Unhappy Valentine’s Day: Kim Gordon’s Break-Up Playlist
10:12 am


Kim Gordon

The break-up of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore in 2011 caused an amount of dismay and grief normally reserved for fictional characters or mentally deficient royals splitting. What was interesting and somewhat surprising was the music Kim turned to for comfort in the aftermath. She told Elle,  “Rap music is really good when you’re traumatized.”

Not country revenge songs about cheating in which someone gets shot? Not Nick Cave’s “Your Funeral and My Trial,” Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, or a single song from Frank Sinatra’s Only The Lonely album?

For others, the only things that helped them through the first stages of a broken heart are copious amounts of alcohol, gallons of ice cream, Patsy Cline, early Kiss albums, Dio, or The MBD Band’s Hot ‘N Sticky. For Kim, it was old school and new rap.

Having her share her break-up playlist is like having Brian Greene explain the Higgs boson, Richard Stallman expound on software liberty, or Henry Rollins talk about self-reliance (or list his twenty favorite punk albums). It’s time to pull up a chair.

Kim and Thurston’s wedding day, 1984. Do you feel doomed yet?

Kim Gordon’s “Traumatized Good Time Tunes,” as told to Refinery 29 after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Kim Gordon’s video love letter to Danceteria, early 1980s
08:12 am


Kim Gordon

Here we have a fascinating artifact from an unquestionably fascinating artist, Kim Gordon. It’s an 11-minute video called “Making the Nature Scene” that pretty much perfectly blends music, video, and text to create a kind of high-minded no-wave manifesto dedicated to the pressing subject of, well, using video in nightclubs.

Consisting of little more than a handful of slow pans across the fabled Danceteria, the entropic tinkling of experimental and pop music, and some hastily penned video text, “Making the Nature Scene” honestly looks like it was thrown together in little more than a weekend. The quasi-Ballardian text, which is also highly Warhol-influenced (and indeed, mentions Warhol twice), frequently confuses “its” and “it’s” and generally does great violence to apostrophes, something that will surely drive Richard up the wall.

In a more serious vein, the sheer chilliness of it all is a sobering reminder of how “cool” things were in the early 1980s. All that concentrated energy and thought to defend the validity of using video…. we have it better now. Art and creativity are no longer so sequestered; it’s hard to imagine that a young person today with any kind of resources wouldn’t be able to find or justify this or that injection of anarchic expression in whatsoever context he or she desired, whether it be a cheerleading session, a haystack, a magnet board, a collection of 1940s postcards, or an expanse in a Home Depot. You’ll find it all on Vine, right?

We leave you with a brief reminiscence from Kim Gordon about Danceteria and then, the video itself:

Mike Gira, from the Swans was someone I knew from art school and we used to hang out with him. I remember hanging out with him at this club Danceteria and Madonna was around. She was sort of sitting on his lap kissing him but then looking around the room for her next move Or whatever… But when her first record came out we thought it was cool because it was such minimal dance music and it was sort of lo fi.



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Literary Youth: Kim Gordon to publish two books, make cameo on HBO’s ‘Girls’
07:28 am


Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon has reportedly begun writing her autobiography—just one of two books she will be publishing soon, the second will focus on her writing for art magazines in the 80s. She’s also slated to appear in the third season of HBO’s Girls. Via NME:

Set to be titled Girl In A Band and published by HarperCollins, it will “chronicle her choice to leave Los Angeles in the early ’80s for the post-punk scene in New York City, where she formed Sonic Youth”. Gordon was a member of the iconic group from their foundation in 1981 until 2011, when the band went on hiatus after her separation from bandmate and husband Thurston Moore. She has since formed a new band, Body/Head, with Vampire Belt member Bill Nace.

Another book due to be released by Sternberg Press will collate essays the musician wrote for art and culture magazines in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Gordon is also exhibiting a retrospective of her own visual art at New York gallery White Columns. The exhibition features her work from 1980 right through to 2013 and, according to the gallery’s own website, “a new limited-edition vinyl solo recording by Kim Gordon will accompany the exhibition, and a publication anthologizing Gordon’s activities as an artist will follow in the fall.”

