Tag Archives: memoir

Holiday Stocking Stuffer: ‘Testimony’: A Memoir by Robbie Robertson


Robbie Robertson’s singular contributions to popular music have made him one of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of his time. With songs like “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” he and his partners in The Band fashioned music that has endured for decades, influencing countless musicians.

In this captivating memoir, written over five years of reflection, Robbie Robertson employs his unique storyteller’s voice to weave together the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. He recounts the adventures of his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk upbringing on the Six Nations Indian Reserve and on the gritty streets of Toronto; his odyssey at sixteen to the Mississippi Delta, the fountainhead of American music; the wild, early years on the road with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks; his unexpected ties to the Cosa Nostra underworld; the gripping trial-by-fire “going electric” with Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour, and their ensuing celebrated collaborations; the formation of The Band and the forging of their unique sound,  culminating with history’s most famous farewell concert, brought to life for all time in Martin Scorsese’s great movie The Last Waltz.

This is the story of a time and place—the moment when rock ʼnʼ roll became life, when legends like Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley crisscrossed the circuit of clubs and roadhouses from Texas to Toronto, when The Beatles, Hendrix, The Stones, and Warhol moved through the same streets and hotel rooms. It’s the story of exciting change as the world tumbled through the ʼ60s and early ʼ70s, and a generation came of age, built on music, love, and freedom. Above all, it’s the moving story of the profound friendship among five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.

Testimony is Robbie Robertson’s story, lyrical and true, as only he could tell it.


Hot Summer Reads: Mountain City Girls – The McGarrigle Family Album By: Anna McGarrigle and Jane McGarrigle


The first book and definitive family memoir from Anna and Jane McGarrigle, sisters to Kate McGarrigle and aunts of Rufus and Martha Wainwright. This book is truly a classic in the making.

The McGarrigles are known around the world for their touching, insightful songs about love, loss and family. But where and how does a family so rich in musical luminaries take root? In Mountain City Girls, Anna and Jane recount their childhood in Montreal and the Laurentian Mountains, and go further back to their ancestors’ early days in Canada, and their parents’ courtship and marriage. A vivid snapshot of coming-of-age in the 1950s, the book recounts the sisters’ school days and rebellious teenage antics, and their beginnings as musicians. It takes us through the vibrant folk music circuit of the 1960s in Montreal and New York City, and the burgeoning social movements of San Francisco, and ultimately leads to the formation of the folk music duo Kate and Anna McGarrigle, revealing the genesis behind some of their beloved songs and following their early days recording and performing. The book also reads as a tribute to Kate, who passed away in 2010, with insights into her character and creative development. Inspiringly, it speaks to the important (sometimes lifesaving) role of sisters, and is a deeply moving testament to the profound importance of family.

Charming and witty, interspersed with lyrics and photos, this book captures the McGarrigles’ lives, idiosyncratic upbringing, and literary and musical influences. No one can tell the story of the McGarrigles better than Anna and Jane, or in such an inimitable, intimate way.



Stocking Stuffer: ‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker


A wonderfully unconventional literary debut from the award-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker. An extraordinary literary work, Dear Mr. You renders the singular arc of a woman’s life through letters Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who have informed the person she is today. Beginning with the grandfather she never knew the letters range from a missive to the beloved priest from her childhood to remembrances of former lovers to an homage to a firefighter she encountered to a heartfelt communication with the uncle of the infant daughter she adopted. Readers will be amazed by the depth and style of these letters, which reveal the complexity and power to be found in relationships both loving and fraught.


‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker came to me this year when I have been wading through father stuff. It’s funny how that happens – just when you least expect it.

My dad was ill earlier this year and after years of avoiding I had to face some hard facts – he was aging. I had to put aside the grief of what could have been in my youth and as an adult woman add another ball in the air when I already felt like I was drowning.  This all came to be with next to nothing of a relationship with him.

