Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana

ISBN: 0863697461
ISBN 13: 9780863697463
By: Michael Azerrad

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Reader's Thoughts


this book makes u feel like ur there in the nirvana scene as it happened, mostly cause Kurt was ambitious and never gave up, til the end of course, unfortunately.


Corn on the cops! Corn on the cops!

Kelly Ferguson

This book doesn't get five stars because it's Nabokov or anything, but as a solid profile on a band that defined a generation, Azerrad nails it. I read this book when it came out, and then recently again because I'm a ex-grunge drummer writing an essay on the subject. What I took away way back then was a fair view of Cobain as a person, versus the media maelstrom. Azerrad also projects a thesis that while band might be good or even great, it only becomes a phenomena if it has a scene—and hits the zeitgeist nerve of the times. Now I'm no longer in the thrall of rock stardom. But it was fun to go back in time, back when this band mattered to a bunch of us.

Craig Willis

Fascinating read that focuses on the band and not just Kurt like a lot of Nirvana biographies seem to do. If you were to read one book on Nirvana / Kurt Cobain, I would recommend this be your choice.

Grig O'

Says Kurt in this book: "No one has any right to know anything about my personal life. If they want to know about the music and how I try to write it, then that's fine" - well, guess how much that applies to this book. I imagine most Nirvana books are much worse.Azerrad is a fine rock writer and this is a good enough read if you just skip the bullshit parts. I wasn't expecting this to be as mindblowing as Our Band Could Be Your Life, and it's not.

Damon Lively

Being a big Nirvana fan growing up – this was the first and only (admittedly) bio I read on the band. I have interest to attempt another book – but I just can’t imagine getting that much more insight on the group. The only arguable hole – is the lack of large analysis on the suicide and post band circumstances (historical impact, careers of members, etc.) – since the book was originally written prior to Kurt’s death. There is just a simple last chapter bridged into later copies that lightly touches on the events. With that said – I was more interested in the dynamics of the band and their success, struggles, etc. As opposed to some lengthy breakdown of his death (therefore I liked this book). I felt it was a good view into everything and didn’t pull any punches. There was more candid insight into Kurt’s drug habits and behaviors and I sort of senses tensions between members that often are muddled historically. Mainly that being attributed to Kurt and his often erratic characteristics. Sure – there might be some “rooting” for Kurt or the band gleaned from the writing (but who of us true fans wasn’t desiring a more positive and long term outcome?). As you read – it becomes apparent (even in the moment) the band was not going to survive over a long period - and certainly – Kurt had issues and demons that were troubling to his own existence. I think being this was researched and written “at the time” of the band’s height – makes it a valuable read.

Carol Storm

This is a detailed history of NIRVANA written by someone who's obviously a part of the scene and knows the whole background of where the band came from and what they were trying to accomplish. The problem, as other reviewers have pointed out, is that this author, Michael Azerrad, is very clearly on Kurt Cobain's team, rooting for him and covering for him no matter what the facts on the ground actually look like. This book was written before Cobain died and yet it's clear that everyone knew his story was going to have only one ending. Azerrad's great failure is that he never comes to terms with Kurt's sickness, and indeed takes all of his junkie rationalizations at face value. Stomach pain, indeed!

Lisamarie Skelton

Bought it for my son. After he read it I snuck it into my room and read it. I read this book in 2 days. And I have many children. I just didn't sleep.

Bryan Winchell

20 years ago, the world lost an iconic artist in Kurt Cobain. I had discovered Nirvana in mid-September 1991, as a freshman in college in Los Angeles. I can still remember returning to my dorm on a hot afternoon and putting "Nevermind" on my headphones. I'd already heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and loved it, so knew I'd at least like that track. But then the album unfolded, one great song after another and I became my freshman dorm's Nirvana disciple, and by December of that year, it seemed as though everyone my age had been converted.So when people talk about this band as our generation's Beatles, I don't think it's overstated. Music up until "Nevermind" had been pretty stale and most of it had seemed to be about things that weren't real for those of us who weren't rock stars. All of the sudden, that landscape changed.However, the problem, as is documented pretty well in this book, is that Cobain and his bandmates were always rather ambivalent about their success. On one hand, they wanted to be rock musicians, people who could make a living at it. But they never wanted to be the voice of a generation.This book has a lot of great interviews, especially with Cobain, who was always very candid. In fact, the author near the end says he often told Kurt to be less candid, to say more stuff off the record. Reading that quote, I realized that one of Cobain's biggest flaws was that he had no media savvy. Perhaps this is to be expected of a reject "nerd" from a backwoods town like Aberdeen, Washington. But it came back to haunt him. Sadly, as Nevermind became a huge success, it seems as if Cobain never really enjoyed it.About the only flaw in this book was that I felt it ended rather abruptly (though the author explains why this is). Also, it was mostly written in the 1990s, so 90 percent of it is written as though Cobain is still alive. Thus, it has no sense of what the band would become---a lasting influence to modern bands and still a band that people listen to and care about. It's funny--Cobain is actually quoted as saying that in 20 years, no one would care about Nirvana, that'd they'd be forgotten. Of course he was wrong, as he was about many things. On the other hand, he got a lot right---from his sense of a good tune to his unique voice that may have been caused by the very stomach pains that caused him to seek relief through heroin (or at least, that's the story he tells. I tend to think that played a role in it, but he also enjoyed other results the drug gave him).For those interested in this band and its leader, I'd definitely recommend this book.


