Grunge Is Dead: An Oral History of the Seattle Music Scene by Greg Prato(5 out of 5)

As usual, on a tear with the music biographies. Anyone who knows me knows I love books that are classified as “oral history”. The Saturday Night Live book is one of my favorites- the Legs McNeil book about punk is another. This book by Greg Prato is another to add to the list. About a month ago, I went through this 1990’s phase- mostly the music of Blind Melon and one Mr. Shannon Hoon. In researching if anyone ever wrote a book on this talented man and that band, I found this book listed on Amazon. Of course, I ordered it(from my bookstore, not those monopolistic online bastards) and just now finished it several days back. I was completely overwhelmed by how great and thorough the book was.

You hear Seattle- you think Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden. Oh yes, those bands are covered in the detail they deserve. However- there are many other lesser-known bands that came out of Seattle and are covered here, in amazing detail by the author, and he spoke to everyone(except Mr. Chris Cornell, who did not cooperate with the book, for whatever reason) that was anywhere remotely near that geographical location at the time of its apex. Mother Love Bone, one of my favorite bands, and the troubled and gone-too-soon Andrew Wood, is prominently featured. The Screaming Trees and the tremendously talented(and oft-underrated because many musicians and music industry professionals are fucking idiots) Mark Lanegan are featured. Tad, The Melvins, Kill Hanna, Mudhoney, they’re all here. Mr Prato got all of the corners of the Seattle music map covered. What else did he do? The deceased- Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Andrew Wood- are all treated with revearance and respect. All of the more pleasant aspects of their ascents are covered, and yes, he does go there and covers the decline as well(drugs, all of them, in some form). But there is no tabloidism involved, no screwy conspiracy theories, etc. He could easily have gone the way of previous biographies and mentioned the rumor of Kurt being murdered by Courtney(one of the participants in the discussion of Kurt’s death mentions it, but they don’t dwell upon it), but I like the fact that no matter what their weaknesses, the author does not let it take away from the most important fact- the music! I like that he got Layne Staley’s mother on record with her thoughts about Layne’s death and his success and contribution to the music scene. It is handled in a classy manner, and that’s something you can’t often claim from music biographies. The author even got the elusive Eddie Vedder to sit down for the first time ever and  discuss Pearl Jam in great detail – even the ill-fated Ticketmaster endeavor(and yes, I’m still a fan of Eddie). I learned so much about the Riot Girl(I know it’s spelled differently) movement, it makes me want to go research some other bands from that time. More importantly, it reminds me that there are so many fantastic bands out there, whose CD’s I own, that I have not played in years. It’s time to put that to an end. But first- do yourself a favor and pick up and read this book- then pass it onto those who are music lovers and will appreciate it. I guarantee they will love it.


~ by generationgbooks on November 12, 2012.

One Response to “Grunge Is Dead: An Oral History of the Seattle Music Scene by Greg Prato(5 out of 5)”

  1. Must have.

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