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Girl in a Band

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  21,884 ratings  ·  1,765 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, fashion icon, and role model for a generation of women, now tells her story—a memoir of life as an artist, of music, marriage, motherhood, independence, and as one of the first women of rock and roll, written with the lyricism and haunting beauty of Patti Smith's Just Kids.

Often described as aloof, Kim Go
...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 273 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Dey Street Books (first published February 2015)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  21,884 ratings  ·  1,765 reviews


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Sgossard
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it
I finally understand why they say you should never meet your heroes.
I thought (just like you) that Kim was the coolest ever in the hippest band ever. If you want to keep thinking that, don't ever read this book. Read this one instead. If you're already set on reading it anyway or got it as a gift or pre-ordered it just like me, at least let me help you a bit.

Out of the 288 pages in this book, around 150 are about how growing up was for her, how her brother emotionally abused and traumatised he
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Lauren
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting and at times even moving, but mostly, there is a distance there and whether or not it's because there are places she doesn't want to go or doesn't care to take you, I'm not sure. There is something very unresolved about it as a memoir but again, that's ok - she's in the middle of a major life change and you can feel it.

Not that different from how I feel about Sonic Youth, a band I liked and even admired, but never felt a heart connection to.

All that said, I still enjoyed reading it
...more
Jane Settles cigarran
A very fast read and quite illuminating though not for the reasons one might expect. I was pretty dismayed at how Kim's elitism and namedropping goes hand in hand with her playing punk rock contests and speaking really harshly about other women. It's one thing to say Courtney Love is crazy but quite another to complain just chapters before, how sexist it was to call a brash woman "crazy". It's one thing to admit to dating older, influential, stifling men as a young women but quite another to say ...more
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band offers interesting insights, especially on the formation of Sonic Youth, how the band approached songs and albums (what they had in mind while writing specific songs and what their studio sessions were like). Gordon also relates how the band identified itself in the context of punk/counterculture, citing tours with Nirvana, performances by Black Flag as well as voices from the art scene. Other stories (such as close calls of friends with Charles Manson in a dark versi ...more
Anhelo
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book really reminds you to Kill Yr Idols.

I was disappointed by this book for several reasons. I didn't find interesting to learn about Thurston Moore's affairs in detail. Gordon can use the book to talk about whatever the f she wants, including her ex partner's affairs. It's her book and it obviously was a part of her grieving process. I agree with some other reviewers who suggested that telling a story of a couple falling in and out of love would have made more sense, rather than labeling
...more
Vanessa
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True to her stage persona Kim Gordon has the effortless cool detached rock thing happening, what you see is what you get. Kim is a hard nut to crack, you can see that she truly struggles to open up but when she does it’s worth the wait.

She can be scathing, hard edged and cynical. Sometimes a little too harsh. Something that bugged me...I didn’t always like the dissing of some of the better known alternative bands that made it into the mainstream. Like they were lesser bands because of it. Good
...more
Lynx
Kim Gordon's life has certainly taken her to fascinating places. Growing up in the sixties, traveling, infiltrating the NYC art scene, Sonic Youth's formation and success, starting her own fashion line, producing others music and films, becoming an artist in her own right and all while being female and a mother, something ignorant journalists never fail to ask her about. Theres certainly never a dull moment in this book. Kim opens up about all these things as well as her personal relationships, ...more
Ettore Pasquini
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in visual arts, women's rights, performing
Shelves: musica
This book gave me a different view not just on Kim Gordon herself, but also on women's rights and the role of visual arts post-1960s.

I listened to the audio book, main reason being that she is reading it herself. It was my first audiobook, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I have to say that her "performance" adds something to this memoir. Even if a few times her reading stutters, in my opinion this makes the experience all the more intimate. The level of intimacy here is pretty uni
...more
Jim
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I think its telling that after spending 270 pages with the author I don't really have a sense of her as an artist, musician, or a person. I know a lot more about her projects and things that happened to her, but at the end of the book she remains a cipher. For someone who has accomplished so much the book feels thin, understandably disjointed, yet lacking in depth. It's also oddly humorless, but as many have remarked, the memoir begins and ends with her break-up with Thurston Moore and it colors ...more
Jayne Lamb
I'm hoping that this will turn out to be the biggest literary let-down of 2015, because I can't think what could be worse. You know how Gordon is famous for being icy, opaque, inscrutable? This memoir is.. icy, opaque and inscrutable. Page after page of naming art dealers, a statement at the beginning about her whole reason for writing the book was because of her marriage ending - and you find out *nothing* about her relationship with her former husband, Thurston Moore. She disses several other ...more
El
Last night I came across a journal I kept in late 1997 and early 1998, a journal I completely had forgotten about, but it seemed fitting to come across it now since reading this book has taken me back to around that period when I was listening to a lot of Sonic Youth. It was like being 19, 20 again and feeling like music was actually accomplishing something. (All that really meant was I was listening to music that affected me in some way, regardless of what it was doing to the rest of the listen ...more
Darwin8u
Maskenfreiheit: The Freedom Conferred by Masks

