I am doing a new edition of my 2001 book Live Through This: American Rock Music in the 90s. It got amazing reviews when it came out, including a particularly memorable full-page Uncut write-up by the much-missed Carol Clerk. It’s been out of print for at least a decade now.
I mentioned this on Facebook a couple of days ago, and 120+ friends suggested they would be interested in buying a copy. Stuff has moved on very fast since then.
I have my son Isaac on board, helping out with scanning, proof-reading and layout – and reckon I will be good to go in about two weeks time. Not sure I can go with photo insert pages but I will see (otherwise I may ask the inimitable Vincent Vanoli for some full-page illustrations). The cost is a little more as the book is easily twice the size of the previous Rejected Unknown titles.
I do NOT want to sell this via Indiegogo as they cream off too much money in exchange for no work, so I’m hoping to sell it direct to you here. If 120 of you come through, I can get this printed in a month’s time.
The book will retail for £13.99, but you good folk can purchase it right now for £11 (UK), £15 (Europe) and £18 (rotw). That includes p&p.
Make it £40 if you would like a thank you in the book or a signed copy. The world-famous “night out with Everett True” is still on for £150 (I still owe Frances Healy one from last time); and a masterclass in music criticism for £250.
Please PayPal me the money at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Make sure you clearly signpost which book you want and click ‘friend’) .Or use https://www.paypal.me/JThackray
Spread the word, and I will keep you updated as to the book’s progress here.
P.S. copies of Ed Sheeran is Shit are still available, but moving fast. Order both together for a discount on p&p.
Couldn’t sleep last night, worrying about stuff.
Around 4am, I was trawling through Facebook and came across an update from the ever-wonderful David Stubbs showing a 105-strong pile of pre-sold books he’d signed at Sounds Of The Universe the other day. I am really happy the book is doing so well for him, and certain the book is a terrific read. My point is this, however.
Everything is relative. If I could manage to pre-sell that many of the new edition of “Live Through This” I would be totally made up, might even consider increasing the print run. I have had hundreds of friends offer me encouragement here in the last few days, for which I am grateful. But if you could all just *order* a copy….
I feel, live and breathe every single sale of my book. Every single sale. How many authors can truly say that?
UNCUT (BOOK OF THE MONTH)
Everett True is famous for two things. He’s the last of the big personality journalists, his prose ringing out “I” and “me” more loudly and frequently than the “he” or “she” he happens to be writing about. He was also a friend and confidante of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.
It’s fitting, then, that he should make his publishing debut with a memoir of those years of insanity at the heart of the thing they called grunge. It was Everett who brought the label men scurrying to Seattle with their cheque books after writing excitedly in Melody Maker about the city’s independent rock scene in 1989.
Everett, too, introduced Kurt to Courtney, appeared onstage with both Nirvana and Hole, joined their tours, dialled the Cobains’ home number at his pleasure, and was welcome in any of their houses, there to find the royal couple holding court on whatever controversy has recently exploded around them.
When Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, Everett was summoned to their Seattle house by Courtney Love, an occasion that he recognises as “the rock journalist’s ultimate dream”.
Nirvana fans know all these things, but their hopes for juicy gossip or revelation from Everett’s book will be frustrated. This reads like a journal, but with more gaps than most: Everett was usually too drunk to remember a lot of what happened. And for drunk, read absolutely legless, falling over, throwing up and passing out.
He wasn’t taking many notes, either. Kurt made it in a condition of his travels with Nirvana that he came along as a friend, not a journalist. Everett never betrayed that trust – although this sometimes conflicted directly with his professional duties – and it’s unlikely he ever will.
He talks about “the politics around Nirvana”, the rift between Kurt and Courtney on the one hand and Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl on the other, without going into any detail other than the suggestion that Kurt has been getting a little power-crazy, and he’s equally guarded in his descriptions of the period leading up to Kurt’s funeral.
