"You're it / No, you're it /Hey, you're really it / You're it /No I mean it, you're it /Say it
/ Don't spray it / Spirit desire / (Face me) / spirit desire (don't displace me) spirit desire / We will fall /Miss me /Don't dismiss me."
These were the first words I heard spoken by Kim Gordon. My hair stood on edge and goosebumps sprinkled my arms. It was love at first sound - who was this mysterious, sexy, punk-poet that was addressing me? After that first time listening to Teenage Riot, Sonic Youth became a staple in my heart and in my iPod. But much as I loved Sonic Youth, it was Kim Gordon I was enamored with. Her style, her deliberate stage presence, and her lyric writing. Everything she did made me think: she is a powerful woman. She was, and is,a forever icon in my personal arsenal of bad-ass-women who inspire me.
However it is with a certain vulnerability that Gordon opens Girl in a Band. It's Sonic Youth's last concert, they're performing at the SWU's Music & Arts Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, it's raining, and Thurston Moore and Gordon have since ended their relationship. Thurston is performing some, likely false, sense of male bravado on stage, and she is exhausted and barely holding it together. It's an uncomfortable situation and the reader can feel it, can imagine the tension.
But don't get the impression that the remaining 46 chapters of Girl in a Band is only about her relationship and eventual divorce with Moore - it's not, it's far from that. Her marriage appears in explicit terms at the very beginning and end of her memoir, framing a narrative that begins far before Sonic Youth and goes beyond her relationship to Moore. Girl in a Band delves into Gordon's childhood growing up in LA with her mentally ill brother, her life long practice of creating and generating art, living as a musician in NYC, touring, and being a "girl in a band." Her memoir is as much a philosophical reflection on art and making as it is a reflection of her own life and experiences.
When I contemplate why Kim Gordon started her memoir this way, coming straight out with her discomfort and hurt, I go back to those first words I heard her sing-speak: "Spirit desire / we will fall/ miss me/ don't dismiss me" and I think to myself, "that's a powerful woman."
My curated Sonic Youth playlist: it consists of their top songs across their sixteen albums. Most, but not all, are written by Gordon. Enjoy.
- I Dreamed I Dream, Sonic Youth 1982
- Shaking Hell, Confusion is Sex 1983
- Ghost Bitch, Bad Moon Rising 1985
- In the Kingdom #19, Evol 1986
- Beauty Lies in the Eye, Sister 1987
- Teenage Riot, Daydream Nation 1988
- Cool Thing, Goo 1990
- Sugar Kane, Dirty 1992
- Doctor's Orders, Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star 1994
- Little Trouble Girl, Washing Machine 1995
- Female Mechanic Now on Duty, Washing Machine 1998
- NYC Ghosts & Flowers, NYC Ghosts & Flowers 2000
- Plastic Sun, Murray Street 2002
- Paper Cup Exit, Sonic Nurse 2004
- Incinerate, Rather Ripped 2006
- Leaky Lifeboat, The Eternal 2009