Title: Teen Spirit: The Stories Behind Every Nirvana Song
Author: Chuck Crisafulli
My Rating: ★★★1/2
Summary: “Teen Spirit tells the story behind every track on the band’s albums. Why did Kurt Cobain feel moved to write “Polly”? What is Teen Spirit? Who is Floyd the Barber? The book follows Nirvana from its earliest beginnings to rock superstardom, pinpointing the genesis of each of the band’s original songs, and exploring the sources from which they chose to cover songs that punctuated their records. This is the story of the most important band in what will surely stand as one of the most important times in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.”
I just want to start this review by noting the irony in this book just existing, as it is exactly what Kurt Cobain didn’t like: people dissecting his lyrics and music. (As you can see below…)
Now to be fair, the book does tend to mostly tell the stories behind the songs, but it does also look into what songs mean, which is the part he didn’t love. Regardless, it’s a pretty good book. Which is what I am here to discuss.
I really liked the pictures used in Teen Spirit a lot. There were many good shots of Nirvana performing, as well as from photoshoots. There are also pictures of The Vaselines and the Meat Puppets, (as well as some other bands), to show the bands Nirvana covered and appreciated.
One thing I will say is that Teen Spirit is not an incredibly in-depth look at Nirvana’s discography. Many of the stories told in the book are well known or at least not unknown. It does put all of these stories in one place for each song, but I think many people who are big Nirvana fans (like myself) will have already heard some of the stories previously.
Overall, it was a good look at Nirvana’s incredible ability to create great music and why it was created. It told their story, but mostly just musically, which is a bit refreshing given most Nirvana books focus on Kurt Cobain and his death. It is a good book for anyone who wants to learn more about Nirvana and how they created their music.
For this playlist, I based the song choices off of stories from Teen Spirit that I found to be especially interesting. (Which means, of course, this playlist consists of only Nirvana songs or covers they did). Additionally, I included performances for each song!
- Floyd the Barber
- Hairspray Queen
- Territorial Pissings
- Mr. Mustache
- Scentless Apprentice
- Paper Cuts
- Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
- Where Did You Sleep Last Night
You can hear the full playlist here.