Tuesday, April 14, 2015



The Book - and a tea...not punk rock at all!

Kim Gordon, from Sonic Youth! Remember them? Remember her? She has a book out!

I loved Sonic Youth in my teens. It was the 90's. The heyday of Grunge, Punk, Alternative music. Sonic Youth was one of the bands caught up in the scene...but, they were different. Some people called their sound 'noise'. Others called it 'art'. I just thought it was cool b/c it was different. I felt cool for liking something 'different'. Also, the cassettes (yes, you could still buy cassettes in the mid 90's) were cheap. Every magazine article I read on Sonic Youth made them sound even cooler - they labelled themselves 'independent', they didn't care if their music was 'commercial', a couple of the band members were married (Kim Gordan & Thruston Moore), they experimented on their guitars to make interesting noises (taking a drills to them, or looping back the distortion to create an endless feedback loop - which really just sounds like a dying squirrel). This was all perfect fodder for a rebelling teenage mind like mine.
When I started playing guitar and making my own music I pictured myself as the next Sonic Youth (even insisting on calling our band Sonic Goo). When I listen back on the stuff I recorded it is full of feedback, distortion, and 'noise'...a Sonic Youth copycat if I ever heard one.
So, almost 20 years later when I hear Kim has a memoir out I got excited. I rushed down to the library and put a copy on reserve. I was #2 on the list - they didn't even have the book in yet! That meant I had time to get out the one old Sonic Youth CD I had left and revisit the noise. Ahh, it was awesome.
The much anticipated book was awesome as well. Not for the music reminiscing, but, for all the other stuff I didn't know about! Turns out I was a very ignorant fan of Sonic Youth and Kim Gordon.
Kim starts the book recalling one of her worst days ever. A recent reunion concert of Sonic Youth. Why was it so bad? Turns out she had to perform with Thurston Moore...who is now her ex-husband! I had no idea they were divorced. I had this vision of them being the ideal rock and roll couple. They were in the same band, making music together, they bought a house in the country where they rock out all the time. Well, it turns out their marriage was not so great. It sounds like they were very disconnected and had different life goals and values. It ended when Thurston cheated on Kim. Ouch. How did I miss this story?
As I read through this book I realized I knew absolutely nothing about Kim Gordon. I didn't realize how deep into the art scene she was, or that she was even an artist for that matter. I only knew the music side of her - the punky rock chick who played a mean bass! Turns out she doesn't even consider herself a musician.
I kept turning page after page learning more and more about Kim, completely changing my impression of her. It was an addictive read.
My only criticism of the book is the writing in the middle section. This could actually be considered more of an editing problem. Around the middle of the book Kim talks about the different albums Sonic Youth released - a chapter an album. It felt a bit repetitive, and especially when the phrase, 'at that point...' kept coming up. You'd think an editor would have caught that too?
My small critique shouldn't stop you from rushing out and grabbing a copy though. Gordon's writing is honest, raw, passionate (all those buzzwords) and interesting to read. All you Sonic Youth fans that are now in your 30s and 40s now, come on, relive your youth a bit!