It’s not been easy – it’s been awful. I have felt like I have aged.  But the bottom line is, as someone said to me just a few hours ago, ‘You’re a good daughter.’  Am I?  I don’t know if I’m ‘good’ or if I’m just doing what a daughter should be doing for her father in ill health and is well into his senior years.’

These days it feels quieter and less arduous. Time has passed and healing was accelerated.  I have so many thoughts.  So many things I want to say to him.  But I am scared shitless.

Dear Lifeline,

I remember your voice that night. You were so sane and male, and I needed a man’s voice.  You said two things, you said “you need to lay off yourself, just for a day, can you do that?” I said maybe, I’ll try and you said, yes try.  Then you said to do you a favor and write down some things that are good and send them to you.  You said you did that every morning before you got out of bed, you’d lie there, “clearing the cobwebs out” and ridding yourself of grudges.  Ending wars you were ready to fight, mostly against yourself.  I said how come some people do this to themselves and you said hey, I get halfway through every day and I want to blow my fuckin brains out.  I want to drive off a bridge.  I can taste the bitterness when it seeps across my tongue, making me feel dry and unlucky.  I’m telling you, you said, I just want to break something, but then I ask myself

What can I do? How can I be of service to someone or this moment, what can I do to help?

‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker is an eye opener of a book. It washed over me as I was beginning to make peace with my own turmoil.  As I read Parker’s book – memories flooded back demonstrating to me that it wasn’t all bad.  There were warm days, laughter, good learning, time to practice my voice and genuine snapshots of love.  Instead of me wallowing in the muck, I need to lie out on the grass and soak up the sun some times.

Dear Future Man Who Loves My Daughter,

First of all, show up a bit late. It may be better if she’s seen a little of the opposite of you, and relaxes in your arms only once she realizes you don’t have a gruesome face hiding under the one you first showed her.

Do not have another face hiding. Yeah.  I really would not.

Swoop in late, but not so late that she doesn’t trust it when you say you want to make her drunk on happiness.

Make her drunk on happy.

Make her unhappy. Put yourself first.  Do that awhile.  Do it long enough so that she suffers?  When she is done with that suffering, which will only make her more compassionate, watch as she rises up like the sea’s last wave and crushes you with her silence.  Notice how that silence moves in on you as she speaks, telling you that she’s had enough and you have to change.  You will see her mouth moving and recognize the words falling out and forming sentences that mean “Quit moment or I will quite you,” but the quiet that continues to threaten with staying forever if you don’t comply?  That is so much louder than her words.  She will not be crying or begging.  She will realize she is powerful and perfect alone and that she doesn’t need you.  Her commitment to those words will terrify you.  You will change for her because you realize no one is more worthy of changing for.

‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker’s tiny letters will keep you satiated and will remind you of those men in your life that made you and broke you. It’s not a book just about lovers – but rather a book that encompasses fleeting relationships, yet to be birthed ones, non-existent ones,  dalliances that could have been and breaths full of intention.

‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker is the perfect stocking stuffer for that special person in your life. Let’s look at 2016 as the year we embrace the men in our life.


Stocking Stuffer: Carrie Brownstein ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’

From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney, the book Kim Gordon says “everyone has been waiting for” and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015– a candid, funny, and deeply personal look at making a life–and finding yourself–in music.

Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as “America’s best rock band” by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.

HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.

With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.


‘If nothing else, I was living in a town that had once been home to Kurt Cobain. The simplify version of his story could be reduced to a guy who signed to a major label, got so famous that he felt alienated from his audience, and then killed himself.  And Nirvana had done it right – they had changed the weather, they had rewritten the rules, their music had mattered.  And then:  death.  This tragedy was now in the figurative guidebook – it functioned as a cautionary tale.  To wish for more was to wish for something potentially, crushingly horrible.  So if you did wish for more, you had to keep it a secret.

We chose Kill Rock Stars. We stayed close to home.

