Kim Gordon, vocalist, bassist and founding member of Sonic Youth, released her memoir Girl in a Band (Harper Collins, 2015) a few years ago, and I am finally getting my hands on it. The Guardian published an excerpt of the book, which confirmed that I must have this treasure in my collection. As a (woman/mother) musician, I am hungry for these types of life stories that explain, in sometimes heart wrenching detail, the struggles, hardships and discrimination that women in music still face- even today some 40 years after the woman’s movement.
It was one thing to leave New York, still another to get used to a new daily rhythm. One morning after dropping Coco off at school, I stood around chatting with one of the dads, a scientist. “I’m going to the gym,” he said to me. “What do you have going on for the day?” “I have to go home and interview Yoko Ono over the phone,” I said. The words came out before I could edit them. “Wow,” he said, “you lead a pretty glamorous life, don’t you?” I didn’t, though. Interviewing Yoko Ono was just another thing I ended up doing that fell into my lap, in its own way stressful. I found it hard, working on art projects, running the house, raising a daughter, and having a full-time music career.
One of the reasons Kim is such an icon, is she has always been unabashedly herself: an artist. Even hardships and stressors couldn’t take that away from her. Not even with the addition of the huge role change of becoming a mother. Kim writes:
Yes, [Coco] changed our lives, and no one is more important to me, but the band played on.
Kim’s memoir is no doubt a fantastic account that can resonate with people trying to lead a creative life and also balance family. I tend to believe that a little bit of empathy goes a long way. Memoirs allow me to intentionally try to put someone else’s lenses on, and see things through their eyes. An essential tool as we try to be human beings in this crazy and magical world. Kim’s story allows us to see her world view as a prominent woman, who trail blazed the rock’n’roll industry. It’s a must read for both musician mothers and fans of Sonic Youth alike.