For Nirvana fans, for grunge fans in general, perhaps, the sting of Kurt Cobain’s passing persists. When the lead singer of Nirvana died April 5, 1994, he attained a mythic status in part because he was 27 and joined the ranks of so many other iconic musicians who died at the same age, and because of the mysterious circumstances of his death. Since Cobain’s death, his own notebooks, several documentaries and other books have been released or published. The latest in this plethora of material is “Serving the Servant” by Danny Goldberg. The book was published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Cobain’s death in April 2019.
Danny Goldberg and Kurt Cobain
The author came to meet Cobain and the rest of Nirvana in 1991 when he took them on as clients. “Serving the Servant” contains pictures of Goldberg and Cobain in smiling poses. Goldberg’s unique perspective creates the book’s premise. His firsthand knowledge of Cobain makes for interesting reading.
Goldberg is a music manager and is the president and owner of Gold Village Entertainment, an artist management company.
According to the book’s jacket flap material, Goldberg had no idea that Cobain would turn into the cultural icon he would become. Goldberg’s approach to the band colors the premise of the book. The writer does not focus on Cobain’s angst and depression as he does the singer’s brilliance, ambition and empathy.
Readers will benefit from Goldberg’s perspective. Because of his relationship with Cobain and Nirvana, Goldberg is able to offer never-before-seen or read insights into Cobain. This is integral to those wanting to put together a picture of exactly who the singer was and why he mattered so much to a generation.
Why Kurt Cobain still matters
Nirvana (and grunge in general, really) have gained fans who were not born when Nirvana and its genre were all the rage, no pun intended. For fans of that generation that came after Gen X, works like “Serving the Servant” are important in trying to capture an era. Of course, books are not the optimal way to experience a band. But, a well-written book is often a suitable companion to videos, and thus, a person seeking to know what the band was like, the personalities of band members, the myths and other stories behind the band, would do well to both read the book, watch the documentaries, and of course, listen to the albums.
People continue to be inspired by the look, sound and ideology of grunge. Largely credited or blamed for the end of the glam metal era, grunge was a different sound that presented the ethos of punk in a slower, sludgy way. But in addition to the sound, there were the lyrical expressions that hit home with grunge’s original audience. The songs are finding new audiences seemingly every day.
“Serving the Servant” is a relatively quick read at 277 pages, not counting the acknowledgments and index. It is available at Barnes & Noble and elsewhere.