The world of book publishing isn’t entirely new for Ms. Gordon. In the mid Oughts she released Chronicles, Vol.1 and Vol. 2, and another artist’s book, Performing/Guzzling, followed in 2010.

Body/Head’s Coming Apart album is released today

Below, Body/Head (Kim Gordon and Bill Nace) at Kunstencentrum, Belgium on February 24th 2012.

The good Reverend Gordon marries Rufus and Lily on Gossip Girl:

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Plentiful new Sonic Youth product despite total lack of extant Sonic Youth
11:48 am


Sonic Youth
Kim Gordon
Thurston Moore
Lee Ranaldo

Despite the massively influential band’s breakup (or hiatus - it’s never been made clear) a year and a half ago, Sonic Youth fans have had no shortage of releases to keep us happy. This autumn in particular is rife with opportunity.

As reported in The Independent and elsewhere, Sonic Youth bassist/singer Kim Gordon and experimental guitarist Bill Nace will release their collaborative album Coming Apart under the band name Body/Head on Tuesday, September 10th. Dates for a short tour are listed on their web site, and “Actress,” a song from the album, has been released to YouTube.

Meanwhile, guitarist Lee Ranaldo has also been a very very busy SY, having released last summer’s lovely, droney album On Jones Beach with Glacial, and he’s now on the cusp of dropping Last Night On Earth, the second release from his band The Dust. (Their first, Between the Times and the Tides, was released in March of 2012.) There’s long been a dismissive “Oh, it’s a Lee song” attitude among a certain camp within SY’s fandom, but if you’re in that cohort, seriously, listen to “Lecce, Leaving” all the way through and tell me it’s not awesome: 

One of Thurston Moore’s multiple projects post-SY, Chelsea Light Moving, has announced a fall tour as well, though their album has been available since spring. Dates listed on Matador Records’ blog are different from those on the band’s home page, so probably best to confirm appearances with the venue nearest you. Along with Moore, the band features Hush Arbors’ main man Keith Wood and multi-instrumentalist Samara Lubelski.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Kim Gordon’s open letter to Karen Carpenter

Karen and Kim
Of course, most Sonic Youth fans are aware that the 1990 song, “Tunic (Song for Karen),” is a not exactly transparent reference to Karen Carpenter, the honey-voiced chanteuse and easy-listening icon. Kim Gordon’s trademark disaffected delivery feels almost sardonic, as she pleas, “I feel like I’m disappearing - getting smaller every day, but I look in the mirror - I’m bigger in every way”  a reference to Carpenter’s tragic 1983 death from complications related to anorexia nervosa.

In fact, Gordon was a giant Carpenters fan, and the song is completely earnest. Explaining the lyrics 20 years later, Gordon professed,

I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t. Also I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine. When people come and ask me about being famous or whatever and I don’t feel that, it’s not me. But it makes me think about it. The music is definitely about the darker side. But I also wanted to liberate Karen into heaven

Below is an open letter written by Gordon to Karen (date unknown), reprinted from the Sonic Youth biography, Sonic Youth: Sensational Fix:

Dear Karen,

Thru the years of The Carpenters TV specials I saw you change from the Innocent Oreo-cookie-and-milk-eyed girl next door to hollowed eyes and a lank body adrift on a candy-colored stage set. You and Richard, by the end, looked drugged—there’s so little energy. The words come out of yr mouth but yr eyes say other things, “Help me, please, I’m lost in my own passive resistance, something went wrong. I wanted to make myself disappear from their control. My parents, Richard, the writers who call me ‘hippie, fat.’ Since I was, like most girls, brought up to be polite and considerate, I figured no one would notice anything wrong—as long as, outwardly, I continued to do what was expected of me. Maybe they could control all the outward aspects of my life, but my body is all in my control. I can make myself smaller. I can disappear. I can starve myself to death and they won’t know it. My voice will never give me away. They’re not my words. No one will guess my pain. But I will make the words my own because I have to express myself somehow. Pain is not perfect so there is no place in Richard’s life for it. I have to be perfect too. I must be thin so I’m perfect. Was I a teenager once?... I forget. Now I look middle-aged, with a bad perm and country-western clothes.”