He avoids the speculation surrounding the state of the Cobains’ marriage before Kurt’s death, and refuses to discuss the theory that Love was involved, as proposed in books and in the Kurt And Courtneyfilm.
Controversy aside, there’s plenty of Kurtney, portrayed in a series of domestic scenarios, interviews, gig reviews and memories that spring wildly from the general fog of alcoholic confusion.
In the final and most fascinating chapters, Everett closely analyses the course of his relationship with his one-time best friend Courtney, assessing their “dysfunctional co-dependence” with a humbling honesty, and his experiences tell us more about the diva Love than she probably ever will. If Nirvana’s corporate success ultimately became disillusioning, Courtney’s pretty-on-the-outside movie stardom struck an even more disappointing blow.
Yet, Everett admits to a certain resentment that as Courtney’s fortunes rose, his fell correspondingly, leading to an almost complete estrangement. This is a humbler Everett True than his readers know, one who wonders about his relationship with Kurt: “Maybe the only reason we hung out together was because his glory reflected upon me and gave me that illusion of glamour I’d been searching for all my life.”
Writing as a fan, a feminist, an outsider and a sober fiancée, Everett looks back over his glory years with the benefit of hindsight, seeking an explanation for actions he can barely recall, picking out the compromises and betrayals that fractured his perfect world, and rounding out the musical and personal philosophies that his frantic, frequently ridiculous despatches may once have obscured.
Still, the old, marauding egomaniac is never too far away to celebrate his drinking exploits with the likes of Kim and Kelley Deal and his fights with anyone who caught him at the wrong end of a whiskey bottle. Critically as cantankerous and bloody-minded as ever, he trashes The Foo Fighters and Beck, and brings the action briefly back to England for a spirited defence of the Riot Grrrl movement. None of the story is really about the bands. It’s about Everett True and how he lived through this. (Carol Clerk, 3.5/5)
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
Melody Maker journalist Everett True (aka Jerry Thackray, aka The Legend) was, according to Courtney Love, “the guy that runs England”. He is also the guy who, according to this account, originally introduced Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. He used the “hello, hello, hello, hello” refrain from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as his answer phone message before the single was even released. He had premonitions. He saw angels of death. He drank a lot. His unique account – of regret, bravado, desire, loneliness, fandom, desperation and impotence – turns out to be less about the grunge “stars” and more about the experiences of being a hanger-on, a groupie, a journalist, a friend, when the people around you are global icons and you are not. Maybe none of this is true. Maybe it all is. When a voice is this authentic and has this much relentless passion, who cares? (ST, 4/5)
KERRANG! (BOOK OF THE WEEK)
Obviously, in a perfect world the focal point, central character and most important ingredient in any example of music journalism would be the writer. That’s obviously because our opinions as self-appointed guardians of the nation’s tastes/vicariously talented leeches on the arse of the industry (delete as applicable), are so much more relevant and important than the average man on the street who actually has to pay for his music. Or as Everett True so succinctly put it on page 223 of ‘Live Through This’… “Here’s what makes me different from you: I understand the power of music.”
Oh yes, Mr True can certainly be infuriating – as this long-awaited grunge epitaph clearly demonstrates – and reading his opinions is uncannily akin to the most exquisite strain of masochism, but that’s what makes him so compelling. He’s the limpet-like ligger we all love to hate, who wields his fearsomely opinionated poisoned quill like a vitriolic machete while shamelessly dropping household names like major record labels dropped his favourite bands post-‘In Utero. I absolutely defy you to read this book without shouting the word ‘wrong!’ at it with alarming frequency, but I similarly defy you to put it down.
No one is better qualified to deliver ‘the first and last word on grunge’ then Everett; for it was he who initially championed the genre and, for better or worse, introduced Kurt to Courtney. But rather than truly deconstruct the lives and works of ‘Kurtney’ in any great depth, as we’d all expect (and most probably prefer), he repeatedly slips into first person singular boozed anecdotage and the myriad inarguable reasons as to why Smashing Pumpkins were shit, and Half-Japanese weren’t. Which is ace, but not really why you originally shelled out your 15 nicker.
