It’s no secret I’m a sucker for a great memoir, but I have to say Nick Soulsby’s I Found My Friends (The Oral History of Nirvana) is the first oral narrative I remember reading. It took me a little bit to get absorbed in the writing style because it’s different then a typical biography. The flow is different, as it alternates views from several interviewees. Sometimes, they’re discussing the same subject or event. Other times, their blips are interjected personal narratives of that time in their memories. The book chronicles the rise of Nirvana as a band, from their slow start playing living rooms and follows the band member changes, and their eventual success. I Found My Friends isn’t just a book about Nirvana or Kurt Cobain, though. The book is a fascinating account from musicians in a variety of alternative bands that played with Nirvana, and producers who worked with them, and friends retelling personal stories – they don’t only reflect on Nirvana, but also alternative music throughout the late 80s and through the 90s. The book details the transition from 80s hair bands, into this whole new body of music slowly gaining radio play around the country. I think this story is a nice blend of personal memories and credit given to artists all across the scene. I was also impressed how respectful the interviews were, even if they were touching on sensitive subject matter like how withdrawn Cobain was at times, or his suspected drug use – the details were shared with care and not drowning in embellishment, or focus on the negativity. It was cool to read about Sub Pop Records, the tours, the change from small town shows to huge stages. It was an emotional and inspiring read. I was listening to 94/7fm as I wrote this, and “The Man Who Sold the World” (from the special on MTV: Nirvana Unplugged) started playing, and it just makes you think about what a profound impact Nirvana had on music. Here we are, almost twenty two years later, and listeners will still feel a connection. I Found My Friends was definitely a nice change of pace for me, and the story is one I won’t soon forget.
(Photo from my inflight reading PDX —> ECP.)