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Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,386 ratings  ·  256 reviews
A frank and funny pop culture memoir in the vein of Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman, this is "how to be a woman artist"
 This is the story of Tracey Thorn, one half of the internationally successful group Everything But the Girl, collaborator with such artists as Paul Weller, Massive Attack, and dance legend Todd Terry. Tracey was only 16 when she bought an electric guita
Hardcover, 365 pages
Published March 15th 2013 by Virago UK (first published February 2013)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  2,386 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Hannah Renowden
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
For me and people my age, Tracey Thorn is the woman half of Everything But The Girl. She is the woman who knew more about the brittle, slightly freaky, break up song long before Adele raised an arm at singing school.

She is also the woman who I mistakenly believed had started her career during the Britpop era, wrote a one hit wonder and then disappeared. I can remember it being a total revelation when one of my older siblings pointed out that she and the band had been around for years in one guis
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've enjoyed Tracey Thorn's music for many years, dating back to the days of Everything But The Girl's "Amplified Heart" record (and they'd done quite a few before that one...) right up to her recent solo albums "Out of the Woods", "Love and Its Opposite" and this year's Christmas record "Tinsel and Lights". So what was I expecting from her memoir?

Not what I got, is the actual answer. I was expecting celebrity anecdotes and a look back at a successful, if not stratospheric, pop career. Instead,

If you liked Anything But The Girl as much as I did, then this is for you.

Blurbs: Written and read by Tracey Thorn.

(view spoiler)
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Since reading this book I've become a Tracey Thorn fan.

I always quite liked her but Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star has given me a new perspective.

She's fab

Bright, thoughtful, self deprecating, self aware, interesting, and with an intriguing tale to tell, especially if you lived through punk and what followed, or if you have any interest in idiosyncratic pop music from slightly outside the mainstream.

And isn't "Bedsit Disco Queen" one of the all time great book t
May 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Perhaps previous bands had inspired those with genuine musical talent to buy instruments, start practising and dream of one day being good enough to perform. But after 1977 it seemed there was no need to fanny around wasting time on things like practising, or honing your craft – you could just buy an instrument, get together with anyone else who had one and go out and do a gig. Right now. For teenagers with the patience and attention spans of goldfish, this was enormously appealing. There was
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was so happy when I saw that Tracey Thorn wrote a memoir. I have loved her since 1984 when I heard her on The Style Council's first album, singing The Paris Match. I had a bit of an obsession with Paul Weller in high school so the fact he had included her on his album was like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval to me. Then Eden came out shortly after that and I got to hear her for an entire album and it confirmed my love for her singing. If I was able to choose anyone's voice to sing like, ...more
Pete daPixie
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kindly disregard this book review. Whatever is written here is certain to be extremely biased. For readers who know little of EBTG just try 'the best of' album as a great intro.
'Bedsit Disco Queen' was featured on BBC Radio Four 'Book of the Week' recently, read by Tracey Thorn herself. It was great listening, while trucking down the highway driving with the shaven insane. I wasn't aware of any published autobiography from the Thorn bird and just made a mental note. A week later in the town libr
Thomas Strömquist
It was with utmost delight I found out that Tracey Thorn in fact got a third memoir out this year, because that means I have not one, but two more to look forward to.

This first one was an absolute delight; open-hearted, funny and a very appealing voice (yes, even on paper). Thorn manages to expose and even make a bit fun of herself, without ever falling into self-depreciation or ever sounding dishonest. She offers a lot of insight into the music industry, letting us know how much is up to chanc
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Oh, how I've always loved Everything But The Girl since I bought their first album my freshman year of college, 1985. They seemed to tell my life story through their music and Tracey's lyrics - I felt like they were my friends. I even wrote a fan letter to them AND BEN WATT WROTE ME BACK! I still have the letter he wrote me. When I heard that Tracey had written a memoir, I scoured the internet to get a copy ASAP!

Reading Bedsit Disco Queen is like reading your best friend's story. Tracey's honest
Niklas Pivic
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
An autobiography that was really finished in 2007, but has dragged along somewhat. Not plotting, just being relevant and to-the-point just like Tracey Thorn's music. No fiddling around, really.