The thing is, Sleater-Kinney was ambitious. We didn’t only want to preach to the choir, to the already-converted.  We knew there was a potential audience in parts of the country that didn’t have a ‘scene’, an infrastructure.  That there were people who wouldn’t hear about us via word of mouth or fanzines or independent records stores.  Some people might only be exposed to our band if we were featured in larger magazines or sold our albums in big-boxes stores.  Eventually, I started to cringe at the elitism that was often paired with punk and the like.  A movement that professed inclusiveness seemed to actually be highly exclusive, as alienating and ungraspable as many of the clubs and institutions that drove us to the fringes in the first place.  One set of rules had simply been replaced by new ones, and they were just as difficult to follow.’

I was never a huge fan of Sleater-Kinney in my grunge years. Only recently did I fully acquaint myself with SK after getting overly giddy with Carrie Brownstein in her co-written series (with Fred Armisen) Portlandia.   If a band at 42 can still make me bust it in my kitchen on a Sunday a.m., it’s SK. Better late than never.

‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is a fanatic ode to a time where Brownstein and her and mates were trail blazing punk rock with a west coast tinge. In SK’s case their music is and was politically charged, filled with lyrics of verbose intent and knocking on doors with their knuckles that were refusing to budge.  ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ speaks of turbulent on the road journeys, romantic explosions, conundrums with their record company and how Sleater-Kinney, Washington made them and broke them.

‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ gives the reader an excellent snapshot into Brownstein’s childhood in Washington and how it shaped her into a rocker with a sensitive side and a comedy writer with a field of depth we would have never have guessed was a part of her deep personal fabric.

‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is a perfect stocking stuffer book for the music geek in your family. It is also a neat book to pick up for that loved one who is avid punk rock fan.  ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is a wonderful encyclopedia on the behind the scenes of the riot girl movement, the historical fine details of the Seattle scene and highlighting those players who carved out a time that brought us more than plaid and Doc Marten’s.

Brownstein’s written voice is profound, well read and introspective. ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is brimming with sage reflection and moments that are still raw to the touch.

Catch Carrie Brownstein at Toronto Reference Library Bram & Bluma Appel Salon on Thursday Dec 17, 2015 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.. This event has been rescheduled for December 17. All customers with November 17 tickets have been given priority and offered tickets for this new date. If you are interested in attending please add your name to the waitlist HERE http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=EVT206528.


Book Report: ‘Wicked and Weird:  The Amazing Tales of Buck 65’ By: Rich Terfry

With wit, style and a born writer’s knack for telling detail, Rich Terfry gives us the wildly entertaining story of his unusual life through the eyes of his shy but brilliant and preternaturally observant alter-ego, Buck. Born in a small town in Nova Scotia to a mother who begins yelling at him the moment he is born and a father who keeps his own counsel, Buck imbibes fear and insecurity like other kids guzzle milk. Hobbled by his fears and demons, Buck almost disappears into the “evil in the woods” that lurks just beyond the town’s border . . . until he is saved by three gifts: baseball, romantic love and music. His epic journey­­—full of diversions, coincidences, and larger-than-life characters—out of the darkness of his suicide-plagued childhood and into the bright wide world begins with a killer pitching arm (Buck almost makes it to the pros) and continues with his transformation into hip hop artist Buck 65. Along the way, Buck develops into a hopeless romantic and an obsessively creative, shape-shifting man who both fears life and dives into it with abandon. Wicked and Weird is a lively, sometimes shocking portrait of a life lived on the edge, by turns funny and heartbreaking.


“Later that afternoon when I got back to my rat-trap apartment, the light on my answering machine was flashing.  The machine was full, maxed out with messages from people freaking out, saying they had been listening to the radio and heard an interview with the band Radiohead in which they mentioned my name.  They were big fans of the ‘Man Overboard’ album.

Radiohead was the biggest band in the world at the time.  They had just released their shocking Kid A album, which changed the face of popular music.  The most important band in rock and roll was working with beats and samples and electronics, and now was telling the world that my work had influenced the group.

