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Everybody Loves Our Town and the Birth of Grunge

How a talented bunch of heroin addicts and shoplifters created a boomtown

Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge
By Mark Yarm
Crown Archetype
592pp; $25.00

 

Kurt Cobain famously opened Nirvana’s final studio album, In Utero, with the lines “Teenage angst has paid off well / Now I’m bored and old.” In the Seattle of the early 1990s, nothing, not even worldwide commercial success and near-universal artistic acclaim, was above moaning about. Indeed teenage angst did pay off well. Grunge, the musical genre of which Nirvana was Exhibit A, was at once a grassroots repudiation of the hair-metal hegemony that preceded it and a commercial juggernaut that woke up the world to Seattle. It also completely upended the music business, elevating independent labels and precipitating a major-label gold rush to the Pacific Northwest.