Staying ‘Umble: I Found My Friends Gets a Cheery Kicking in Pitchfork!

Posted: April 7, 2015 in I Found My Friends: the Oral History of Nirvana

http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/725-the-latest-nirvana-oral-history-is-more-mythmaking/ Rather chuffed to get a mention in Pitchfork – and the critic clearly can’t stand me! Heh! Made me chuckle. He’s got it right though, the reason I wrote the book was to put other people’s voices first rather than my own so wanting more of them and less of me seems pretty reasonable. I’d have to say my desire was to get away from the same ol’ superstar voices ad infinitum, ultimately if one wants to know Krist Novoselic’s view on Cobain and Nirvana then there are several hundred interviews over the past twenty years providing that… It does put me in mind of the difficulty of wearing several hats. Am I a writer preparing a book on Nirvana? Am I a fan and hobbyist doing something because it amuses me? If the former, then the obsessiveness and the personal journey kinda stuff is irrelevant and distracting. If the latter, then why should a critic take it anymore seriously than any other garage project…? Being fair, to professional journalists and writers trying to make a living in an ever more difficult space, squeezed by the ever declining quantity of space provided to ‘culture’ in the mainstream media, working long years learning the theory and practice of their trade, it must be fairly galling having some amateur pop up and take a shot. I can imagine if I was busy pursuing my professional skills I’d look askance at someone popping up and trying to do it as a part-time activity… Criticism isn’t a bad thing – ultimately its fairly un-actionable, that’s the intriguing part. I’ll not be going back and re-writing the book to fit a critic’s views. All one can do is see if there’s a lesson or two, some ongoing reading or research to be done. But, like most things, one must close a lot of it off – both praise and criticism – and just do whatcha gon’ do. I saw someone the other week state “I wouldn’t be surprised if Courtney paid him to write this – same old myths about how Kurt was at the end,” while in the Pitchfork review the guy claims the book heaps abuse on her. Sheesh, I thought I’d minimised her presence because I was bored of her being such a strong part of Nirvana’s story…And I thought I’d decided not to use a lot of the unpleasant stories people told of her for that same reason. People are uncomfortable not just with multiple hats but with multiplied responses also. On the one hand, I think there’s something to be taken from the criticism, things I didn’t do, things I could do, things I’ll maybe use on the blog at some point. On the other hand, sure, there are aspects and elements I discount and believe are wrong and disbelieve. That’s life; you can’t be everyone’s friend all the time and you can’t be so open to their thoughts and feelings that one forgets ones own. So! Pitchfork did me a true honour by commenting on the book on their site – I mean, wow, I read Pitchfork every morning, it’s part of my daily routine. So to be mentioned there, for me, is a real pleasure. And the positives were nice to read also – the things that I wanted to do and that he says I did (even if he doesn’t like them!) 🙂 The crucial thing, for me, the reason I think it’s sound criticism, is that he commences with the key question; is a new book on Nirvana important? Does it add anything different thus validating the effort and energy? In this case, though he acknowledges what I did was a valid idea, he doesn’t like the execution and result – that’s an entirely reasonable position to take and I certainly would feel a heel chuntering about that.

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