Episode 29: Danny Goldberg / Serving the Servant
“Serving The Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain,” an amazing read from Danny Goldberg is out today on the 25th anniversary of the passing of Kurt Cobain. The Nirvana manager from 1990-1995 had a chance to spend a few minutes talking to Finn In the book he shares his memories of his brief but momentous time with Kurt and the band, with candor, honesty and empathy.
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The book is a fresh and frank portrait of an icon unlike any that has come before. When 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 (including Courtney Love), friends, and former bandmates (including Krist Novoselic), SERVING THE SERVANT 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 SERVANT 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 also explores what it is about Kurt Cobain that still resonates today, even with a generation who wasn't alive until after Kurt's death.
ABOUT DANNY GOLDBERG
Danny Goldberg is President and Owner of Gold Village Entertainment, an artist management company; former CEO and founder of Gold Mountain Entertainment; former Chairman and CEO of both Mercury Records and Artemis Records, former CEO of Air America; and frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Huffington Post, Dissent, Billboard and many other outlets. He is the author of In Search of the Lost Chord, Bumping Into Geniuses, How the Left Lost Teen Spirit, and coeditor of It's A Free Country. He lives in Pound Ridge, New York.
PRAISE FOR SERVING THE SERVANT
"Insightful, passionate and clear-eyed, Danny Goldberg's account of his personal and professional relationship with Kurt Cobain is required reading for not only Nirvana enthusiasts, but anyone interested in how the corporate music industry engaged with the punk rock underground of the early 1990s. While providing an intimate view of the support system the band had from a world their scene was historically at odds with, Goldberg shares what is essentially the story of two men, a generation apart, who became unexpected friends through a mutual appreciation of feminism, LGBT rights, and a dedication to the activist power of music. It is a contemplative requiem to losing someone you love who immeasurably touched the entire planet with a singular magic." -Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth
"There have been many portraits of Kurt Cobain, but none as warm and clear-eyed as this one. Danny Goldberg has always been one of my favorite observer/journalist/architects of popular culture. It's no surprise that his deeply personal memoir does what Cobain's best work does. It burrows in deep and sticks around. Add this to the rich sonic legacy of Nirvana -Goldberg's soulful account of Cobain as a close friend, gone way too soon, yet vividly alive on every page of this remarkable book." -Cameron Crowe, writer/director of Almost Famous
"People always ask, 'What was Kurt really like?' That's probably not a question that any one person can answer about anybody, but anyone who knew Kurt will tell you that this book sends you vividly back to that person, in that time, at those places. Serving the Servant contributes an invaluable piece to a complicated collage." -Michael Azerrad, author of Our Band Could Be Your Life and Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana
"A clear, straightforward look into a gifted artist's struggle to balance integrity with ambition. Danny Goldberg shows us how Cobain dealt with sudden, massive acclaim while continuing to hone his unique creative vision. There has been a lot of mythologizing and deification of Cobain, but Goldberg humanizes him." -Juliana Hatfield
"As soon as I started reading I got sucked in and I couldn't put it down. As a huge Nirvana fan, it is petrifying to even attempt a description or enlightened comment about Kurt. I just want to say, any music fan should want this book. Any Nirvana fan must have this book." -Joan Jett
"As a lifelong rock fan and onetime rock journalist, Danny Goldberg treasures Kurt Cobain as an artist. As Nirvana's manager, he's intimate with the ambition and empathy that drove Cobain toward stardom. As an activist, he admires Cobain's refusal to understate his own political ideals. And as Cobain's shrewd advisor and fond friend, he misses him even more acutely than the rest of us." - Robert Christgau, author of Is It Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017
"This memoir by Danny Goldberg, Kurt Cobain's manager, friend and trusted advisor during Nirvana's bright and culture-changing burst of fame, offers fascinating details about how the band changed and was changed by the music mainstream along with unsparing views of how those around Cobain-including Goldberg himself-could not prevent his slide into drugs and despair. A deeply honest book that provides crucial insight into a brilliant life and a death that broke all of our hearts." -Ann Powers, author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music
"Amid all the darkness within and surrounding Kurt Coban, Danny Goldberg, his manager and friend, always saw the light. His portrait of Cobain is loving, intimate and three-dimensional. We feel the pain of Cobain's loss anew, palpably-as we do the indelible power of the great gift of his music" -Anthony DeCurtis, Author of Lou Reed: A Life
"Precisely rendered . . . an intimate perspective on Cobain's short life." -Kirkus Reviews
"A thoughtful and oftentimes revelatory memoir . . . Goldberg was a crucial member of the band's inner circle and, thus, offers unique insights." -Booklist
"An emotionally resonant narrative of Cobain's meteoric rise to superstardom and his attendant self-questioning depression . . . a worthy addition to the growing canon of books on Cobain." -Publishers Weekly