Noriyuko 'Pat''s Reviews > Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth

Goodbye 20th Century by David Browne
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's review
May 29, 10

Read in May, 2010

Well, this book promised a lot - primarily, an analysis of the rich cultural background that fed into Sonic Youth's sound. I came to the book expecting work on how, say, d.a levy's poetry informed 'NYC Ghosts and Flowers'; why Brakhage's films influenced Lee Ranaldo, how the whole downtown scene swirling around Branca and Chatham proved crucial to SY's forging their distinctive sound. Instead, what I got was merely name-checking followed by seemingly endless minutiae about, for example, sound engineers, record label struggles, and the like. Where was the story about the 'alternative arts scene [...:] a world of punk rock, underground films and comics, experimental music, conceptual art, contemporary classical compositions' that the blurb promised me? Nowhere, really, other than in name only. Simply pointing out that Mike Kelley was Kim Gordon's friend, or that Moore's home is packed with Beat-era 'pamphlets', does not open up the songs at all. I wait for a book that finally begins the work of actually reading SYs songs alongside the rich cultural world they remain so devoted to.
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