On Kim Gordon’s upcoming book about Sonic Youth, ‘Girl in a Band’

Kim Gordon performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2007.
(Branimir Kvartuc / Associated Press)

Sonic Youth came into being more than 30 years ago, when Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore started playing together in New York City. With bandmates Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, they released dissonant, loud, arty records that changed the sound of rock music at the end of the 20th century. And now Gordon is writing a memoir about it.

Steve Appleford called their music “the sounds of beauty and noise.” Jonathan Gold, who talked to the band back in 1990, wrote that the “group’s strangely tuned guitars rang out like distorted bells or Indian sarods; its deadpan lyrics lay obscurely as punk koans.” For Margaret Wappler, it was a “fusion of high-art experimentation and trashy cool.” Wappler saw the band perform at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010 and noted Gordon’s powerful stage presence: “Refreshingly, age isn’t a detractor for this designer-musician-artist; if anything, being over 50 only reinforces the sense that Gordon’s seen a lot of things – and nothing has scared her.”

That fearlessness has carried over to memoir writing: Gordon’s “Girl in a Band” will be published by It Books in late 2014 or early 2015. We asked editor Carrie Thornton to give us a preview of the book -- this is what she could share, as the book is still being written.

Does the book include the full stretch of Sonic Youth, or does it focus on a specific time in the band’s history?

Full stretch of Kim’s life and her time in the band.

Is it an all-text memoir, or will it incorporate ephemera?


Still being discussed, but will certainly include some sort of visual elements.

Will there be an e-book version – and if so, will it have any music?

Ebook, of course. Not yet determined if enhanced ebook will contain music.

Her creativity has extended beyond the boundaries of the band – art, fashion, film. Will she be writing about any other projects?

Yes, the book is very much a portrait of Kim as a multi-faceted artist.

Now that Gordon and Moore, who were married for decades, have split, it might not be possible to see Sonic Youth again. Here they are live in 2008, performing “Teenage Riot.”


Say hello to National Poetry Month!

Video chat with Ben Katchor and David L. Ulin

‘Cursed’ Roman ring may be Tolkien’s ‘ring to rule them all’

Carolyn Kellogg: Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+