That’s Everman, not Everyman

Clay Tarver worked in a grunge-era Seattle band that brought him into contact with Nirvana and Soundgarden on their way up. He therefore crossed paths with Jason Everman, who was a member of each of these bands just before they hit it big. Everman’s musical talent, which must have been substantial, failed to compensate for a quality of moody introspection that made him undesirable in the eyes of his bandmates.

Following an unlikely career path, Everman got himself in shape and joined the Army. He made it into the Rangers and then the Special Forces, where he compiled a record that seems to have resulted in a shelf full of service awards that are now hidden away in his cabin. In the Special Forces Everman served in Afghanistan, where he helped overthrow the Taliban after 9/11. He also served under General McChyrstal, who thought sufficiently highly of his service that he wrote a recommendation for Everman’s (successful) application to attend Columbia following his Army service. Tarver reports:

In Everman’s cabin, I saw medal after medal, including the coveted Combat Infantryman Badge. “Sounds kind of Boy Scouty,” he said. “But it’s actually something cool.” I saw photos of Everman in fatigues on a warship (“an antipiracy operation in Asia”). A shot of Everman with Donald Rumsfeld. Another with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. And that’s when it hit me. Jason Everman had finally become a rock star.

At Columbia, incidentally, Everman majored in philosophy.

Who is this guy? I’d like to get to know him better, but Everman is hard to get to know, and Tarver doesn’t get us inside him as a character. Tarver does, however, bring Everman’s story to a large audience in the New York Times Magazine article “The rock ‘n’ roll casualty who became a war hero.”

Among other things, Tarver reports that Everaman’s former Nirvana and Soundgarden bandmates — the survivors, anyway — are happy for his success: “When I told his former bandmates what he’d been up to, they all seemed genuinely thrilled with what he did with his life — and surely a little relieved.”

Highly recommended.

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