Girl In A Band: A Memoir

Book review: Girl in a Band: A Memoir

Girl in a Band: A MemoirGirl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title of Kim Gordon’s autobiography is a neat reduction of how she’s been interpreted by media outlets and observers for years: the girl in the most apparently sausagefesty of bands, the fringe-and-pedals, truculent beast that was Sonic Youth. It is, naturally, reductive, a fiction pushed by those who’d copy to file, or those whose musical penates was the Kim and Thurston power couple.

The quote on the back of the book – pulled from its instant-in first chapter – best describes the artist’s feelings of being observed, categorised.

Onstage, people have told me, I’m opaque or mysterious or enigmatic or even cold. But more than any of those things, I’m extremely shy and sensitive, as if I can feel all the emotions swirling around a room. And believe me when I say that once you push past my persona, there aren’t any defenses there at all.

Of course, I’m guilty of this reduction. I like to defend this with the acknowledgement that Sonic Youth are a band I seem to ‘get’ more now that I’m older: I had some albums when I was growing up, but I always seemed to miss something, that there was a big secret that I couldn’t understand, an enjoyment others had that I couldn’t grasp. I couldn’t get a read on Gordon: she seemed like she took no shit, from my limited pre-internet knowledge, and that probably frightened me, as teenage-terrible as I was parsing women. (more…)