The story of Nirvana is one of both genius and tragedy, from the almost instant success of the band, to its rise in popularity, to the untimely death of the band’s front man, Kurt Cobain. And while most books profiling the lifespan of Nirvana focus on Cobain, author Rob Jovanovic instead decided to profile every detail of the band’s musical evolution in Nirvana: The Recording Sessions.
Written in a combination of short lists and descriptions, Jovanovic details each recording session Nirvana held, starting with amateur recordings in the homes of Cobain’s friends, to large studio and live recordings following the band’s success. With each session, Jovanovic highlights certain songs, describing the overall sound and stories of the session and what happened, as told from interviews with producers and band members.
You can tell from the book that Jovanovic had to dig deep for these recordings, as some are very rare, unreleased versions. But through his meticulous research, Jovanovic is able to paint a clear picture of what this band was all about.
The book covers ground between 1982 and 1994; along the way, Nirvana produced three studio albums, along with many single releases and live albums. Jovanovic tells the story of Nirvana through chronological descriptions of each session, with each leading up to the production of a full album. Some of Nirvana’s songs, like “Pennyroyal Tea,” made debuts early in the band’s career but weren’t fully released until later. Throughout Jovanovic’s retelling of the band’s history, he highlights the first recording of a song, and describes how each song evolved through various recordings.
After the success of Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, Cobain struggled to cope with the band’s mainstream popularity. Throughout his book, Jovanovic pulls quotes from past interviews with Cobain complaining about the popularity of Nevermind, and the pressure placed on the band afterwards to produce similar records, just to give readers an idea of why the band made some of their decisions later on in their career.
“I never wanted the fame involved,” Jovanovic quotes Cobain in the section on Nevermind. Jovanovic later details that Cobain purposely wrote songs to stray away from the poppy grunge feel of Nevermind.
Because Nirvana: The Recording Sessions tells the story of the band chronologically, Jovanovic does include the eventual downfall and suicide of Cobain. But unlike other writings about the band, Jovanovic emphasizes more on how Cobain’s death affected the band members, and how Nirvana would dissipate from the tragedy.
But even after Cobain’s death, Nirvana remained one of the most influential bands in the music industry, and is still a well-known name among music fans.
Jovanovic’s book is first for the music lover. His emphasis on the passion, creativity and originality of this revolutionary band paints an honest picture of what Nirvana was all about. This book is also a great companion for any Nirvana fan and collector. It details every recording, providing a written archive of any known version, and gives the reader a look into the short, but significant career of Nirvana.
Nirvana: The Recording Sessions on Amazon