If there were ever a college course designed around the study of Grunge (and you know there likely is) Mark Yarm’s exhaustive study of the Seattle music scene Everybody Loves Our Town is the only text book you will ever need to buy.
Just released in paperback, the book is the alpha and omega on the genre that killed hair metal. Told entirely in direct quotes, oral history style, the book begins years before Nirvana and Soundgarden were even put together when a collective of punk rock-inspired delinquents decide to light a local lake on fire to back up their free concert in the park. With that fire, and the near riot that quickly followed, the seeds of grunge were planted.
The book features all the major players for the Pacific Northwest: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, even Candlebox (yup, Candlebox, who try and explain exactly why everyone but Madonna hated them. Also quoted extensively throughout is non-Seattle native Courtney Love, burning bridges and trash talking as only she can.
One of the funniest chapters focuses on the source of the term “grunge” a word everyone hates, but one just about everyone claims to have coined. Also humorously discussed is how the major labels screwed everything up, yet those few bands that never got the opportunity to sign to a major are still clearly pissed off at the slight having wanted to sell out just like their buddies.
Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry may have taken over the airwaves, but Everybody Loves Our Town is a good reminder of a time when you could actually hear Screaming Trees and Temple of the Dog on the radio.
Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge By Mark Yarm/Paperback/Three Rivers Press/592 pages/2012