Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon Inspired by Philip Dick & Other Dystopian Writers

girilinabandcoverIn her memoir, Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon explained the inspiration to name Sonic Youth’s album Sister and lyrics to a song in her band’s subsequent album Daydream Nation.

Gordon, 63, was a singer and bassist for the band Sonic Youth, which hailed from New York City and eventually split sometime in 2011. Between 1983 and 2011 the band released 16 studio albums.

Among them include Sister and Daydream Nation, the band’s fourth and fifth albums respectively, which had inspirations from writers such as Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and Denis Johnson.

Shortly before the release of Sister in 1987, Gordon wrote in her book that she and her then-husband and bandmate, Thurston Moore, had been reading science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

“Philip Dick had a twin sister who died shortly after she was born and whose memory plagued him his whole life–which is maybe how and why our new album ended up being called Sister,” Gordon wrote. “We never decided this, of course; everything between us always had an air of undiscussed ambiguity about it.”

For the song “The Sprawl,” of Daydream Nation, Gordon has said she got the title from William Gibson’s novel, Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third book of the author’s trilogy known as “The Sprawl,” according to the band’s website. The website also provides a note that part of the song’s lyrics are based on the novel The Stars at Noon, a book by Denis Johnson.

But, Gordon provided a specific answer in her memoir to what book inspired the song.

fiskadoroIn chapter 27 of her memoir, Gordon wrote that she had read one of Denis Johnson’s books titled Fiskadoro, a book that she described as “a haze-filled dream world of a novel about the survivors of nuclear fallout attempting to rebuild their lives and society.”

“The whole time I was writing [“The Sprawl], I was thinking back on what it felt like being a teenager in Southern California, paralyzed by the still, unending sprawl of L.A., feeling all alone on the sidewalk, the pavement’s plainness so dull and ugly it almost made me nauseous, the sun and good weather so assembly-line unchanging it made my whole body tense,” she wrote. “The nutmeg headband of smog floating above my hometown reminded me of Fiskadoro, as if L.A. were already surviving its own nuclear fallout.”

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Filed under Denis Johnson, Philip Dick, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson

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