Kim Gordon and the power of female rage

kim-gordon-elsewhere

A friend of mine recently told me the story of his one and only encounter with Kim Gordon. A few summers ago, he was playing with a band on a small European tour; their dates dovetailed around ones Gordon was playing with her then-new band Body/Head. The experimental noise guitar duo had yet to release a full album, but their EP and few shows — combined with the curiosity of seeing what Kim Gordon would do post-Sonic Youth — had people talking. One hot night on a rooftop in Germany, he and his bandmates finally got a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

He watched Gordon drone intermittently over the dissonance coming from the guitars she and bandmate Bill Nace played. It was slow, but built to a furor, Gordon desperately choking out random words and phrases like “the last mistress” as she wailed away on her guitar. When all was said and done, she was spent, barely able to leave the stage without some assistance.

“Wow,” my friend said, slightly confused by what he just watched. “Was she on drugs?”
“No,” one of his bandmates — a woman not much older than Gordon herself — shushed him. “She’s just very, very sad.”

I think about this story a lot. I think about how our anguish can be unleashed in music, and how an emotional release is easily expressed in a melody or a verse, but harder to comprehend in abstract noise.

I think about how Gordon’s feelings were so much easier for a woman to see and understand, while my friend later dismissed it as “college shit.” Of course Gordon was expressing pain, an intricate sort of pain and anger that many women, particularly as they age, could empathize with deeply in their bones. Gordon and her husband of more than 25 years, Thurston Moore, had officially divorced just months earlier. Their split had been messy, humiliating, and disappointing for many who had seen their lasting union as a beacon of hope, leaving them instead with a feeling that their idols had failed them. Her identity had morphed into one half of a couple, and here she was figuring out who she was on her own again.

Of course she was sad. Of course she was angry. And of course her complex grief continued to pour out in a furious manner on stage over the following years.

Read the rest on bed crumbs.