I must ask you, Karen, who were your role models? Was it yr mother? What kind of books did you like to read? Did anyone ever ask you that question—what’s it like being a girl in music? What were yr dreams? Did you have any female friends or was it just you and Richard, mom and dad, A&M? Did you ever go running along the sand, feeling the ocean rush up between yr legs? Who is Karen Carpenter, really, besides the sad girl with the extraordinarily beautiful, soulful voice?

your fan – love,


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Just how beautiful was Karen Carpenter’s voice? Listen to her isolated vocal tracks and find out

Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988

Via Letters of Note

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No One’s Little Girls: The Raincoats were Kurt Cobain’s favorite band
01:11 pm


Kurt Cobain
Kim Gordon
The Raincoats

Although I grew up in the punk era, it was really the post-punk stuff that turned my crank, and still does. During that time there were countless odd ephemeral little bands (including one I was in for 15 minutes) that not only stood no chance of widespread popularity, it never even occurred to them that they could be popular or that they should try to make some real money out of their music. It was almost more about doing something that other creative people in bands would take notice of. Why things were like that for a brief and shining moment I really can’t say, though part of it was the way economics worked then: If you didn’t need a lot of stuff, you could sorta get by with very little bread and spend a lot of your time hangin’ out and, occasionally, working out your musical ideas. Those days, of course, were forcibly crash-landed by Reagan & Thatcher, but for a narrow window of time there was some really incredible musical creativity made by folks who wanted to do something interesting.

One of the obscure little bands I was into was called The Raincoats, and I never saw a review of any of their albums, never saw a video and never saw a photo of them (all the albums I or anyone I knew had only had paintings on the covers). Although they seemed to be a mostly female band, I don’t think that thought really explicitly occurred to me back then: They just made this jangly, repetitive-but-catchy music with weird, often miserable lyrics sung for the most part “unprofessionally” (and as a punk that “unprofessional” bit really made it sound authentic to me). But something about it rung true to my ears and to my small circle of friends as well. We’d sit in dark rooms smoking hashish, listening to The Raincoats and just…abide, though not Cali-style: This was New York City style, complete with cold crummy weather and/or pouring rain.

Little did I know, then, that others were also huddled in dark places around the country, and around the world, listening to The Raincoats as if their music was a tiny little fire with which we’d warm our hands. Never having been a Nirvana fan (though I do appreciate their unique sound), I didn’t know that Kurt Cobain had helped to get their albums reissued on CD and had written this about them:

“..I don’t really know anything about The Raincoats except that they recorded some music that has affected me so much that, whenever I hear it I’m reminded of a particular time in my life when I was (shall we say) extremely unhappy, lonely, and bored. If it weren’t for the luxury of putting that scratchy copy of The Raincoats’ first record, I would have had very few moments of peace. I suppose I could have researched a bit of history about the band but I feel it’s more important to delineated the way I feel and how they sound. When I listen to The Raincoats I feel as if I’m a stowaway in an attic, violating and in the dark. Rather than listening to them I feel like I’m listening in on them. We’re together in the same old house and I have to be completely still or they will hear me spying from above and, if I get caught - everything will be ruined because it’s their thing.”

Meanwhile, Kim Gordon had this to say about The Raincoats:

It was The Raincoats I related to most. They seemed like ordinary people playing extraordinary music. Music that was natural that made room for cohesion of personalities. They had enough confidence to be vulnerable and to be themselves without having to take on the mantle of male rock/punk rock aggression…or the typical female as sex symbol avec irony or sensationalism.