The definitive bio because Cobain actually liked Azerrad; most of this book came from hours of interviews they did over a number of sessions. The audio recordings of those talks has been coupled with video footage of his hometown, etc. in the new documentary film, "About a Son."

Kristopher Jansma

I read these two Kurt Cobain biographies as part of some research for my new novel, which I wanted to have some tangential connections to Nirvana and Cobain. I read both books along with completely-legally-paying-for (read downloading) all of Nirvana's B-Sides and Rarities and Home-recordings, etc. Actually both the books were quite interesting for very different reasons. Azerrad wrote his book while Cobain was still alive, and so only the epilogue (added later) even addresses his suicide. Cross, on the other hand, wrote his book about 10 years later, so the coming suicide of Cobain really colors almost every chapter in the book. The first book seems completely surprised (as most of the fans were at the time) by Kurt's suicide - despite interviews where Kurt told Azerrad about his destructive drug addictions and so on. The second book seems from the first page to try and unravel the mystery of why he would later kill himself. Cross's book is great to read - in places he brings Kurt to life (no pun intended) almost like a fictional character in a novel - and is greatly aided by unprecedented access to Kurt's old journals and artworks, which Courtney Love has kept in storage all this time. Internet rumors abound that Cross's book will soon be made into a biopic, starring James McAvoy... still not sure how I feel about this, but I imagine there'll be much outrage to come as that goes forward.


I read this for a paper I was writing on Nevermind. I've always been a Nirvana fan, but never overly so. I do dig Michael Azerrad and just the social aspect of bands, the bands that influenced them and how they developed and whatever. While Azerrad was clearly infatuated with Cobain, he never got fully worshippy the way a lot of journalists (read: Fanboys) did. I had to read a LOT about Cobain. A cooler read by Azerrad: Our Band Could be Your Life. Check it out if you're into the indie scene from the 90s

Richard Kelly

This was a great book. One of the first non-fictions I ever tried to read over a subject I was obsessed with at the time so there was little doubt that it would be a great read for me at the time. But the notes from the author about who Kurt was to him were by far the most interesting pieces of this book.


What a shame. I was really keen to read this, but I'm afraid the appalling writing has just defeated me. I only made it about 1/6 of the way through, and had only really read about Kurt's childhood. The author seemed to have some good points about the state of music in the early 90s, and had obviously interviewed the band-members and family extensively, so my problem was not one of content. My problem was the disjointed, incoherent, quote-heavy writing. Perhaps some vicious editing would have been this book's saving grace. I will need to seek my Nirvana knowledge elsewhere.

Caitlin Constantine

I'll confess - I was not the biggest Nirvana fan back in the day. I was more of a Pearl Jam/Green Day girl. I mean, I liked Nirvana, but it was "Ten" that I played on repeat, and it was "Kerplunk!" that I haunted CD stores in search of. Nirvana was good, but I wasn't into them the way some people were. I certainly did not cry when Kurt Cobain killed himself.But it seems like most people, when they get to be about my age, start to be hit with some serious nostalgia for their earlier days. Whether it's panic over growing older or fondness for adolescence, I can't say. All I know is that I'm all about the 90s nostalgia right now, much like a lot of other people in their early 30s.So with this in mind, I read this biography of Nirvana, and I ended up really enjoying it. I was so used to the whole cult of St. Kurt that was constructed after he killed himself that it was interesting to get a glimpse of what the actual guy was like, to see that he was kind of an arrogant dick (which is what I would expect from a rock star in his 20s who is also a drug addict) who was obsessed with subcultural purity, but to also see that he was really thoughtful and smart underneath the crust of dirty hair and junkie sweat. The author had his obvious biases in favor of Nirvana, which is understandable, as he ended up becoming friends with the band, and not everyone is capable of savaging their friends in print. But even so, he didn't really shy away from showing Cobain (and also Chris Novoselic, Courtney Love, Dave Grohl, and all of the other drummers) as complex, flawed, creative people.The other interesting thing is the way the book gave context to a lot of what was going on around the Seattle music scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cultural moments don't just arise spontaneously; they are always accompanied by shifts in society and in politics and in economics. It seems as though most of the more vital forms of music had their roots in wider social struggles. The music doesn't even have to be overtly political for this to be true. A worthwhile read for anyone who loves biographies, rock music or the 1990s.

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