As a blogger, there is alot of music that shows up in the mail on a weekly basis. From one sheets, to singles to full length cd’s and records, it stacks up pretty quick and sometimes stuff gets lost in the shuffle. So you can imagine my surprise and interest when I received a book in the mail last month. And not just any book, but a biography about the history of Sonic Youth.
Now, let me preface this by saying that I have never been a big Sonic Youth fan. I have always considered myself an appreciator of their music and a casual fan at best. But seeing as I was headed out of town on a long cross country trip, and had nothing to ready to pass some of the time, this immediately went into my baggage.
I actually ripped through the book pretty fast too, not only because it was an easy ready but it flowed really well, first detailing the personal backgrounds of the bands members and then showing the paths they took until they found each other. Author David Browne sheds light on their humble beginnings as a part of the New York art punk scene and details how they became trendsetters. We also get to watch the band become a group of musicians that, for the most part, had little to no musicial training, turn into of the the most revered bands to come out of NY in the past 20 years.
The band ran with crazy crowds from the early days, but preferred to keep their private lives mostly conservative, with their stage act filling the edgy extreme side of their personalities. What I may have been most impressed with was how, with Geffen Records, Sonic Youth almost served as more of a magnet band for others than a money making machine. Even the best selling SY records were still not considered a huge success by major label standards at the time, so when SY was able to tell bands like Nirvana and Beck that Geffen was “ok”, the label did more than recoup their investment into the New York 4-piece.
The book chronicles everything on a pretty strict timeline, which is part of why its a great flowing read, and also has a wealth of great band photos through the years. And I was totally impressed with how the band mostly did not compromise their art, at all, during the course of a great career that is still ongoing.
I can honestly say that I went from a casual fan to someone anxious to collect their back catalouge after ready this book, and I would recommend you check it out as well.