Monday, October 31, 2011

Splitting (Hairs) - Sonic Youth

The future of Sonic Youth is in doubt, I gather, because members Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon have ended their decades-long marriage, and history shows that interpersonal tensions immediately and irrevocably destroy every single band they touch (e.g., these doomed fellows, and these, these -- may they R.I.P. -- and these among so many others). There's no way around it: music dies the instant two people in the room aren't getting along harmoniously.

But really, it's not about them, it's about us, or the music industry, or marriage, or something, as Amanda Marcotte almost explains:

I want to write a little about the news that Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth---who have been married for 27 years---are throwing in the towel. Well, not the news itself, because even though they're public figures, this is obviously a private matter and none of us are privy to the particulars of their situation. In fact, I'm a little uneasy discussing it at all ...
Marcotte's unease manifests in ~1100 more words dissecting the Gordon-Moore marriage and its manifold implications for music, the music industry, and the institution of marriage in these uncertain times. How many words would ease have produced?

No piece of writing on Sonic Youth is complete without several repetitions of AOL keyword "Indie," a case in point being Matthew Fiander's encomium to Sonic Youth's Indie-ness, as somehow exemplified in their first non-Indie-but-still-so-heroically-Indie album, Goo:
On the heels of the acclaim for 1988's Daydream Nation, one of the most celebrated rock albums of the last 25 years, Sonic Youth went looking for a major label. They had been indie rock trailblazers, cranking out classic record like Sister and EVOL on SST, the rocker's rock label, and now they'd be on, gulp, DGC? How this happened has much to do with Enigma Records, the label that (aligned with EMI and Capitol) screwed up the distribution of Daydream Nation ...
Gulp indeed. It's not clear to me how "Enigma Records (aligned with EMI and Capitol)" was "Indie" in a way that DGC (gulp!) is not, but then again, I am already tired of the next twelve pieces of writing that use the word "Indie," or in other words, the eleven after this one.

To his credit, Fiander gets back on track to the extent that the bulk of his piece celebrates the songs of Goo, specifically "Tunic (Song for Karen)," a song so layered and brilliant that we can hardly have deserved it for having been the people walking around with stereos and spare cash when it appeared. Should Sonic Youth stop making music, it is on the basis of such works that they will be deeply missed by those of us who don't count the band members or music industry functionaries in our personal circles, but who appreciate challenging, evocative music:


Mike said...

Dale, David Lee Roth once said,"All bands that are together for more than ten summers are destined to hate each other." I suppose the intensity of the lifestyle takes a toll. Throw marriage in there and it's amazing parnterships last as long as they do.

ReservoirHill said...

The proper link to "Why the Sonic Youth news isn’t as bad as we fear" is:

Good story with good insights on the interpersonal tensions that cause groups to break up.

Best regards from one of your "remaining three readers"

Hugh Pickens

Dale said...

RH, thanks for the correction.