Girl in a Band

by Kim Gordon

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“New York was in crumbling shape in late 1979 and 1980. During the day, Wall Street bustled with secretaries and other business types, but at night it turned into a post apocalyptic hell, with rats, wrappers, and cans interspersed every few feet with piles of stinking trash, thanks to what felt like a continuous garbage strike.”
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“A band almost defines the word dysfunction, except that rather than explaining motivations or discussing anything, you play music, acting out your issues via adrenaline.”
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Kim Gordon was a founding member of Sonic Youth, an alternative post- punk band that existed from the early 1980s until 2011, at which point the band and her marriage to the band co-founder Thurston Moore collapsed.
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I knew very little of Gordon’s music, but this memoir instantly grabbed me when I spotted it at my local library. She writes candidly about everything: from the break up of her marriage of 27 years, to her childhood in sunbaked California, to the devastating effect of her eldest brother’s schizophrenia on her self confidence:
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“(my brother) is one of the most singular people I’ve ever known. He was, and still is, brilliant, manipulative.. almost unbearably articulate. He’s also mentally ill. I turned into his shadow – shy, sensitive, closed to the point where to overcome my sensitivity, I had no choice but to turn fearless.”
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She writes at length of the alternative art and music scene in 1980s and 1990s New York. Fascinating vignettes, specially on the experimental art scene, and of of people she encounters like Warhol and Basquiat.
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It’s worth noting that Gordon is not just a musician, but also a visual artist, producer, fashion designer and feminist. Her memoir is self assured, fierce and very funny. She pulls no punches in her exploration of her own foibles and those of others, specially the husband that betrayed her. She also has a lot to say about the sexualisation of women in the music scene, and the different forms that has taken over the years.
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Really enjoyable book by a very strong and interesting woman.
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4⭐️
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