kim gordon girl in a band

A quite disappointing music bio

I’ve finally made if through Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band.

If you’re unfamiliar with Kim Gordon, she was the bass player of Sonic Youth, a fairly unmelodic band active between 1980 and 2011. No, I was never a fan, but that’s of no consequence when it comes to what music bios I choose to read. This one caught my interest because any female with even the slightest connection to 90s rock and you’ve got my attention.

I hate to say Girl in a Band seemed better in theory than it actually was. But it did and it was. Despite it being a quite thin volume it was such a long read.

Not sure where to start. I was so looking forward to this read and was so disappointed.

Let’s start here:

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Well, Examiner.com, I take it you have no read an awful lot of music biographies.

I have. This wasn’t one of the better ones.

I don’t blame Gordon. Apparently, publishers don’t really care about biographies by famous people much. It’s just an easy way to make money and it’s abundantly clear that someone has had a talk with Gordon and then just written it down. There’s especially poor writing towards the end of the book, just insane use of exclamation points and Haha. 

This is probably the main reason it’s not great; a lack of understanding that you can’t just write spoken word down and expect it to make sense unedited.

And it makes me so sad because I am v. v. interested in knowing more about events that Gordon was directly and/or indirectly involved in. Which is another problem, there is never more of anything really, it’s just a constant barely touching upon a subject, never going into anything in-depth or to any extent at all, just quickly moving on. Considering I’m rarely interested in any topic in-depth, you can imagine just how shallow and little any event is discussed at all.

In some cases, the lack of depth is just confusing. Like when she’s talking about Keller (apparently her brother, which I’m not sure why I should be interested in as a reader..?), and his schizophrenia – as if it’s something that’s common knowledge.

I wish they’d focused on a smaller number of events and just discussed them in more detail. I’m not saying tell us all! Just you know, something would have been nice.

I keep thinking about this Nico biography, Songs they never play on the radio, which is one of my favorite music bios ever. It focuses on the last years of Nico’s life, and it’s just this slim little book, and it really paints a picture. I keep wanting Girl in a Band to be like that. It’s nothing like that.

Now. If the publishers cared at all, this book would take its starting point in chapter 33, which is about when Gordon produced Hole’s Pretty on the inside (well, it’s sort of a little about that…without really telling a story at all). It’s obvious there is a story here:

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So much promise!

Another thing that could have been focused on, the Lydia Lunch connection, because Lydia is a madly fascinating character:

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Bit off topic; I loved the below observation. Because that’s my theory too, I don’t understand how you could possibly come from where I come from and not be into metal. But apparently, it’s quite possible (e.g. my brother). But to me, this makes sense:

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…PS. the girls were playing with Satan too.

A final thing the publishers should have made sure was more of a focus, was Gordon’s observations, opinions and thoughts about women in music. There are numerous examples of this topic in the book, and I’m so sure there was more to tell. I really, really would have wanted an expansion on this:

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It should be noted though, that whoever did the layout of this book did an excellent job. Visually, the text and pictures, how they work together, it’s just a joy for the eye.

But basically, I don’t feel as if I’ve read a book about Kim Gordon. It feels as if she’s not the main character of this story. It’s always someone else. Keller. Thurston. Courtney. It’s just really strange.

My rating: there are other bios to read. I’ve already mentioned Songs they never play on the radio. Beth Ditto’s Coal to diamonds – also a better read.

Now. I’m off to do some research, I’m hoping there’s a bio on at least one of the following:

Lydia Lunch
Diamanda Galas
Kathleen Hannah
Anyone beside Courtney who was ever in Hole

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