Commentary 4: Four Hours In Washington

Going back in time to save Kurt Cobain was one of the first inspirations I had while brainstorming. This chapter sends the narrator to Seattle with this goal in mind, while the underlying narrative purpose is really to flesh out his musical background and further along his time travel discovery process. It’s a sort of “on the job training” for his eventual mission.

Other tidbits:

  • Four Hours in Washington ends up being a fairly self explanatory chapter title.
  • Nate Pepper once pointed out that everything I write always has at least one scene in a car. The trend continues here. (Though I guess a car scene technically first appeared in the previous chapter…)
  • The mileage was straight out of Mapquest at the time this chapter was originally written, but they seem to have tweaked their algorithm since then as it now lists the distance as about 6.5 miles closer.
  • Another hint that the narrator and the author are not the same person: I’d never use Mapquest in a million years since it’s by far the worst of the mapping sites. 2002 predates Google Maps, but even back then I was using a combo of MapBlast (RIP) and Yahoo Maps.
  • The narrator oversimplifies it a bit, but the conspiracy theory stuff is mostly real and based on the work of investigator Tom Grant who runs He was originally hired by Courtney Love to find Kurt when he went “missing” before his death.
  • Local Boy’s charm with the ladies is first foreshadowed here, though originally it came in the lost chapter at the 1946 World Series in the deleted scenes.
  • The Dylan concert scene is part of a rewrite, having originally been a much shorter scene at a minor league baseball game.
  • While working on this part of the rewrite, my then girlfriend/now wife was driving through Eugene on her way to LA. I made her go to McArthur Court to scout it out and take pictures, and we had a hilarious phone conversation where I kept asking her “Is is flat? I mean, if you could walk through things, could you go there without being too far above or below the ground?” I later considered scrapping the whole Seattle trip from the book to cut to the chase, but she wouldn’t let me after what I put her through.
  • For some reason, everyone loves the “need to have balls” line.
  • Both Dylan concerts are real, and the 1999 EMU Ballroom show allegedly was just as legendary as described. Several reviews are available here, plus the setlist. Even stranger: I met a guy through a friend a few years ago (after this scene was written) who actually did the sound for this exact show and recorded a bootleg. Small world…
  • All of the newspaper events from early April actually happened, and I really wrote the whole scene without realizing that the newspaper always tells yesterday’s news.
  • And yes, that April Fools Day show was brilliant. Jon Mack insisted that G. Love and Soul Coughing also played at the same show and had me so convinced they were listed in earlier drafts, but eventually I did the research and proved him wrong. Discovered the price of the show is also inaccurate, but left it in anyways as a nod to fallible memories.
  • There are 41 intentional musical references in this chapter.

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