The floodgates opened.  Radiohead’s endorsement was enough to send me into orbit.  No everyone wanted a piece of me.  Every record company in the world wanted to sign me.  ‘Man Overboard’ started selling like crazy.  Best of all, I started hearing from people all over the world who wanted to tell me how much the song “Ice” meant to them.  I heard from people who had lost a parent.  I heard from people whose lives were affected by cancer in one way or another.  For some people the song was simply about loss or the fear of loss.  For others the song was about family.  It seemed to mean something to just about everyone who heard it.  I had connected with people – all kinds of people – and it was an incredible feeling.

A few days after my answering machine melted down, Radiohead’s manager contacted me.  He told me that the guys in the band wanted to meet me and asked if I could make it to Montreal to say hello when they were passing through on their tour.

It was an offer I couldn’t pass up. But for all the excitement and new interest, I was still broke.  And Montreal is almost eight hundred miles from Halifax.  My only choice was to hitchhike.”

If you are a fan of Rich Terfry’s radio show and Facebook ‘story’ status updates, you will fall in love with ‘Wicked and Weird:  The Amazing Tales of Buck 65’.  It will move you and make you swoon with delight.  This long awaited book indeed will take you down the rabbit hole and invite you into scenarios that are not only quirky, profound and gut wrenching but will trigger you.

Like a grand book, ‘Wicked and Weird:  The Amazing Tales of Buck 65’ will transform you and will even start to encourage you to put it down and take a moment for yourself to think about a love lost, a family member who caused you hurt, unachieved professional goals and journey’s explored but not forgotten.

‘Wicked and Weird:  The Amazing Tales of Buck 65’, reads with a sense of ease.  A perfect book for the last long weekend of the summer as we transition into the Fall.  It’s time to shed some skin – let ‘Wicked and Weird:  The Amazing Tales of Buck 65′ help you with that.

“I checked into an almost-affordable, quasi-fancy hotel in the Pigalle neighbourhood (the diseased vagina of Paris).  The lobby of the hotel was dark and red-velvety.  It hummed with menace.  Working behind the desk was one of the strangest-looking and most beautiful women I’d ever seen.  She looked like she had been photo-shopped with parts from fifteen different beautiful women.

“J’ai besoin d’une chamber, s’il vous plait.”  I slid my credit card and passport across the desk.

The woman didn’t say a word.  She just nodded and went to work, entering my information in her computer.  Her hands were beautiful.  She smiled almost imperceptibly.  When she had finished, she handed me a key attached to a giant tassel.  She gazed into my eyes for a few beats longer than what is normally comfortable.  She buried a hook into me.

There was no elevator; instead there was a grand spiral staircase.  As I climbed I did, our eyes locked.  Somehow, it wasn’t embarrassing.  I could feel her promising me something, I promised her back.

Over the next two days, I explored Paris.  I rifled the city’s drawers and medicine cabinet.  I searched under the bed.  Every time I came and went through the hotel lobby, the telepathic games with the woman behind the desk intensified.  I was returning from a thorough combing of Montmartre, when she forfeited.

“My name is Anna.”  She spoke very silently.

“What time do you get off work?”  The question sounded bold coming out of my mouth, but it didn’t feel bold.  I felt certain it was the question she wanted me to ask.  Besides, telepaths don’t waste time with formalities and small talk.  We see the light in each other that no one else sees and that’s all that matters.

“Midnight.  Wait for me outside.  On the corner.  Not here.”

At 0030 we were in her apartment, sitting at her kitchen table, drinking tea.  After the tea had been drunk we moved to the rug on her living room floor and spent the wee hours coaxing kisses from each other.  I didn’t need to ask questions to know she had many secrets to protect.  Hard secrets.

It was almost four o’clock in the morning when it was time to say good-night.

“Can I see you again tomorrow?”

A sadness she’d been avoiding all night befell her.  “It will be difficult.  I’m not working at the hotel tomorrow, but I need to take care of some business.  Tomorrow night I have to go with some guys to a party.  I don’t want to, but I have no choice.”

I was afraid to ask what that meant – and her eyes told me not to.

