photo credit: Sonic Youth
Kim Gordon is a lot like you.
That’s because, like many women in the 21st century, Gordon discovered her husband’s affair via technology.
And there’s nothing like uncovering that kind of text message or sexy selfie.
“I went back to checking his e-mail, where I found several short, porno-like videos that she had sent him,” she writes in her memoir, Girl In A Band. “Thurston denied ever responding to them, but sometime after that I found an e-mail he’d drafted to her with a photo of him attached…I asked him to move out of the house.”
Gordon and her husband, Thurston Moore, were indie rock’s most celebrated couple – the founders of no-wave Sonic Youth, a band that provided a critical soundtrack to Generation X. They were bandmates for 30 years and husband and wife for 27 before their marriage ended in 2011.
Sonic Youth was a cultural guidebook for Gen X women – and men – seeking a certain coolness especially in a partner. Who didn’t like the cute, poet guy in English lit class who wore the Goo or Washing Machine T-shirt? Hell, many of us ended up dating, or marrying, that guy who later became a “lost soul” as Gordon describes Moore.
We grew up just like Gordon and Moore did, and parenthood, relationship drama and failures followed. If anything, Gordon’s frank book serves as a roadmap for women who admired her in the ’80s and ’90s and now embark on their own solo journey.
Gordon, 61, tells us what’s it like being alone, finding herself navigating in this brave new single world while trying to make sense of the past. She admits that while she may have appeared as the confident girl in the band, she was often not that off-stage. She had doubts, she had insecurities, she longed to be a mother and found family life comfortable in suburbia. And she and her husband fought. “If and when that took place, our fights mostly centered around how he treated or spoke to me.” (Been there, experienced that, haven’t you?)
Certainly, she talks about growing up in California and the Sonic Youth years, but her present and future is so much more interesting than that time she wore the infamous Eat Me t-shirt for a photo shoot.
Gordon’s prologue ironically titled “The End” is so heart-wrenching that I had to throw the book down for a minute. She writes that during the last-ever Sonic Youth show at a huge festival in Brazil, she stood on the stage with her soon-to-be ex in front of thousands of fans. Her life was crumbling around her. “I don’t think I had ever felt so alone in my whole life,” she said.
Ouch. But whether on a stage, at a party or in an office cubicle, many of us have likely that sinking feeling that what was once beautifully pure is now forever tainted.
“The couple everyone believed was golden and normal and eternally intact, who gave younger musicians hope they could outlast a crazy rock-and-roll world, was now just a cliché of middle-aged relationship failure—a male midlife crisis, another woman, a double life,” Gordon writes.
Who hasn’t experienced a nasty breakup? The kind that makes you question your identify since you’re no longer a couple but a rather single person for the first time in a long while. The kind that makes you cringe when someone mentions that other person’s name. The kind that keeps you awake night after night reconstructing a playbook to tell you where it all went wrong. The kind that makes you realize that however cool you may think you are, fact is, he/she left you for someone else. The kind that makes you want to write a memoir like Gordon’s and just get your side out there once and for all.
Creating is the answer when rudderless, Gordon advises. Make something that is your own without any connection to that other person. Find your center again. Take a dare.
Gordon, who has never considered music her life’s passion, is a trained visual artist, and it’s art that she loves passionately. She has shown her work at numerous art galleries, and while art is her primary focus now, that’s not all she has going for her. Instead of languishing in the glory days of Sonic Youth, Gordon started a new band Body/Head with guitarist Bill Nace in 2011, and they have played at festivals around the globe. She also appeared in films and made guest appearances on TV shows such as “Girls”.
Ultimately, Gordon instructs us to move on, to embrace fearlessness, to start living. We may not all play bass or guitar and sing, but we can certainly be a star in our own lives.
“I can still feel in my mind the sensation of making out with someone parked on a hill in front of the Echo Park house,” Gordon writes. “He was a player, I knew that full well, and our good-night kiss turned into a full-on grope.”
Gordon, in Kool Thing fashion, then pulled away from him.
“I know, it sounds like I’m someone else entirely now, and I guess I am,” she concludes.
And, trust me, that isn’t a bad thing, Kim.
Our Kim Gordon-inspired playlist:
Suzi Parker, TBS’ resident mixologist and cultural writer, is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Echo Ellis: Adventures of a Girl Reporter,” “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt” and “1000 Best Bartender’s Recipes.” She writes frequently for The Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, The Daily Beast and numerous other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.
To schedule an interview with Suzi or book her for a speaking engagement, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.