Originally Posted by Severian
I do not have Sensational Fix, and I'm goddamn ashamed of that fact. Certainly it's an essential for the superfan. I have Goodbye 20th and Confusion and a signed copy of Girl in a Band, but I don't own Sensational Fix. There's something wrong with that.
But I agree about the other books. They weren't, like, god awful, but I've read a lot of Nirvana bios and the like that tend to be sensational and overly dramatic. Not enough emphasis on the stories behind the songs, the time spent in the booth, production and recording decisions, etc. Goodbye 20th kind of had to offer more of this than, say, Heavier than Heaven, or Come As You Are, because at that time SY was an almost entirely drama-free band. No drug abuse woes or other big hot ticket items that people — for some reason — want to hear about more than the actual music. So it was decent in that regard, but I still thought it was a pretty poorly written book. Overly simplistic, and not in a journalistic way... just ... simple. Boring. Not great.
Girl in a Band was the most interesting because of the Kim's personal narrative voice. It was also probably the most well written, to be honest. But you're right, it really wasn't about Sonic Youth. It was about something non-musical in nature, and deeply personal. So, great as it was, it didn't hit the spot for pure SY fanboy reading.
I think they deserve better. A band like that deserves to have a massive literary presence, and a slew of thoughtful, intelligent biographies to pick from. The Beatles have this kind of library. Even Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground has a pretty damn good selection of bios to choose from. Sonic Youth deserves no less.
I've probably transcended the title of "super fan" because I've been to Echo Canyon West. I am a bit of an avid collector of mostly Sonic Youth music (I own several of their albums in more than one format (including original pressings).
I have two signed copies of Girl In A Band
, and I reread certain sections borderline religiously on an almost daily basis. I love the book and I am so glad Kim wrote it. I thoughrougly enjoyed reading about her pre-Sonic Youth life.
It took me a while to get a hold of Sensational Fix
because it is not a cheap book. Is it worth the cost? Absolutely, in my opinion. There are some great photographs and articles in it. Kim said in an interview that pretty much all Sonic Youth books except for Sensational Fix
are awful, and I don't agree with that 100% (pun intended), but they leave a lot to be desired. There are also several inaccuracies in each Confusion Is Next
and Goodbye 20th Century
. The only one that I can think of off the top of my head in the latter is the author wrote that Kim was born on April 23rd. A simple error like that makes me question whether I regard most of the rest of the book as fact.
Nirvana and Sonic Youth are my favorite bands of all-time. I've read my share of the books about Nirvana and Cobain, but I only trust Come As You Are
by Michael Azerrad because though not perfect, it came out while Kurt was alive. I'm at least somewhat skeptical of any literature that came out after his death because a lot of their history has been muddled due to either relying too much on the mythology and not who Kurt really was. He said in an interview that he was interested to hear how his fans interpreted his lyrics and to my knowledge never explained his songs in depth. He's been gone for so long now I don't think there will ever be any definite answers about his life and music, but that is why the world is still fascinated by him, even in death.
Sonic Youth has a very underrepresented literary presence which is kind of ironic because of how intellectual and well-read Kim, Lee and especially Thurston are. I think it's part because some music historians don't know how to "treat" Sonic Youth because they are unlike any band before, after and from their time.