Violent lifestyle swings from luxury to squalor and back again – sometimes within minutes. If you like those kinds of stories, stories where the lead characters seem to blunder through life, much as you do through your own, then you might like this one. The experience of writing it has sometimes been very
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, music, own-copy
I loved this book.

Tracey Thorn, half of the band, Everything But The Girl, tells a really interesting and engaging tale of what it was like being part of the music scene from the late 1970’s to the present. Loving lots of the independent bands and “alternative” music from this era, I was hooked from the very start, and I think anyone else who has either an interest in music, or a well written biography, would be too.

The stories about life on the road, the silent Japanese audiences, gigs in venu
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like (I assume) most kids who came of age during the 90’s, Everything but the Girl cropped up on my radar in 1995 with Todd Terry’s Missing remix. Incidentally that year Massive Attack’s Tracey Thorn sung Protection single was released, which did very well on MTV. I saw Tracey Thorn in the Missing video and connections were made (don’t forget there’s wasn’t Wikipedia, you had to do the sleuthing yourself) . Jump to 1996 and the Walking Wounded and Wrong singles dominated my life that summer.

Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Totally loved this. Yes I am a sucker for all things like singer memoirs, since it is specifically the same thing I do. Music, and life, how to be a creative person, how crazy life and dedicating your life to music can be. I love her thoughts on it, and how she expresses it. Will be reading her other memoir as well.
Rachel Stevenson
Feb 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked EBTG even during their dinner party jazz-lite phase (which, pace Thorn, was actually the anti-rockist avant-garde) and I was impressed with Tracey Thorn's '90s reinvention as an electro-goddess. I love the Marine Girls, and her early solo songs (Too Happy, Pigeons In The Attic Room) hit me in the gut every time. In her memoir, Tracey is witty, self-deprecating and self-aggrandising in turn, and she is blessed with amazing powers of recall. Pertinent lyrics are printed between chapters, a ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. When I was at school the cool girls were into Everything But The Girl (both of them). They never seemed to do the publicity thing, there were often rumours about them being a couple/ splitting up that I remember, and I think that it was because they were a bit mysterious that I started buying their stuff. That and the voice of Tracey Thorn. The serendipitous story of Tracey's career and the machinations of the pop industry make an interesting story, moreso because it is ...more
Adam Stone
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Bedsit Disco Queen is the memoir of the female half of the eighties and nineties pop duo Everything but the Girl.

The book is not just about Everything but the Girl though, it is also about music in general and being a pop star in those halcyon days.

It begins in the late nineteen seventies when Tracey first becomes interested in music. Even if you only know Everything but the Girl from the song Missing there will be lots to enjoy in this book and that is mainly because it is well written and is
Phil Overeem
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely stellar pop music memoir and journey to full adulthood, self-discovery, and self-acceptance. My five-star rating should be considered against the fact that, other than her 2018 album RECORD and "Protection," I had not a clue who she was. I am now a huge fan and have much catching up to do. Her style is smart, clear, focused, and wry, and the lyrics she selects from her songbook fit like a glove. ...more
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I was born in 1992. I did not know who the author was before I started reading her book. I just wanted to read more celebrity/music memoirs, and hers looked good. To that end, it's a testament to her writing - probably helped a lot by those degrees in literature, huh? - that I still found this whole thing pretty engaging despite never having followed her career before now. The first part dragged a bit but that's probably just because it took place well before I was born and was ...more
Barry Hammond
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Former girl group member from The Marine Girls, then later vocalist and songwriter for Everything But The Girl, Tracey Thorn, writes a very literate and interesting memoir of her somewhat reluctant career as a pop star. For one thing, she's probably the only pop star to go back to university to get her Masters degree in English Literature during a lull in her career before making a comeback. Should be compulsory reading for anyone wanting to go into the music business. - BH. ...more
Scott Leffler
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of, if not, the best memoirs about music that I’ve read.
Honest, in depth and thought provoking.
Please read this book and enjoy, her music,
(a few of my fav.)
Marine Girls: Lazy Ways,
Tracy Thorn: Plain Sailing
Everything But the Girl: Eden
Mike Clarke
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Every triumph, every fight, under disco light...

