t the cosmopolitan place it is today. People in the rest of the country pretty much considered it the hinterlands; a couple interviewees told me that back in the day, people who weren’t familiar with Seattle would ask them, in all sincerity, “Seattle? Aren’t there cowboys and Indians out there?” Often times, touring bands would simply skip Seattle because it was too far out of their way. So, in effect, musicians in that region had to make their own fun. And in the process, they honed their own sound.

Q.) What are the biggest misconceptions people have about grunge?
Probably the biggest one is that all these musicians were overly earnest gloom mongers sticking needles in their arms. Of course, a few were overly earnest and some were sticking needles in their arms, but for the most part--and I think this comes across in the book--these musicians were just super-funny and huge jokesters.

Q.) Where does the book’s title come from?
Speaking of humor in grunge... “Everybody loves our town” is a lyric from “Overblown,” an extremely arch song Mudhoney wrote for the Cameron Crowe movie Singles. It pretty much deflates the hype surrounding the scene at the time and takes a semi-veiled jab at at least one grunge superstar.

Q.) What’s your favorite grunge song?
It almost seems too obvious an answer, but Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick” is pretty much perfect--and perfectly encapsulates the scuzzy “grunge” guitar sound and scabrous humor of the scene. Nirvana’s “Negative Creep” comes to mind too.

Q.) Is there a grunge band that should have made it big that did not?
Had their super-charismatic lead singer Andrew Wood not died of a drug overdose in 1990, Mother Love Bone--the band from which Pearl Jam sprung--would likely have made it big. Also, TAD--a band fronted by Tad Doyle, who was marketed as a 300-pound ex-butcher from Boise--appeared primed for success in the early ’90s. But TAD was beset by bad luck at nearly every turn. Their downward spiral began when their album 8-Way Santa had to be yanked from shelves because the band used this hilarious, very saucy photo of a couple on the cover without their permission. (Google it.) Legend has it that the woman in the picture had since found God, and the couple took legal action.

Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge author Mark Yarm put together this list of 15 grunge tracks (ranging from the obscure to the chart-topping) discussed in the book.

1. Mudhoney “Touch Me I’m Sick”
2. U-Men “They”
3. Green River “Ain’t Nothing to Do”
4. Soundgarden “Nothing to Say”
5. Nirvana “Love Buzz”
6. TAD “Jack”
7. 7 Year Bitch “Lorna”
8. Mother Love Bone “Crown of Thorns”
9. Temple of the Dog “Hunger Strike”
10. Pearl Jam “Even Flow”
11. Alice in Chains “Fear the Voices”
12. Screaming Trees “Nearly Lost You”
13. Melvins “Sky Pup”
14. Candlebox “You”
15. Mudhoney “Overblown”

A Look Inside Everybody Loves Our Town


Pearl Jam

Nirvana

Soundgarden

About the Author:

MARK YARM is a former senior editor at Blender magazine. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Bonnie, and is in no way related to Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm.

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Yarm, Mark
Editorial: Faber & Faber, U.S.A. (2011)
ISBN 10: 0571249868 ISBN 13: 9780571249862
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Yarm, Mark
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ISBN 10: 0571249868 ISBN 13: 9780571249862
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