Ultimately, ‘Live Through This…’ is a pretty good book about Nirvana, Hole and grunge, but a bloody great one about Everett True. (Ian Fortnam, 4/5)
Anybody who dipped regularly into the now-defunct Melody Maker in the early to mid-90s will be familiar with the name and style of Everett True, a journalist who informed the UK of Seattle’s nascent grunge scene in 1989 (and in doing so, became deeply involved in it – he was the man who introduced Courtney Love to the primary player in this book, Kurt Cobain).
This is his memoir of the grunge years, from its beginnings (“the Real Grunge”, as he puts it, of the Melvins, Amphetamine Reptile and Babes In Toyland) to its ungraceful demise in the hands of “Pop Grunge” (Pearl Jam, Lemonheads) plus a section dedicated to Hole, and Courtney in particular. It’s a riveting journey, plagued (as you might imagine) with drug abuse, tragedy and horror in many forms, but True’s passion for music (and his corresponding disdain for its later, watered-down incarnations) makes for fascinating reading.
He’s managed to look beneath the surface of the scene, too, analysing its roots and the motivations of its leading players – all of which makes for a complete picture of interest on several levels. Occasionally the chin-stroking becomes irksome, and the author’s stream-of-consciousness can seem just a tad pretentious (“Hold up. That is so untrue, I can’t believe I just wrote the previous line” – delete it, then!), but the book remains something of an achievement nonetheless. (Joel McIver)
An opinionated and idiosyncratic staff writer at the Melody Maker in the early 1990s, Everett True became the first champion of Nirvana and the Seattle-based Sub Pop label. Crossing the traditional boundaries that separate journalist, fan and friend, he became very close with the band and their doomed singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain, eventually introducing him to his future wife, Courtney Love. Putting himself at centre stage in his own writing, True–a pen name of a surprisingly shy individual called Jerry Thackray–became as controversial a personality as the British music press has ever had. Live Through This is a typically personal overview of 90s American rock music which finds True/Thackray looking close and hard at his relationships with Cobain, Love and the music that was always at the centre of his obsession.
Reporting from the front line of the American rock scene throughout the tumultuous 1990s, Everett True’s passion for music took him through all manner of tragedy and emotional upheaval. Tonight, he discusses Live Through This, a heartfelt overview of a subterranean pop scene teeming with leftfield genius, from titans like Nirvana through to cultish curios Galaxie 500. (SC)
Renowned pisshead, egotist and former Melody Maker writer, Everett True was a close friend of grunge superstars Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. ‘Live Through This’ is an insider’s version of the Seattle grunge story, from the rise of the Sub Pop label to the messy fallout of Cobain’s suicide. Ridiculously self-obsessed – True namechecks himself constantly – he is nonetheless full of debauched tales, most of which end with the writer vomiting or passing out, and refreshingly militant (Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and Beck all get a hilariously vicious slating). Hysterical, confusing and great fun, ‘Live Through This’ is a unique account of a bizarre and exhilarating era for music. (Robin Wilks, 4/5)
Two tomes will be published in Cobain’s honour this autumn. One is a moving, life-affirming account of Nirvana and the alternative music culture they inhabited by a knowledgeable insider; the other a turgid, sentimental pot-boiler by a mainstream hack. I’ll give you three cynical, post-grunge guesses which’ll be topping the bestseller’s lists come Christmas.
Editor of Seattle rag The Rocket (which, tellingly, never covered Nirvana until well into their ascendence) Charles R Cross weighs in with Heavier Than Heaven. With a title that recalls some turgid power-ballad, it’s the perfect coffee-table volume for people whose sole Nirvana purchase was the MTV Unplugged album – savour the tragedy! the non-threatening acoustic setting! – and clueless media pundits like Emma B to appropriate opinions for their next talking-heads show: cf her gobsmackingly ignorant ‘insight’ on Nirvana’s ecstatic The Word appearance, La B achingly imploring the viewers to witness “the pain in his eyes”. Fuckwit.