Once upon a time in this native land, every student wore a charity store Crombie, winklepickers and a permanent scowl, spiked their hair with Studioline gel and drank Guinness. Once upon a time every student had an Everything But The Girl album in their record collection, and possibly something by the Marine Girls and Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn too. It's all true.

Thorn's story is a little piece of living history, from a time when you could create a
Kimmo Sinivuori
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tracey Thorn’s Bedsit Disco Queen is a thoroughly enjoyable memoir. It is funny, ironic and unlike most of the good pop/rock memoirs I’ve read, almost completely void of bitterness. If she has ill feeling towards some of the people she has worked with or met during her long career she doesn’t show it. The only stab Thorn takes is at Duran Duran and even that is not really meant as an insult but rather used to give context to a feeling she is trying to express. However, this doesn’t mean that her ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I wasn't a huge Everything But the Girl fan, but since reading her partner Ben Watt's book 'Patient' a few years ago I've rather admired Tracey Thorn - she seemed like a real person in a rather artificial profession.
Her autobiography is highly readable, well written and tells the story of her life and career as a shy and private singer/songwriter/performer from very unstarry beginnings - as a suburban teenager who just wants to make music and be in a band, through stardom and domesticity, to her
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a suburban schoolgirl who wants to be cool, starts an all-girl band, goes to university, meets her future husband and starts another band, gets somewhat famous, becomes a has-been, gets really famous & hugely in demand, retires at the pinnacle of her career to be a mum and then starts making great music on her own terms.

Her story is engaging and I certainly felt I learnt about her experiences and motivations across her varied career. It was particularly interesting to read l
Rodney Farrant
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just spent the morning reading Bedsit Disco Queen. I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I am slightly biased as I am a huge fan of Everything But The Girl and Tracey Thorn. But more so, it is a fascinating and compelling account of an unconventional and alternative pop career. An insightful snapshot of 80s/90s UK Pop culture, which includes Thorn's first girl group the Marine Girls, collaborations with Paul Weller, Massive Attack and their dancefloor hit "Missing". Thorn's voice throughou ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I rarely finish an autobiography but I loved this one. As other reviewers have suggested, Tracey Thorn's writing style is as pared back and self-deprecating as her lyrics. She was a pleasure to spend time with: revealing without indulgence; peppered with anecdotes about well-known people without name-dropping. The text is peppered with song lyrics which will have your reaching for your record collection (or in my case for YouTube - too much decluttering in the last 20 years!)
In fact, I would rea
Mark Freeman
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Took me a while to get this book living in the US and I eventually ordered it on and went back to England to get it.
Enjoyment of books, like music, are a combination of time and place as well as content. EBTG for me was the Eden album and my first job, teaching in London. That voice and lyrics that connected.
Though well written I thought Thorn had some trouble connecting her emotional journey, this is more of a career bio. Its not until Ben gets sick that you realize how much she hasn'
Garry Potter
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have always been a big admirer of EBTG and Tracey Thorn's fabulous song writing and voice. I really enjoyed reading this book, a fabulous insight into the musical career of a great British singer and her evolution as an artist. I smiled, I laughed and sad to say even had a tear ( when Ben was very ill). I highly recommend this book. I look forward to the next book, the next Tracey Thorn album, and hopefully another EBTG album ( I haven't given up hope). ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
i loved this book more than i even expected too. somehow it makes me even happier to have been a fan all these years. it was great to read about what tracey was into even before she was in the marine girls. nice to read that the albums that had me nearly giving up on the band - the band themselves weren't particularly fond of either. ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written (as you would expect from a woman who managed to get a First in Eng Lit while juggling two bands, a solo career, and touring). This is wry and understated, and Tracey comes across as level-headed and self-aware as she remembers her youth and almost nerdy passion for making music, and the highs and embarrassing lows of being a pop star.
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