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Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and EMO Paperback – November 15, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
So, it's a real testament to Greenwald's abilities as a writer that I was completely sucked in. A foreknowledge of bands like Jawbreaker or Thursday is not required, because Greenwald is going to explain them to you. He is going to tell you what the music is like and contextualize it, put it in a framework that will hip you to why these bands have so many devoted fans. Sure, you can hem and haw about the name "emo"--but the author does too. It's a term for a subculture that doesn't want to be tagged or codified, and it's a subject that is wrestled with by this book. And once we get past that, Greenwald cracks it open and unveils the positives of a movement that often gets derided, revealing why it works for the people it works for and its place in our modern age.
If there is anything to complain about when it comes to NOTHING FEELS GOOD, it's that Greenwald does his job TOO well. He made me think every one of the bands discussed was fantastic. Sadly, I sampled a lot of it, and for the most part, it failed to live up to the wonderful images Greenwald created in my head. However, his electrifying portrait of Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba was quite seductive, and I couldn't shake it. It pushed me to approach the material fresh, and now I am a fan and have sought out whatever I could find by the band.
And isn't that the sort of reaction music writing should inspire?
I'm not too familiar with Andy Greenwald, but he must be a good writer if he could convince me to give emo - and Dashboard Confessional, which until then I absolutely hated - a second chance. By the end of that summer, my friends declared that "the emo book" had sucked me in, and maybe it did. For me, Nothing Feels Good, which includes a number of interviews Greenwald has with self-styled teenage "emo kids" helped me to feel a little more comfortable with myself and introduced me to a lot of music I otherwise wouldn't have learned about. (I even sang "Hands Down" by Dashboard for a show at my school after reading the book.) Greenwald not only looks at emo, but also at the psychology behind it - the male chauvinism and competitiveness that you might not notice the first time you see a skinny white kid behind a mic singing about his ex-girlfriend - and how the mainstream has taken on the effects of emo and how emo has taken on the mainstream.
If you're just being introduced to emo - until reading the book, all I knew of emo was from the pseudo-punks that ran around the hallways of my high school - you might think Greenwald's assertion that "emo cannot be defined" is a cop-out, and that the three chapters he devotes to Chris Carrabba, lead singer of Dashboard Confessional, may be a little tedious. However, if you're at a party and a friend asks "so, what is this 'emo' I keep hearing about?Read more ›
Greenwald has a fascination with misery, as sadness is a quintessential part of the emo definition. Greenwald fleshes out the main idea of emo as punk-rock based music made as an artist's catharsis that teenagers latch onto and associate emotionally with.
To make sure the reader gets the point, Greenwald dedicates almost a third of the book to the most depressing of all emo acts, Dashboard Confessional. The nearly reverential tone that he uses in describing the de facto leader of the movement emphasizes the main point of this book: music, emotion and memories are inextricably tied together in the minds of teenagers.
Even though Greenwald does analyze the social trend of emo through case studies on bands, the best parts of the book come when he practices his bill-paying craft and enthusiastically describes the bands and labels associated with the genre. From the absurdly cocky Vagrant Records to the painfully humble Jimmy Eat World, Greenwald shows many ways that the confessional candor which embodies the emo movement can manifest itself. The various angles that Greenwald uses to approach the point keep this from being a tiresomely repetitive read.
It's when Greenwald diverges from the music side of emo that the book goes south.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm giving this book 4 stars because emo music has been a big part of my life since middle school, and this book just seems to cater to fans of the subject that want to fill some... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Justin
Amazing book. I wish 2 things: 1) that I had known about this book about 10-12 years ago and 2) that Greenwald would do a follow up on the bands he talked about/to in this book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Neil
There is always this problem I have found with books written about scenes (i.e. hardcore, punk, grunge etc) is that it either goes two ways: someone who wasn't really there,... Read morePublished 16 months ago by M. C Wright
Not a great read, but as an older punk rocker who wanted to read some of the real facts and history behind the transition from hardcore to what originally became known as emo-core,... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mark O. Waters
Andy Greenwald writes with love and knowledge. He doesn't think
every last emo record is pure outpouring--after all, it's still a marketed
product. Read more
This is one of my favorite books, but I had loaned it out previously and lost track of it. Greenwald is on point with the history, passion, and impact of emo music. Read morePublished on January 8, 2014 by walkuh
I thought I'd read this book and be all like oh Dashboard Confessional is so great and they're helping me straighten myself out. Read morePublished on November 18, 2013 by Stella Seabass
Let me sum up this book with a hypothetical.
Imagine if there was a book released in the mid-to-late 90's that promised to discuss Grunge. Read more
Well I enjoyed reading this book its basically this guy who writes for spin magazine and writes about early 90s "emo" bands. Read morePublished on September 21, 2009 by Lewis Blair