“Will you be late?  Can I meet you after?”

“Maybe so.  I will call you.  I would love to see you.”

She called me the night after at 2:00 a.m.  “I want to wake up next to you.”

I ran to her.  We fell asleep four hours later, as the sun was coming up.  The three days that followed blurred together.

I didn’t want to leave Paris.  But I had to. I had to finish my tour.  I had another two weeks to go, travelling around France, Spain Portugal.  I promised Anna that I would come back when the tour was over.  I was already thinking of quitting my job at the hotel back in Halifax. And staying in Paris forever.  I was ready to cut ties and distance myself from the curses, the bad luck and the evil in the tree of Nova Scotia.  I breathed better in Paris.  I slept better.  I ate better.  Paris challenged me.  I could feel it bringing out the best in me.  I decided I needed Paris.

When I left, Anna cried.  No one had ever cried over me before.”


Book Report: ‘Girl In A Band – A Memoir’ by Kim Gordon

“When we came out onstage for our last show, the night was all about the boys. Thurston double-slapped our bass guitarist Mark Ibold on the shoulder and loped across the stage, followed by Lee Ranaldo, our guitarist, and then Steve Shelley, our drummer. I found that gesture so phony, so childish, such a fantasy. Thurston has many acquaintances, but with the few male friends he had he never spoke of anything personal, and he’s never been the shoulder-slapping type. It was a gesture that called out, I’m back. I’m free. I’m solo.

I was the last one to come on, making sure to mark off some distance between Thurston and me. I was exhausted and watchful. Steve took his place behind his drum set like a dad behind a desk. The rest of us armed ourselves with our instruments like a battalion, an army that just wanted the bombardment to end. It was pouring, slanting sheets of rain.

After thirty years, tonight was Sonic Youth’s final concert. The SWU Music and Arts Festival was taking place in Itu, just outside São Paulo, Brazil, five thousand miles from our home in New England. It was a three-day-long event, broadcast on Latin American television and streamed online, too, with big corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola and Heineken. It was a strange place for things to come to an end.

Thurston and I had exchanged maybe fifteen words all week. After twenty-seven years of marriage, things had fallen apart between us. In August I’d had to ask him to move out of our house in Massachusetts, and he had. He was renting an apartment a mile away and commuting back and forth to New York.

The couple everyone believed was golden and normal and eternally intact, who gave younger musicians hope they could outlast a crazy rock-and-roll world, was now just another cliché of middle-aged relationship failure — a male midlife crisis, another woman, a double life.

They say when a marriage ends that little things you never noticed before practically make your brain split open. All week that had been true for me whenever Thurston was around. Maybe he felt the same, or maybe his head was somewhere else. I didn’t really want to know, to be honest. Offstage he was constantly texting and pacing around the rest of us like a manic, guilty kid.

Thurston mimed a mock-startled reaction as a tech passed him his guitar. At fifty-three, he was still the shaggy, skinny kid from Connecticut I first met at a downtown New York club when he was twenty-two and I was twenty-seven. He told me later he liked my flip-up sunglass shades. In his jeans, old-school Pumas, and un-tucked-in white button-down oxford, he looked like a boy frozen in some diorama, a seventeen-year-old who didn’t want to be seen in the company of his mother, or any woman for that matter. He had the Mick Jagger lips, and the lanky arms and legs he didn’t seem to know what to do with, and the wariness you see in tall men who don’t want to overpower other people with their height. His long brown hair camouflaged his face, and he seemed to like it that way.

That week, it was as if he’d wound back time, erased our nearly thirty years together. “Our life” had turned back into “my life” for him. He was an adolescent lost in fantasy again, and the rock star showboating he was doing onstage got under my skin.

The first song we played was “Brave Men Run.” It was an old, very early song from our album Bad Moon Rising. I wrote the lyrics on Eldridge Street in New York City in a tenement railroad apartment where Thurston and I were living at the time. During the song, Thurston and I didn’t look at each other once. When it was done, I turned my shoulders to the audience so no one in the audience or the band could see my face, though it had little effect. Everything I did and said was broadcast from one of the two forty-foot-high onstage video screens.