Heavier Than Heaven is filled with such embarrassing sentimentalism. Forget the thrilling gash Nirvana tore in rock’s tired physique, Cross has plundered Cobain’s diaries and home-movies to piece together The Tragedy Of A Rock Star. It opens with Cross describing a home-video of Frances Bean’s first Christmas, noting that the scene resembles any other such heart-warming moment, save for the hypodermic needles nestled in their toothbrush-holder. The salacious voyeurism continues until its concluding nadir, the suicide scene where Cross somehow (via a Seattleite Doris Stokes, perhaps) documents the last thoughts running through Cobain’s mind. Written not as the speculation it so clearly is, but as absolute GODDAMN FACT.
Heavier Than Heaven is rancid trash biography at its worst, and will doubtless serve as the sole source material for the inevitable Hollywood Cobain biopic (Kurt played by Matt Damon, Courtney played by, well, Courtney, probably).
Cobain serves as the lead in a vast array of characters in Live Through This, ex-Melody Maker Assistant Editor Everett True’s eyewitness journey through a truly Subterranean Pop. Written in the intensely subjective, self-reverential style that has won True as many detractors as fans throughout his career, Live Through This is superior in its personal stance not least because True was a genuine friend of the bands he documents – whereas Cross eschewed Nirvana in their lifetime, in favour of Springsteen fandom. This makes ET’s account of Nirvana’s flashfire career (and the final chapter’s acrid, painful treatise on Hole and Courtney Love) that much more valid, and moving; Everett was a (i)part(i) of the story. The Kurt pieced together from Everett’s own fragmented recollections – the story still too painful and too personal for total recall – is, for all the vagueness of the characterisation, luminous and real in a way Cross, for all his tireless research never achieves. But then, Everett’s research extends no further than his own heart, where the true story resides.
Everett’s finest achievement is reclaiming Cobain from Tee-shirt icon for troubled youth, and Nirvana from the metal canon. No, Everett concentrates on the anti-masculine tendencies of Nirvana, setting them in context of Olympian revolutionaries, Huggy nations and a young America deconstructing rock’n’roll with a fresh sense of irony and exploration. Screaming Trees, Beat Happening, Galaxie 500, Babes In Toyland – bands now forgotten by MTV Rolling Stone Rock HIStory, but in Everett’s narrative accorded an importance and power their music warrants. A verdant rock’n’roll underground, teeming with creativity and beauty, accompanied by a discography you’ll want to buy whole.
But then, Everett loves and lives this music, whereas Cross is just telling a story for profit. If you love rock’n’roll, if it means something more than mere soundtrack and pose to you, Live Through This is a relic of a fleetingly more optimistic time. And Heavier Than Heaven, well, that’s the reason why everything went so badly wrong. Not for Cobain, that is, but for the culture. (Stevie Chick)
Most every book about rock music written by rock journalists is, almost by definition, boring in the extreme (one reason I’ve not written one) – but [Everett’s] never is. Respect. (Keith Cameron)
When I walk to town, and more particularly when I walk back, I have the greatest stories in my head. I have the wittiest articles spiralling out of control through my mind. When I walk.
When I sit down, however, that’s another story entirely. When I sit down I find that the walking words just evaporate. They fly away, picked up and torn apart by the breeze like blossom in March mornings.
But that’s life.
I’ve been reading Everett’s Live Through This these past days, and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. I’m not sure what the definition of a great music book would be but I think I’d have to put amongst my criteria the need for the book to make me want to hear the artists referred to, and for the author to refrain from actually writing about music at all. Everett seems to me to fulfil both of these criteria pretty well, the first one the more so because I’ve actually heard most of what he writes about in this book and hated it with a passion as great as his love, and still… you know what? I think, oh maybe I should just go out and listen again… which is stupid, and Everett, I hate you so much for making me think I ought to listen again to Soundgarden. You bastard.