Listening to The Raincoats I didn’t get the sense that I was listening in to a message from women to other women. They were just singing bluntly and honestly about their lives (which had patches of light but plenty of patches of rain too), and we listeners scattered in our dark places related to that. Though probably their best-known song is “Shouting Out Loud,” my favorite tune of theirs was always “I Saw a Hill” from Moving. Listen through to the finale and tell me this doesn’t kick your ass and point straight and unwaveringly at that hidden woman that you keep (be ye male or female) deep down inside and that until this moment you were absolutely sure no one could possibly identify:

The Raincoats’ stellar cover of “Lola” by The Kinks:

Below, seldom-seen footage of The Raincoats performing “Go Away” and “No Side to Fall In” in 1982.

Posted by Em | Leave a comment
Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988

Here’s an interesting interview with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, shot on a roof in downtown Manhattan in 1988. This footage is completely raw and unedited, with cuts and sound interruptions intact. As such, it takes Kim a couple of minutes to get into the swing of things, but she talks about life as a woman in a rock’n’roll band, art, sex, playing bass, her projects Harry Crews (with Lydia Lunch) and Ciccone Youth, and she reads extracts from a book called So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star. The interview is about 20 minutes long and is split into two parts.


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Kool Thing: Kim Gordon on her divorce from Thurston Moore and breast cancer
10:45 am


Sonic Youth
Kim Gordon

Vintage shot of Kim Gordon via Suicide Watch

There’s a fascinating must-read short profile of Kim Gordon in this month’s Elle by Lizzy Goodman. In it, the Sonic Youth co-founder discusses being single again at the still Sonically Youthful age of 59, divvying up those pop culture treasures she and Thurston Moore must’ve amassed over the years and her breast cancer treatment:

“We have all these books, records, and art and are getting it all assessed; that’s what is taking so long,” she says after ordering a glass of rosé. But both have moved on. Among her suitors are a restaurateur, an architect, and an actor. “It’s just weird,” Gordon says of navigating new romance. “I can’t tell what’s normal.” And Moore has regularly been seen with the same woman, fueling the rumor that his affair helped doom their marriage. “We seemed to have a normal relationship inside of a crazy world,” Gordon says of her marriage. “And in fact, it ended in a kind of normal way—midlife crisis, starstruck woman.”

Some years ago, a woman Gordon declines to name became a part of the Sonic Youth world, first as the girlfriend of an erstwhile band member and later as a partner on a literary project with Moore. Eventually, Gordon discovered a text message and confronted him about having an affair. They went to counseling, but he kept seeing the other woman. “We never got to the point where we could just get rid of her so I could decide what I wanted to do,” Gordon says. “Thurston was carrying on this whole double life with her. He was really like a lost soul.” Moore moved out. Gordon stayed home and listened to a lot of hip-hop. “Rap music is really good when you’re traumatized,” she says.

The first few months were rough. “It did feel like every day was different,” she recalls. “It’s a huge, drastic change.” But slowly things improved. She adjusted to the framework of semisingle parenthood. (Coco, their only child, is now a freshman at a Chicago art school.) Gordon kept their colonial filled with friends—a musician, a poet, and Moore’s adult niece, with whom Gordon has remained very close. “Sometimes I cook dinner and just invite whomever,” she says of her improvised family life. “Everyone helps out a bit with the dogs. It’s a big house. It’s nice to have people around.” Things were stabilizing. Then Gordon was found to have a noninvasive form of breast cancer called DCIS. “I’m fine; it’s literally the best you can have,” she says of her diagnosis, which required a lumpectomy. “I didn’t do radiation or anything, but I was like, Okay, what else is going to happen to me?”

Read more at Elle.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Kim Gordon

Today is Kim Gordon’s birthday - founder member of Sonic Youth and Free Kitten, producer, actress, designer, director, all round one of the coolest people in rock’n'roll. Here’s a few clips in celebration -  any excuse to post about Kim or Sonic Youth on DM is worth it.

Kim Gordon reads the Riot Grrrl Manifesto

Kim Gordon talks to about her label X-Girl, shopping in New York and working with Chloe Sevigny.

More Kim Gordon after the jump…

Previously on DM:
Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988
More late 80s Sonic youth interviews
‘1991: The Year Punk Broke” Classic alt-rock documentary

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment