“There’s a sadness in armchair quarterbacking a life that has already been lost”- Charles R. Cross
Charles R. Cross’s “Here We Are Now” is a new book about the lasting impact of Kurt Cobain. At 181 pages its not at all a comprehensive look at the band or the man, nor does it pretend to be. This is completely due to the fact that Cross already achieved the gold medal standard in that department with his previous Cobain autobiography “Heavier Than Heaven” which is rightfully considered the definitive text on the Seattle/Aberdeen, Washington icon.
With “Here we are now” Cross examines the post-Nirvana years from a few different perspectives, all of them pretty compelling. Was Nirvana really “grunge” anyway? Over the 100 or so songs Cobain wrote only a handful would probably be representative of the pseudo-genre. How did the band influence later generations of bands (many or most of whom would probably make Cobain cringe)? How did Kurt’s seemingly complete disregard for appearance become high fashion? When Cross argues that “grunge” essentially became a longer lasting fashion subgenre than a musical category he is dead on. Cross’s position as a writer for the Seattle music magazine “The Rocket” during the scene’s golden era gives the text a “you-are-there” level of immersion that is easy to get lost in and only adds to making this book a quick read.
Some of the most interesting little tidbits come courtesy of Cross’s interview encounters with major players in the storyline ( like Courtney Love and Krist Novoselic) but there is just as muchinteresting commentary on the band and its music via observational essays from Cross (such as the Nevermind/In Utero debate or the discussion on hip-hop’s identification with Cobain’s music). There is a GREAT chapter on the significance of Kurts Aberdeen roots and his relationship with the Seattle scene he is so identified with (who knew Kurt was a Metal Church fan?) as well as a surprising chapter on how Kurts death affected the suicide rate. Personally, I was taken aback by all the interesting little quirks Cross has uncovered about Kurt’s day to day life, for instance, the fact that Cobain’s finances were so dire that he returned to his apartment after recording “Nevermind” to find an eviction notice and all of his shit in boxes.
Cross said that his aim was to examine why Cobain still matters and one could surmise that the real reason is ultimately found in the last chapter which takes a large scale look at Kurt’s status as the last real rock star of the old Soundscan/MTV generation. While this is no doubt accurate, it is still sort of depressing on multiple levels. Cross also admits that for the vast majority of Cobain related questions there are still no easy or definitive answers, certainly not answers that will satisfy the masses. While the compact size and fast pace of “Here We Are Now” may make it a little pricey for you at its cover price of 22.99 it is a steal currently on Amazon for 13.36 and is a nice compliment to “Heavier Than Heaven”. Recommended.
Order “Here We Are Now” online at Amazon here