Girl in a Band: A Memoir
Before going into any detail I should probably come clean. Two of my idols are called Kim. Both play the bass guitar, and I love the bass guitar. As much as I love Kim Deal of Pixies and The Breeders, I really, really, really love Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. I was therefore foaming at the proverbial to get my mitts on a copy of her memoir, Girl in a Band.
The book spans Kim’s whole life more or less, from childhood days being bullied by her now-committed brother, Keller, to the reasonably recent split from husband of 30 years and co-conspirator in indie-rock legends Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore.
The striking thing about this book for me was just how fragile and sensitive Kim has been for all these years. The fact that she has spent the best part of three decades centre-stage in one of the world’s most revered noise-rock bands is surprising at first, particularly if you have been fortunate to witness Sonic Youth live. However Kim is very candid at explaining the release she gets when playing, and we learn that for her, standing in the middle of such a wonderful cacophony of noise was real escapism, and in many ways a magical and safe place to be away from the pressures of home life.
Along with the personal recall, there are namedrops aplenty – too many to mention here, but the affinity Kim had with Kurt Cobain of Nirvana certainly strikes a chord and reminds us that whatever fame does to a person, we are all human and have basic needs. There is a real human quality to this book.
As you might expect, ‘Girl in a Band’ contains plenty of Sonic Youth history too. An insight into many songs/videos/albums/lineups/gigs is included for the SY geeks like me, and many of them are truly fascinating and shed light on the inner workings of what became a legendary rock band. Kim’s side projects - Free Kitten and launching skater-chic brand X-Girl - also feature and remind us that there is way more to Kim Gordon than being Mrs. Thurston Moore and being just a girl in a band.
Overall I enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the band or alternative music of the last 30 years. RS