description

"In general, though women aren't really allowed to be kick-ass. It's like the famous distinction between art and craft: Art and wilderness, and pushing against the edges, is a male thing. Craft and control, and polish, is for women. Culturally we don't allow women to be as free as they would like, because that is frightening. We either shun those women or deem them crazy. Female singers who push too much, and too hard, don't tend to last very long. T
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Melanie
Liked it but didn't love it. I'm not sure how I came to purchase this book. I think it must have been on a "buy two get one free" table at the bookstore. I have heard of Sonic Youth but have never listened to their music. I liked reading about the author's childhood, growing up in L.A. in the 60's and having a schizophrenic brother. I also liked reading about her life in New York City, forming a band, getting married and having a child in a rock 'n roll environment. The only part that slogged fo ...more
Michelle
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Didn't like this quite as much as I thought I would. Some weird tone problems, too much name-dropping (as opposed to more in-depth reflection), some randomly dropped-in feminist sloganeering that felt artificial, and holy moly, some really questionable decisions about the framing of the breakup of her marriage and band. I'm still totally Team Kim, but dang, some of it was really, really cringe-inducing.
Julie Ehlers
What I found most interesting about Girl in a Band was the way Kim Gordon’s experiences in the Manhattan art world of the 1980s affected her other creative pursuits, including music. There’s a lot of appropriation going on, and Kim speaks quite openly about the ways various songs, album covers, and other projects were influenced by other artists and creative works she admires. This was a new way of looking at creativity for me, and I enjoyed it.

Some reviewers have complained that Kim should not
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Tosh
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
i know I'm in the minority of most readers of Kim Gordon's "Girl in a Band," but I think the book would be a lot more interesting if she focused on her childhood and then the New York years. I liked her descriptions of Manhattan life in the late 70s and early 80's - and also the sections that deals with her ill brother. If I was the editor, I would ask more writing about her family as well as the early stages of being an artist among other artists in the New York world. The marriage part is too ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
West Coast Girl (in an East Coast Band)

This memoir could equally have been titled “West Coast Girl in an East Coast Band".

Kim Gordon spent much of her youth outside New York, and really only gravitated towards there to pursue an artistic career after she finished college.

New York, to her, represented a combination of “influences and possibilities” (“it was all unknown and possibility", aka “risk and excitement”).

She arrived just as the avant garde art scene was corporatising and starting to be
...more
susie
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiftyfiftyme
COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED.

- - -

Edit: Ok, now I've read. I savored! This book was everything I hoped for and sometimes more and sometimes less.
That it was just a little bit flawed makes it feel more intimate a portrayal.


Kim Gordon is an icon of counter-culture. I looked up to her when I was a teen, and she's one of few people I looked up to *then* that I can say I still do *now*. She has a whip smart internal compass that has guided her through decades of style and dozens of interesting experime
...more
Christine
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has all the good, bad and ugly that previous reviewers have mentioned, but reading it so shortly after finishing Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist, I didn't find the philosophical ironies irritating, but more revealing and human. You can be a feminist and still dislike Courtney Love. How feminist is it to rag on her nose? Not very, but it was human moments like this that I found most engaging. This is a book that made me take notes on things to read and art to look at. I am amazed at Gordon's ...more
Susan
May 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015-books-read
I loved Sonic Youth and saw them many times so I was really looking forward to this book. Then I read it. Once you discard all the pointless and insecure name dropping, there are two main points the author makes:

1. All her life she has lived in the shadow of men who have made it impossible for her to figure out who she was and what she was all about.

