Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana

ISBN: 0863697461
ISBN 13: 9780863697463
By: Michael Azerrad

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Reader's Thoughts

Matt L

Ahhh Nirvana... One of my personal favorite bands of all time. They had so many memorable songs for me Smell's Like Teen Spirt being the most memorabele. Then I found "Come As You Are: The story of Nirvana" by Michael Azerrad on my Local book store. It's a good book for people who don't know of how successful Nirvana was during the early 90's. Azerrad interviews Kurt Cobain Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl (the members of the band) and has a fantastic final chapter about the last year of Kurt Cobain's life. Overall I would give it a 7 out of 10 (4 our of 5) It was great but could've been better but its a great book for anyone looking to be a historian of music and perticually in the genre of rock


I was never a huge Nirvana fan when I was growing up, so maybe that helps explain why this book didn't do much for me. Azerrad has tons of quotes from Cobain and the rest of the band members, as well as Courtney Love. He obviously had incredible access to the performers. But I also wonder if maybe that access didn't lead him to be too close to his material. There is a definate undercurrent of hero worship in this book, and Azerrad sometimes is defensive on behalf of the band and seems reluctant to make critical points. In addition, I was surprised to learn that Nirvana thinks of themselves as part of the punk tradition, since their music never seemed very punk to me, yet the author and Cobain return to this over and over. Where I grew up, it was the stoners, not the punks, that wore Nirvana t-shirts.I also came to wonder if maybe Azerrad had originally penned some of the chapters as essays to be separately published, because there is an awful lot of repetition throughout. And, of course, most of the book was written before Cobain's suicide. The last chapter is tacked on to the end of the book, though it is surprisingly the best chapter--maybe because it finally gave Azerrad some breathing space to see his subject more clearly.


Corn on the cops! Corn on the cops!


This was a decent book, mostly from Kurt's point of view which really depended on his mood and what he wanted people to think that day. I'd recommend reading this one and the one by Charles Cross to get a rounded point of view.


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."

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.

Lori Michael

I never was a fan of Nirvana at their peak or hay-day as some might think. No, the alternative I liked/preferred then was Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Live, Jane's Addiction, and NIN, but Nirvana was a band I grew to appreciate, particularly after reading this book. Not exactly a Pearl Jam fan, or a huge alternative fan in general anymore, but with after reading this book I even can understand where Courtney Love, even though she gets a bad-rep or labeled horribly by others, but can you blame her in some way? Especially with the in-depth details this book unfolds about what some members of the press did to her. Not exactly sure if it was still a good idea for her to publish Kurt's diary, but if he left those assets to her, then she has every right to do so. I highly recommend this book whether you are a die-hard fan or want to appreciate who they are as artists.

Petra H.

My heart used to beat with the rhythm of this book. I have this paperback copy which no longer has the cover pages. It has deteriorated along with my teenage angst. However, I still remember being fourteen, dreaming about having a guitar, screaming the lyrics and my frustration with the world and reading this book.Frankly, I do not give a damn if it has especially good writing, probably not. There is something about it. Soul. Maybe. And you can tell the guy who wrote it, actually cared about those people. Also you can see, that he refused to accept the obvious truth, that the main character was screwed up. There is something honest about it.And what I also appreciate is, that it guides you through a whole pack of bands and styles somewhere in galaxy far away (well Seattle is pretty far). Years afterwards, I have my guitar. Also no talent at all. I still feel inspired by the book and I will have it on my shelf until it inevitably crumbles into its own yellowy paper universe.

Gina P

This book was good but I may be a little burned out on Nirvana lore at this point. A lot of it overlapped with "Heavier Than Heaven", which I felt was a book rooted in more fact that some of the fictional tales Kurt fed Michael Azerrad. Still, lots of good nuggets in here for the Nirvana loyalist. I enjoyed it but need to take a break from Nirvana books lest I start perceiving Kurt as kind of a jerk, which I really, really don't want to do.


The bulk of the book captures something that could have never been discussed the same way after April 1994.

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.

Connor Martin

If your going to read a music bio of nirvana, this is it. it goes through the life's of all the band members, including the temporary ones. it has a very thorough way of explaining their lives without getting stuck on mundane and useless things. it reads quite easily and teaches some really interesting things that i had no idea about. it was written before Kurt Cobain killed himself, and it is based on hours upon hours of interviews and conversations the author had with nirvana while he was tagging along on tour with the band. it sifts through all the rumors and myths, it tells the true story from the mind of the band members. It is a really amazing story. inspiring to say the least. if your a fan of nirvana or a musician or an artist, this is a book you should read.


Das Buch bietet einen guten Überblick über Kurt Cobains Leben und die Entstehung und den Aufstieg von Nirvana. Auch über die anderen beiden Bandmitglieder ist einiges zu erfahren.Mir gefällt, dass das Buch die Geschichte um Kurt und Nirvana nicht nur beschönigt, sondern auch einige Widersprüche rund um die Band und in Kurts Aussagen aufgreift. Natürlich ist es manchmal auch nötig, ein bisschen zwischen den Zeilen zu lesen.Obwohl es sehr informativ ist, ist es stellenweise doch ziemlich langatmig und weniger interessant. Ausserdem ist es sehr verworren übersetzt und enthält eine Menge Rechtschreib- und Grammatikfehler.Trotzdem empfehle ich es allen Nirvana-, Kurt Cobain- und Grunge-Fans und vor allem jedem, der sich für den Zustand der Musikindustrie der frühen 1990er Jahre interessiert.

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.

Letitia Webb

The definitive story of Nirvana and the lives of the individual band members. Written by a friend of Cobain and the band, it is written from the perspective of someone thatv was there. Informing, entertaining and tragic. Must read for any Nirvana fan.

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