For whatever reasons — sympathy, or sadness, or the headlines and articles about Thurston’s and my breakup that followed us wherever we went that week — we had the passionate support of South American audiences. Tonight’s crowd stretched out in front of us and blurred with the dark clouds around the stadium — thousands of rain-soaked kids, wet hair, naked backs, tank tops, raised hands holding cell phones and girls on dark boys’ shoulders.

The bad weather had followed us through South America, from Lima to Uruguay to Chile and now to São Paulo — a corny movie-mirror of the strangeness between Thurston and me. The festival stages were like musical versions of awkward domestic tableaux — a living room, or a kitchen, or a dining room, where the husband and the wife pass each other in the morning and make themselves separate cups of coffee with neither one acknowledging the other, or any kind of shared history, in the room.

“Hello!” Thurston called out genially to the crowd just before the band launched into “Death Valley ’69.” Two nights earlier in Uruguay, Thurston and I had to duet together on another early song, “Cotton Crown.” Its lyrics were about love, and mystery, and chemistry, and dreaming, and staying together. It was basically an ode to New York City. I had been too upset to sing it, and Thurston had to finish by himself.

But I would make it through “Death Valley.” Lee, Thurston, and I, and then just the two of us, stood there. My about-to-be-ex husband and I faced that mass of bobbing wet Brazilians, our voices together spell-checking the old words, and for me it was a staccato soundtrack of surreal raw energy and anger and pain: Hit it. Hit it. Hit it. I don’t think I had ever felt so alone in my whole life.

The press release issued a month earlier from our record label, Matador, didn’t say much:

Musicians Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, married in 1984, are announcing they have separated. Sonic Youth, with both Kim and Thurston involved, will proceed with its South American tour dates in November. Plans beyond that tour are uncertain. The couple has requested respect for their personal privacy and does not wish to issue further comment.

“Brave Men Run,” “Death Valley ’69,” “Sacred Trickster,” “Calming the Snake,” “Mote,” “Cross the Breeze,” “Schizophrenia,” “Drunken Butterfly,” “Starfield Road,” “Flower,” “Sugar Kane,” and closing out with “Teen Age Riot.” The São Paulo set list borrowed from when we first started out, lyrics Thurston and I had written apart or together, songs that took Sonic Youth through the eighties and the nineties, and our most recent albums.

The set list may have seemed like a best-of compilation but it was carefully thought through. During rehearsal and all that week, I remember Thurston making a point of telling the band he didn’t want to perform this or that Sonic Youth song. It eventually hit me that certain songs he wanted to leave out were about her.

We could have canceled the tour, but we’d signed a contract. Performing live is how bands make a living, and we all had families and bills to pay, and in my and Thurston’s case, college tuition for our daughter Coco to think about. At the same time, I wasn’t sure how good it looked to be playing these gigs. I didn’t want people to assume that whatever stuff had gone down between Thurston and me, I was playing a supportive, stand-by-your-man role. I wasn’t. And outside of our immediate circle no one really knew what had happened.

Before flying to South America, Sonic Youth rehearsed for a week at a studio in New York. Somehow I made it through, with the help of a Xanax, the first time I’d ever taken one during the day. Instead of staying at our apartment, which now felt tainted to me, the others agreed to put me up in a hotel.

True to band form, everyone pretended things were the same. I knew the others were too nervous about how things were between Thurston and me to interact with me much, considering they all knew the circumstances of our breakup, and even knew the woman in question. I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable, and after all, I’d agreed to go along with the tour. I knew everyone had his own private judgments and sympathies, but I was surprised at how jovial everyone was acting. Maybe everyone was just too overwhelmed by the unreality.