2. She had the most difficult pregnancy of any woman on earth and found raising one child to be an unbearable burden, the likes of which no other w
...more
Carol
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was put off by the opening being about Thurston Moore at first, though she has every reason to be angry, because I knew enough about Kim Gordon to want to hear about her multifaceted career from the top, I realized others might feel as if they were waiting to hear what happened to that iconic relationship and not fully experience her remarkable story as an artist had she chosen not to put it out there right off. I loved this bio enough to want to go purchase the audio book to hear all over aga ...more
Jenna
First things first: Having recently read a few memoirs of women in music, I can confirm I'm reliably mystified/enchanted by (Read: a sucker for) some of the reverse-Pygmalion-like conventions of these stories. Specifically, an influential countercultural musician who claims at the outset to:

--Have had no actual musical training. I mean, we're talking "has barely held an instrument/what's an instrument?" territory. And then suddenly, is Just Playin' It Up at some point in the not too distant futu
...more
Minty McBunny
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having read several lukewarm reviews by fellow Sonic Youth fans, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by this book.

I was not prepared for how amazing it was and how it's been haunting me since I finished it.

I have long admired Kim for her toughness and her talent. Sonic Youth, particularly Kim's singing, made me feel bold and empowered at a time when I was neither and they have a special place in my heart.

This memoir is moody and atmospheric, as you'd expect it might be. It's artsy, it's nostalgi
...more
Lea
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the first half I was ready to give this memoir 5 stars. I found it extremely well written, easy to read and very engaging. In the second half my enthusiasm talented off somewhat.

I’m a casual Sonic Youth listener. I own a few of their records, but always thought there were a bit too “cool” for me (always makes me think of the cool kinds in Daria) even though I adore some songs. I saw them live at a festival a decade ago and it was one of the best music sets I’ve ever seen. They sounded incred
...more
Deuce
Apr 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Thurston Moore is a narcissist, New York City used to be cool but now is all Pret A Mangers, and here's a bunch of art dealers you're not cool enough to know.

There, you've read the book. It's amazing how uninteresting an incredibly interesting life can be.
Sabs
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
I couldn't even make it to the good stuff. I was so utterly bored by one of the most fascinating lives ever lived. Kim needed a better editor. I bet the audio book would be worthwhile. Book is just name droppy boring writing. Really had higher expectations for this.
Leah
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I can't believe I'm about to use this as the definitive word for a book by Kim Gordon, but, more than anything, Girl in a Band is... boring.

I don't doubt that she wrote this book because she wanted to. I don't doubt that she wanted to tell her story, but Girl in a Band just skirts the surface of her very interesting life, coasting along until we get to what/who broke up Gordon and Moore. It feels like she had a kind of tunnel vision in writing this, giving us enough detail to lead us to this con
...more
Edmole
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
So hard to say what I feel about this book. It's full of a lot of pain, as Kim clearly and heartily states her case and shows her wounds over her split with Thurston Moore. But outside of that, there is an odd blankness, a cool recounting of a sequence of events. It reminded me a little of Viv Albertine's book, of a woman at the heart of various scenes and engaged and creative within them, but simultaneously seeming and being swept along by cultural history. Maybe women are better able to accept ...more
Vanessa
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really entertaining rock memoir - the short chapters, the photographs, and the anecdotes within all built up to educate me on Kim Gordon, one of the founding members of Sonic Youth, providing me with a lot of things I had never known about her before.

In under 300 pages, Kim Gordon details her life growing up with a troubled, emotionally-abusive older brother, her coming into her own in New York, her work in the art scene, her musical career with Sonic Youth and other bands, and her fa
...more
Christopher
Sonic Youth is great and Kim Gordon was an indispensable part of the band; it wouldn't have been successful without her, and that's something you'd rarely say about a bass player. However, I should have left it at that. I don't usually indulge in artist/author/musician biographies, because they almost always devalue the subject in my mind. I like for the art to do all the necessary speaking for its creator. Another way of saying that is: the art is what's interesting about the person, everything ...more
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Kim Althea Gordon is an American musician, vocalist, and artist. She sings, plays bass and guitar in the alternative rock band Sonic Youth. She also plays in the band Free Kitten with Julie Cafritz (of Pussy Galore), and she has collaborated with musicians such as Ikue Mori, Kurt Cobain, DJ Olive, William Winant, Lydia Lunch, Alan Licht, and Chris Corsano.

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