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Entertain Us – The Rise of Nirvana: By Gillian G. Gaar

Last Updated 10/29/2012 8:19:26 PM

By: Dawn Anderson

Entertain Us – The Rise of Nirvana By Gillian G. Gaar (Jawbone Books)Entertain Us – The Rise of Nirvana

By Gillian G. Gaar

(Jawbone Books)

If you’re looking for more tales about drugs, debauchery and death threats against journalists, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re a Nirvana fan you’ve already heard more than enough about Kurt Cobain’s heroin addiction, his aching gut, his marriage to the supposedly nefarious Courtney Love, and his tragic suicide (or was it murder?).

And forget all the “voice of a generation” brouhaha – Nirvana was and is significant for two reasons: 1.) They sold millions of records, and 2.) They didn’t suck.

I don’t mean to be flippant. Those two things almost never occur together. Those of us who counted ourselves as Nirvana’s original Seattle fans were so flummoxed by their sudden success that we felt we’d woken up on a different planet, one where our favorite bands were actually rewarded financially for their genius. For a brief moment in history, it felt like the world had suddenly pulled its head out of its ass.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the many people interviewed for this book – I hold the distinction of being the first journalist to ever interview Nirvana, not to mention the fact that I went on to marry the producer of Bleach – and author Gillian Gaar is an old friend of mine. This book describes the era closest to my heart, the time before Nirvana became famous, back when the music was all that mattered.

“Entertain Us,” like most Nirvana books, begins with Kurt and Krist’s childhood in a small Washington logging town and ends with Kurt’s suicide and its aftermath, but the main focus is on the writing and recording of the band’s music. With obsessive detail, Gaar relates the stories behind the songs, describes what makes them great (or at times not quite so great), and the often torturous process of recording. She interviewed producers Jack Endino, Steve Fisk and Butch Vig at length and spent hours listening to rare tracks and outtakes. The book is a delight for the true music geek, though the more casual fan might feel bogged down by the detail.

Me, I felt like pulling out all that old vinyl and listening again… and maybe having a good cry.

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