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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: 'Here We are Now'

Here We are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain
By Charles R. Cross
March 2014
It! Books (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 9780062308214

The 90's were a time of great creativity, even if not all of us who were around then recognized it as such. Looking back though, especially through the lens of someone who knew and respected a great musician, and who now is looking at how that musician's legacy is influencing culture today, the 90's weren't half-bad.

Charles Cross was a editor of The Rocket, a Seattle magazine that chronicled current rock music. He knew and wrote about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana before they were famous, before MTV played Smells Like Teen Spirit over and over, before the band became a phenomenon and grunge, especially Nirvana, became seen as rock's latest saviors. And then Cobain, a troubled kid from a grey working class town that has fought against his fame for years, a young man who suffered from horrible physical and mental pain, killed himself.

In the years since that dreadful day when he had to confirm Cobain's death just as an issue of The Rocket was due to go to press (but not with the original planned story about Courtney Love's new Hole album), Cross has seen how Cobain and his band have become mythologized. Instead of merely saying "Me too", Cross has pointed out various ways in which Cobain has a genuine and continuing legacy. He snaps a shot of each aspect of that legacy and fills in the background with facts about what happened and how that has been built upon.

From the music itself to various cultural impacts -- including women's rights, gay rights and even fashion -- and how Seattle became the center of the music universe for a time, Here We are Now traces Cobain's impact. Cross also makes certain Cobain's physical ailments are chronicled for a more full picture of what may have been going on for that young man, as well as Cobain's upbringing in a town -- Aberdeen, Washington -- that rivals any other miserable upbringing. As a Washington state native who has lived on both sides of the Cascades, I can attest that Cross nails it.

And as someone who let the music wake her up when it was fresh and who has let in sink in for years, I can attest that Cross nails the ways in which Nirvana and its frontman continue to move us. Here we are now, Kurt, and you've enriched and entertained us.

©2014 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted with permission

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