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Heavier than Heaven

A Biography of Kurt Cobain
Written by: Charles R. Cross
Narrated by: Lloyd James
Length: 14 hrs and 50 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Kurt Cobain died by his own hand in April 1994, it was an act of will that typified his short, angry, inspired life. Veteran music journalist Charles R. Cross fuses his intimate knowledge of the Seattle music scene with his deep compassion for his subject in this extraordinary story of artistic brilliance and the pain that extinguished it.

Based on more than 400 interviews, four years of research, and exclusive access to Cobain's unpublished diaries, lyrics, and family photos, Heavier than Heaven traces Cobain's life from his early days in a double-wide trailer outside of Aberdeen, Washington, to his rise to fame, success, and the adulation of a generation.

©2001 Charles R. Cross (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the critics say

"Definitive...Cross untangles the soul of a man." ( USA Today)
" Heavier than Heaven sets a high, new standard." ( Rolling Stone)
"One of the most moving and revealing books ever written about a rock star." ( Los Angeles Times)

What listeners say about Heavier than Heaven

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful story, told by a real fan

I could not put this book down. Charles R. Cross clearly worked diligently to research and learn as much as possible from family and friends. The story was well told from the perspective of someone who obviously loved Nirvana and Kurt Cobain deeply. Cross is sensitive and respectful in his telling of Cobain's life and the book was a joy to read. I continue to return to moments from this book daily, and am thankful to have picked it up. Lloyd James was a well suited choice for the reading of this biography. He was unobtrusive and allowed me to fully focus on the story. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him speak!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • 2007-02-15

Great story - missing chapter 12

This is an amazing story of an improbable truth. A down and out loser from a small town announces as a youth that he will grow up to be a rock star and kill himself - and he actually succeeds against all probability.

The story is marred however by the fact that the recording is missing chapter 12. This is clearly an error on audibles part. I've tried to contact them on the issue. I hope they fix it.

43 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Suzy
  • 2018-08-18

Take it with a grain of salt!

While this lends some insight into who Kurt was under the surface, keep in mind that Courtney Love was the one who chose what Cross had access to, and Courtney and Frances had the final say in what would or would not appear in the book and film. As a result, this is a one-sided version of Kurt's story. It's more grunge rock mythology or tragic fairytale than anything else. Overall, 'Heavier than Heaven' is well written and holds my interest, I just don't think I'm getting the whole truth.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mitzi
  • 2009-05-05

Kurt the Person

Not having been a fan of Kurt Cobain or Nirvana
for that matter, my appeal to this biography was to answer my question. What drives us as human beings to the place of suicide?
With that said, I came out of this story with the depths of my soul being forever touched by a man I only read about. Such a human side to this very misguided genuis.
The book is filled with more foul language than I normally will give place to, but I wasn't reading Mary Poppins. Oh, you may need a barf bag @ times due to the graphic story line.
However, it never takes away from Kurt. The human, tender side that is there. You just have to look for it, you have to want to see it. But he is there.
Just like all little boys he needed nourturing, protection, he needed to know he was o.k.
Kurt, love ya man. You the person, not all the rock n roll drama. But you were a shining star even without a guitar.

26 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • TYLER
  • 2018-01-26

Meh

Struggled to finish, sounds like Courtney love had something to do with this book, it makes her look like a Saint

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Melissa
  • 2009-11-13

Couldnt stop listening

You already know how this ends but how he got there is a story worth listening to. A manic depressive addict who goes untreated for most of his life. You can feel his pain and those around him. The extreme depth of his pain physical and emotional is felt through the telling of this story. Loved every minute of it.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JOHN H. RUSSELL III
  • 2009-01-01

SPLENDID

This is one of the first audios I really enjoyed next to the Miles Davis Story. Lots of detail. A great look at how all of us do struggle in one way or another. Cobain such a talent.
Such a short life. Looking for more like these.

5 people found this helpful

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  • N. Land
  • 2015-06-28

Incredibly candid and detail oriented

I've read and watched much material on the short life of the great Kurt Cobain, but this book is far and away the most detailed account of Kurt's life, from happy child, to his eventual tragic end. I recall watching a documentary in the 90s in which a PI stated there is no way Cobain could have had the eye-hand coordination skills to operate a shotgun with his toe after injected so much heroine. I too have long suffered of a chronic pain condition, and from personal experience I have found it impossible at times to log into my computer, failing to properly type the password correctly after ingesting far less opioids than it sounds like Kurt ever did. I still find this fact to be extremely troubling, however, I no longer believe Courtney capable of foul play in the matter. Kurt was just too sad and wanted to leave this world so badly that he found out how to do it, and in a way few could probably actually pull off. Of well... I'm saddened to think about the constant pain he had to deal with, and can't fault him for his decision. RIP Kurt Cobain. The world will never forget you.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bob Watson
  • 2012-10-20

Wow captivating book!

What did you love best about Heavier than Heaven?

I loved the authors approach. It seemed even more accurate than an autobiography. I loved,loved,loved it.

What other book might you compare Heavier than Heaven to and why?

Nothing compares!

Which character – as performed by Lloyd James – was your favorite?

Kurt Cobain

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both

Any additional comments?

I grew up with Nirvana so I was captivated from the beginning to the end.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Nathan
  • 2018-09-16

Terrible reader

Couldn't get very far, story was very boring and reader was the worst. Wish I could return it.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • tru britty
  • 2015-08-01

Don't be afraid of this book

From a couple of the reviews, I thought Heavier than Heaven would be such a downer I'd have to lock the knife drawer. But it turns out there's more to Kurt Cobain than depression, heroin and a young death.

What made this book click for me from the get go was Cross's depiction of Aberdeen, WA, the lumber mill town that was Cobain's Liverpool and Hibbing. A blue collar backwater he needed to escape, but which haunted his memories.

What also makes this book a good listen is the depiction of the Northwest music scene of the '80s and '90s. It had its own look, influences and sound, which erupted in the early '90s when Grunge was the THING on college campuses.

We get to follow Cobain through his parents' divorce and that episode's lasting effect on his psyche, his misfit youth and his dual passion for drawing and music. Music won out, and with Krist Novaselic he co-founded Nirvana, which like the Beatles decades before had a helluva time finding a drummer. Ringo stuck for the Beatles. Dave Grohl stuck for Nirvana.

Courtney Love comes off much better in this book than she did in the press of the 1990s, when she was likened to Sid Vicious's caterwauling girlfriend Nancy Spungen. The comparison was inevitable. She had the dazed, smeared-makeup look of Spungen--and the howling presence. But Love had wit and heart, but was doomed when her addiction problems met Cobain's addiction problems.

Nirvana's rise to superstardom takes place as suddenly in the book as it probably did in real life. Yeah, dues were paid, but when "Teen Spirit" hit, Cobain's face and quotable quotes and attitude were everywhere.

He also had that stomach issue, which he used as a rationalization for his heroin use. (I had to Google to find out what the issue was. Lots of hits with physicians saying it was this or that, or that anyway it could've been treated with diet and meds today.)

The downward spiral was always twisting in Cobain's life. But fame and other things ramped it up. This part of the story didn't turn me off as much as I thought it would, because there was always something else going on to take off the edge and because the author seems to like Cobain and makes him an interesting, sympathetic figure.

What I wanted more of was more on the music--how it was made, all that--and the band. Novaselic and Grohl are there but they're background players in the bigger story of Cobain's dramatic descent, which ended with his suicide (and yes, there are OTHER theories) in 1994.

2 people found this helpful