The same went in South America. We flew separately. I flew in with the band, and Thurston traveled with Aaron, our front-of-house sound guy. On tour, after the airplane touches down, vans speed you to your hotel. People scatter, sleep, read, eat, exercise, go for a walk, watch TV, e-mail, text. That week in South America, though, everyone in the band, including the crew and the tech guys, came together for meals. A lot of the crew had worked with us for years and were like family members. Thurston sat at one end of the table, with me at the other end. It was like dining out with the folks, except Mom and Dad were ignoring each other. Everyone ordered up big platters of food and drink, and most of our conversations centered on what we were eating and drinking as a way to avoid talking about what was really going on. What was going on was the silent, unwelcome guest in the room.”


I remember being a teen and catching Sonic Youth at the Concert Hall in Toronto in the 90’s and thinking I would never see such a beautiful piece of musical art again.  I was 17, what did I know?  Not only was I enamoured with the music of Sonic Youth’s current album ‘Goo’ but I was slayed that a female bassist could kill it just as much as her male counterparts on stage.  For a 17 year old fresh out of Catholic School thought – this experience was an entry way into what I could be.

I bought into the Sonic Youth esthetic, viewing New York as a faraway place where only cool people lived, dipping into a Riot Grrrl scene and fronted Gordon’s X-girl clothing to be a part of a movement without really knowing what I was fronting.

Gordon’s voice was everything I thought it would be within her memoir.  As a teen I thought she was tough, realistic, artistic and forward thinking.  I wasn’t alone.  Carrie Brownstein, Kathleen Hanna were (and are) devoted followers.  That said I was hoping for more hootspa from ‘Girl In A Band’.  Gordon held one of the top ranks of being one of the trail blazers of the Riot Grrl movement – perhaps I was hoping for her to tell me something different now decades on as we are both older women, wiser and perhaps a more weary of life, work, family and our personal lives.

I did like the cheeky quips to some insiders throughout ‘Girl In A Band’.  It made for some awesome bed chuckling moments.

“It reached a point in São Paulo where I almost said something onstage. But I didn’t. Courtney Love happened to be touring South America at the same time. A few nights earlier, she had begun railing against a fan in the audience who was holding up a photo of Kurt Cobain. “I have to live with his shit and his ghost and his kid every day and throwing that up is stupid and rude,” she screamed. She left the stage, saying she’d return only if the audience agreed to chant, “Foo Fighters are gay.” The clip ended up on YouTube. It was typical Courtney shtick, but I would never want to be seen as the car crash she is. I didn’t want our last concert to be distasteful when Sonic Youth meant so much to so many people; I didn’t want to use the stage for any kind of personal statement, and what good would it have done anyway?”.

‘Girl in a Band’, is a wonderful read on reflection alongside ¼ members of one of the most popular post-punk bands of our time.   Snapshots with feathered edges, emotional turmoil, creative highs, musical and artistic success with dashes of grief are laid out in front of us as a formal goodbye in words that Gordon verbalizes in her most authentic voice.

“Thurston had already announced a bunch of solo shows that would start in January. He would fly to Europe and then circle back to the East Coast. Lee Ranaldo was planning on releasing his own solo album. Steve Shelley was playing nonstop with the Chicago-based band Disappears. I would be playing a few gigs with a friend and fellow musician named Bill Nace, and working on artwork for an upcoming show in Berlin, but mostly I’d be home with Coco, helping her through her senior year of high school and the college application process. In the spring, Thurston and I had put our New York apartment on Lafayette Street on the market, and it finally sold six months later. Apart from that, just as the press release said, Sonic Youth had no future plans.

The band closed with “Teen Age Riot” from our album Daydream Nation. I sang, or half sang, the first lines: “Spirit desire. Face me. Spirit desire. We will fall. Miss me. Don’t dismiss me.”’


From the book GIRL IN A BAND: A Memoir by Kim Gordon. Copyright © 2015 by Kim Gordon. Reprinted by permission of Dey Street Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Text also achieved from the following article, http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/02/kim-gordon-on-the-pain-of-performing-with-her-ex.html?mid=facebook_nymag