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On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death comes a new perspective on one of the most compelling icons of our time
In early 1991, top music manager Danny Goldberg agreed to take on Nirvana, a critically acclaimed new band from the underground music scene in Seattle. He had no idea that the band’s leader, Kurt Cobain, would become a pop-culture icon with a legacy arguably at the level of that of John Lennon, Michael Jackson, or Elvis Presley. Danny worked with Kurt from 1990 to 1994, the most impactful period of Kurt’s life. This key time saw the stratospheric success of Nevermind, which turned Nirvana into the most successful rock band in the world and made punk and grunge household terms; Kurt’s meeting and marriage to the brilliant but mercurial Courtney Love and their relationship that became a lightning rod for critics; the birth of their daughter, Frances Bean; and, finally, Kurt’s public struggles with addiction, which ended in a devastating suicide that would alter the course of rock history. Throughout, Danny stood by Kurt’s side as manager, and close friend.
Drawing on Goldberg’s own memories of Kurt, files that previously have not been made public, and interviews with, among others, Kurt’s close family, friends, and former bandmates, Serving the Servants sheds an entirely new light on these critical years. Casting aside the common obsession with the angst and depression that seemingly drove Kurt, Serving the Servants is an exploration of his brilliance in every aspect of rock and roll, his compassion, his ambition, and the legacy he wrought—one that has lasted decades longer than his career did. Danny Goldberg explores what it is about Kurt Cobain that still resonates today, even with a generation who wasn’t alive until after Kurt’s death. In the process, he provides a portrait of an icon unlike any that has come before.
In this loving remembrance of the troubled Nirvana songwriter and frontman, the band's former manager explores Cobain's creative genius and personality. After a brief history of the underground music that inspired Cobain, Goldberg (In Search of the Lost Chord) embarks on an emotionally resonant narrative of Cobain's meteoric rise to superstardom and his attendant self-questioning depression. This insider perspective details how Nirvana's explosion onto the scene in 1991 was carefully crafted, first by the tutelage of the band members of Sonic Youth and then by Cobain himself, who Goldberg persuasively argues was astute when it came to image and business ("It often felt to me that Kurt had planned the next several moves for Nirvana with as much rigor as he had rehearsed the music"). As the narrative moves toward Cobain's 1994 suicide, Goldberg digs deeper into the singer's contradictions regarding success ("He identified deeply with outcasts... but also embraced the joy of being part of a large audience") as well as his fluctuating between sweetness and rage (he embodies "the idea that a cool guy could be snarling and powerful and also compassionate and sensitive"). This is a worthy addition to the growing canon of books on Cobain.