Required Reading: Girl in a Band
Last year I read Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” and I’m currently getting into Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”. Non-fiction literature has been pretty awesome at exposing readers to powerful female voices lately, with so many women opening up about their experiences. I couldn’t have been more excited when I recently heard Kim Gordon’s interview on NPR about her new memoir, “GIrl in a Band”.
I first saw Sonic Youth play in concert when I was 17. It was after having watched Richard Linklater’s SubUrbia, which featured the band in the soundtrack, that I became so interested in their unique sound. During their live shows, my eyes were always drawn to Kim Gordon, the bassist/singer. Women in the alternative music scene were especially rare back then, and she had this way of performing… she came off as shy and mysterious, but at the same time was so self-assured and feminine that I forgot about the other members sharing the stage
As someone who was learning to play the bass throughout my teens, I mimicked men in terms of my attitude, clothing and hobbies. Most musicians were male, and it felt like the only way to be part of that scene. I tried to skateboard, wore unflattering punk shirts and adopted an almost “macho” persona, which I mistook for confidence. Kim Gordon made me realize a very important thing as a young woman: You don’t have to pretend to be a guy to be in a band. You can still be you. Seeing her twirl on stage while playing bass in vintage dresses quickly turned her into a role model and style icon of mine.
I can’t wait to read her memoir and get to know her. From interviews I’ve seen or read, she never sounds like she’s trying to be anyone but herself. I just wish my teenage self could have learned that a little sooner.