As for the second criteria, well, that’s the one that really seems to separate the bores from the poets. The bores are the ones who will write about music in terms of the tedious things like, oh, song structure and chords and hum hum hum, I’m bored of writing that already; LOOK, here’s what it boils down to: You either produce your art to make sense of yourself in your world, or you just fuck off and take up needlecraft.
Everett writes to make sense of himself, and in the process maybe he makes some sense of your world too, but that’s a bonus and it doesn’t count for much at all, if anything. Maybe.
In a recent Amazon interview Everett suggests that he was/is a cipher, which is a complete load of crap, because at his best Everett was/is never a medium through which anyone else communicates, it’s just himself, reading his world, hearing his sounds and dreaming his stupid dreams, just like the rest of us (ought to be doing). He just manages to capture it in words far better than most.
Hey, I’ll tell you why I love Everett True, and I’ll tell you why I love Paul Morley, and Lester Bangs as well: it’s because they all, in their own ways, realise(d) that whilst music is the greatest thing in the(ir) world, it doesn’t really mean a fucking thing. They realise(d) that what really matters, what really counts, cuts to the quick and draws out the blood and fire, is the soul, the guts, the raw energy, the intellectual philosophising, whatever… depending on what time of the year and day and night it might happen to be when they were writing or you were reading. Because it’s all about context and the moment. Of course.
I’m not entirely sure who’s going to be reading Live Through This, just as I’m not sure who’s going to be reading this, or indeed any number of books that deal with music, or times before this one. That idea of context, of moment, is interesting because although Everett has rightly felt that it’s important to record his truth about the whole matter of, (is it really Nirvana and the whole underground Rock convergence in the ‘90s, I guess in one respect it is…) Nirvana and the underground Rock convergence of the ‘90s, I can’t see that many people are really going to care. Which isn’t a criticism of Everett for writing this book, but rather the opposite, and in fact this is maybe me just feeling down and depressed about the people in the world and painting them in a poor light they don’t deserve, but… but… Why would anyone who listens to Nirvana in 2001 give a shit about the Pastels or Beat Happening or Jad Fair? Because the only thing left of Nirvana is the records, and those records are played on the whole by kids who were barely out of their cots when Kurt was alive and who now alternate their Nirvana record with their Slipknot record and their Linkin Park record. Which again, probably doesn’t even matter, but I’m fucked if I can see any of them reading a book, never mind Live Through This. Either that or they’re thirty something’s who, come to think of it, like Everett, probably haven’t played their Nirvana records for many years and feel no real desire to do so now except to maybe remember moments passed. Whichever.
So that leaves us where exactly? Everett writing a book about the life he lived through the grunge explosion he himself, more than any other, set the fuse to. Everett writing his truth about his world and about the people who populated that world; people that just happened to make Rock and Soul music, in a combination of degrees, depending on your opinions I guess. Everett writing his heart and soul out and making the most ludicrous of claims you could possibly imagine, just because he can and because he feels like it and because he, more than anyone when the flames are fanned just right, can turn those claims to poetry. (Duke Harringay)
Everett True didn’t ‘invent grunge’ but as Courtney Love’s bezza mate he was right in the eye of the hurricane that blew outta Seattle and spat out the mangled body of its greatest talent, Kurt Cobain in 1994. True’s celebration of the music that turned an industry on its head, is righteously passionate. But the darkside of this tale is the price of fame, how it will corrupt, distort and destroy despite such valiant notions as ‘taking over from the inside’. Read it and weep. (Cathi Unsworth)
MANCHESTER CITY LIFE
Dig out your flannels, kids. Veteran music writer Everett True will be talking about Live Through This: Anmerican Rock Music In The Nineties (Virgin). Melody Maker thrived during the early 90s, with a brace of great writers setting about the insurgent Riot Grrrl and grunge scenes. Among those love ‘em or hate ‘em hacks Caitlin Moran was a shrill, patience testing precocity in stripy tights; Taylor Parkes was the moody heartthrob who blew his cool big-time by inventing Romo (and destroyed my own vision of the future by dating Lauren out of Kenickie); and True (taking his moniker from an early 1900s cartoon of a portly man of constant indignation; star of a strip called The Outbursts Of Everett True) was our man in Seattle, reporting first hand from grunge central. This is not the lazy cut-and-paste cash-in that other lesser music journalists so often settle for, but an insider account of the scene. This, after all, is the man who introduced Kurt to Courtney, and if his anecdotes are sometimes a bit too bombastically hedonistic and namedropping, it’s forgivable, it doesn’t rankle. The book contains an interesting analysis of how bands were hamstrung by the anti-fame commercial aspects of the scene. There are some great pictures, and, crucially, True is also a real pitbull for savaging lame cock-rock: his invective chapter on grunge-lite is a treat. (Gwendoline Riley)
DROWNED IN SOUND
This is a book written by a man who is said to have defined the term ‘Grunge’ in the rock scene. He said it himself. *Everett True *was this man. He was a journalist for *Melody Maker *in the early Nineties and he had a seemingly unrivalled passion for the music if we are to believe this book. It is an autobiography and with all autobiographies it is painfully honest but also frequently honestly painful. Being the friend to the stars – cited as *Courtney Love’s *best friend and eventual matchmaker with *Cobain *– there is constant namedropping throughout the text. Without the namedropping this book would be nothing. But this is a book reciting his life and he did, indeed rub shoulders and get absolutely plastered with the best of them.
You really can imagine yourself in the situations he found himself in – True is a masterful storyteller. Few autobiographies are this capturing. Admittedly he has had many years to perfect his writing technique however the style is very matter-of-fact and often rather blunt. It rarely, if ever, seems as though he is showing off about his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle; in fact it often appears that he has one or two regrets about his frequently appalling behaviour. He shouldn’t. It is incredibly easy to feel increasingly jealous as go further and further through the book as his experiences really did shape his life dramatically. These days it is increasingly easy to settle down into an easy job and into a similarly easy lifestyle but Everett True really took his life to the edge. He was a journalist by name, but a True rock star by nature.
Not only is this book an autobiography but it is also a journal explaining the progression of Nineties rock in America, as the title would suggest. It is a comprehensive guide to the scene and it is almost definitely unrivalled in terms ofdetail *and *knowledge *because Everett True was there. He knows that scene and he is writing about it. If you don’t know about it but you want to then this is most certainly the book you should read. It’s a cracker. What is it? An *absolute cracker!
Due to True’s fabulous writing and the admiration that you can have so readily for the man’s exploits this book reads brilliantly. It is a thin book by no means and the chapters really are separate stories and so you are taken on so many cerebral journeys that you might actually feel a bit tired by the end of this book. With all the mentions of rock musicians and stars alike, *self-indulgent *this may be but it could be nothing else and makes for a fascinating read. (Raziq Rauf, 9/10)
Reading Live Through This is like being at a party with an egotistical boor who happens to be talking about things that interest you: he’s annoying as hell, but you’re willing to let him have the floor for a while. Jerry Thackray, aka Everett True, was the writer for Melody Maker who gave the Seattle scene its first big hype in England. He’s also known, as the reader is frequently reminded, as the man who introduced Kurt Cobain to Courtney Love. “This should be the first and last word on grunge,” intones the cover blurb. Well, it’s certainly not the first, and probably won’t be the last. It is, however, the first and last word on Everett True.
True’s pre-Seattle scene roots are with the tweepop music of K Records. He claims never to have been attracted to rock bands such as Led Zeppelin in his tender youth, being turned off by the machismo, the misogyny, or, in his opinion, the maleness in general. “Understand this,” he writes, “I’ve long felt that the only way forward for rock was to give the whole rotting carcass over to women, to do with as they willed.” Or, pushing the notion further, “Mostly only art created by women has any validity.” True appears ignorant of the reverse sexism of his beliefs—giving an entire gender an automatic musical validity by dint of their genitalia is merely the flipside of Gene Simmons’ comment that women aren’t cut out to rock—and it’s amusing to watch him get the appropriate response from bands like L7, Babes In Toyland, and the Breeders’ Kim Deal when he pitches the “how do you feel as women in rock?” question at them. He notes that L7 “rapidly got tired of sensitive fanboys wanting to make a big deal out of their womanhood and having to justify their music as a gender statement,” but nonetheless he carries on in his theoretical pursuits.
The British press is infamous for being a fickle hype machine: New Musical Express and their ilk will latch onto a particular band (current examples being the Strokes and the White Stripes) and, for a short period of time, proclaim them to be the Saviors Of Rock, the Best Band Ever, etc., only to move on to someone else with equal hyperbole when the previous acts’ fifteen minutes are up. True is cheerfully part of this machine: “Reared on a constantly changing musical culture, where the music press rightly determined that bands grow old very quickly, we were always on the look out for the thrill of the new.” Groups are either the best or the worst; True has little middle ground in his opinions, patience to watch a career develop, or tolerance for an artist who changes with time. It doesn’t help that his views are presented with an insufferable air of self-importance (“Here’s what makes me different from you: I understand the power of music”) and stale cliche (“You fly too close to the sun, you’re going to get burned”). Consistency isn’t a strong point either; at one point, he dismisses Soul Asylum as a crap band, only later to include them in a list of great rock bands from Boston (uh, Everett? They’re from Minneapolis). On one hand, he dismisses today’s teens with Nirvana t-shirts as merely grasping for a tragic icon from a past they were too young to have experienced themselves; he sneeringly allows that they might actually like the music, but wishes that they were cooler (i.e., they’re not also Half Japanese fans). On the other hand, he praises the sixties as a great era, of which he fostered an appreciation by reading old underground comix when he was a kid himself.
Live Through This is bookended by chapters on Kurt and Courtney. True spent a good deal of time with Nirvana on the road, and dishes out the anecdotes liberally in a long first section. No great revelations are to be found, but fans will be happy to read these random snapshots of the band, which are unfortunately filtered through True’s self-centered perspective. It’s annoying to wade through his endless boasts about his debaucheries (“So I was driven back to Nirvana’s temporary living quarters, a plastic bag tied on over my face to catch the vomit….”)—even more so when he seeks to impress us with them through namedropping (“[Kurt] was also full of admiration for my drinking exploits. ‘I don’t know how you do it, man,’ he laughed. ‘I would have been out for days’”). True inserts himself even more into the chapter on Courtney Love—not unjustifiably, as he played a crucial role in her rise to fame. Love is widely regarded as having exploited his crush on her, drawing him to her inner circle and then abandoning him after he’d served his purpose. True defends their relationship thusly: “She made me feel special, like I was the most special person in the world when I was with her. Fuck all you dull nine-to-fives who can’t perform that simple trick.” Uh, Everett? That’s precisely what manipulators do. If his head hadn’t been so far up Love’s ass, he might have heard the clue phone ringing.
This is not to say that True is incapable of making any worthwhile insights (such as the pithy comment, “the Jesus Lizard were always a King Crimson for the GG Allin set”). And I’ll admit that when he unleashes his vitriol on bands that I also could do without—Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam receive lengthy screeds—I found myself smiling in agreement with his dead-on observations. But putting up with True’s over-inflated ego for 294 pages is a lot to ask. If I want to read a rock critic who had love/hate relationships with his favorite musicians, lived their lifestyle, attempted to play music himself, was known to miss a show but review it anyway, and frequently made himself as much a part of his writing as his ostensible subject, I’d take the far more talented Lester Bangs any day. Too bad he didn’t stick around to Live Through This. (James Lindbloom)