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Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth Hardcover – May 27, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681515X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306815157
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anchored by the married couple of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, and propelled by democratically distributed experiments from all four group members, underground music icons Sonic Youth, as chronicled by Browne in his compulsively readable new biography, are a model for how to sustain a career in the burnout-friendly world of rock music. Browne traces each phase of the band's career with the easy, anecdotal grace of an accomplished journalist: he sketches each band member's youth and initiation into the New York music scene, provides accounts of the years of day jobs and thrifty recording sessions, and gives a play-by-play account of the band's courting by labels following the independent success of the album Daydream Nation. The book is most engaging in its middle third, an in-depth account of the band's initial struggles and successes at Geffen, their major label home for the past two decades of their career. While Browne succeeds at capturing the personalities and debates that shape the band's character, at times the author's engagement with the band's actual music is not as incisive or comprehensive as it could be. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"[Browne] found a neat narrative to work with, charting the group's determinedly paced journey from under populated gigs in the arty early-'80s downtown scene to its brush with alt-rock fame in the mid '90s to its current status as an inspiration to a nation of young experimentalists."--"Time Out New York""Browne takes a conventional approach to the story of an unconventional band...His relatively objective approach acknowledges the band's impact on popular and underground culture without descending into the obnoxious sentimentality that characterizes so much of rock journalism...[His] writing style provides the necessary information about the band's history without exploiting their coolness, critical acclaim, or personal traumas."--"VenusZine"

Customer Reviews

This is the only SY book I've ever read.
Rich L.
It's extremely well researched and the writing is accessible and lively.
Crescenzo C. Capece
This book is a fine breakdown of the history of Sonic Youth.
The Mighty Tyrone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Crescenzo C. Capece on June 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting a long time for a big, in-depth bio of one of music's most interesting,enduring and influential bands, and Browne's book certainly delivered the goods. He covers all aspects of the band--childhoods, early days and apartments in New York, recording sessions, the dynamics within the band, their ups and downs and conflicts with their record companies and managers, the whole Lollapalooza experience, and personal lives. I had no idea Kim's high school boyfriend was Danny Elfman or that there was a showdown within the band during the "Dirty" sessions. It's extremely well researched and the writing is accessible and lively. If you're a fan, you have to read this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Levy on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A great biography about one of the greatest American bands.
I consider myself quit an expert when it come to Sonic Youth, nevertheless this book surprised me with all the rich information the author has gathered (Very impressive research including interviews and pictures from all the people who were involved in the Sonic Youth story).

The book is well written and leaves you with wet eyes in the end. It tells the story of ordinary people who had dream, some of those dreams were achieved some of the were not.

It is a must read to any sonic youth fan and to anyone who consider himself an alternative/rock/punk/indie music fan.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Meyer on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book does an excellent job of describing in detail the relationships between the people in this great band, and the many people they've worked with in their 25+ years together.

My only complaint is that the author occasionally gets some glaring facts wrong. He claims that the SST in SST Records stands for "Solid State Tuners" (it stands for Solid State Transmitters); and makes passing mention of an early associate of the band moving to San Francisco to attend Berklee College of Music (which is located in Boston). These are basic, easily verifiable facts, and I'm kind of amazed that they weren't caught by someone who read it between the rough draft and the actual printing.

Does this ruin the book? No, because the mistakes don't actually alter the course of events as the book describes them. They do, however, cause me to doubt the book's accuracy in general, and I can't help but wonder if there were other more consequential mistakes that flew right over my head.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Hamburg on December 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There is one specific review so far that is very, very wrong. It could be that this person did not read the whole book; I'm not a mind reader. This review claims something along the lines of "there is no new material in this book than there was in Confusion is Next: The Sonic Youth Story by Alec Foege." Confusion was released in 1994. There were six Sonic Youth studio albums released after 1994, not including side projects and production credit. There was another member of Sonic Youth who was added and left after 1994. I could go further, but the main point is, this review is utterly ridiculous.

This book was fantastic. It really gives you a clear window to the indie scene over a 25 year period. The best thing about this book, however, is all of the fine examples of the bands and artists and people who started their career and friendships with Sonic Youth, and with their help, broke into mainstream.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tourniquetspun on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you like what Sonic Youth is all about, you'll like it more after reading this book. This book is unique in bringing the lives of Sonic Youth members' lives to the reader. It's a must-have, must-read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery G. Schmitz on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book it was far from an ass kissing biography - very often the members of SY are portrayed very realistically and not as gods. The insight into the Lydia Lunch days was very interesting and its a nice steady build up to "the year punk broke". I can imagine it was very much like your baby brother getting elected president having Nirvana blow up so big however their music was much more populist than SYs (at least Nevermind and In Utero) I would suggest anyone who is a Sonic Youth fan check this out for sure as there is lots of minutia that a true SY nerd would drool over. I met Thurston this year at SXSW and he was really cool. The Mark Arm (Mudhoney) quotes are hilarious about Marc Jacobs designing expensive "grunge" clothes..that is a total embarrassment I must say he was spot on that was stupid as hell. Cheers
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By endsng on May 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am really enjoying this book. It's very interesting, and being thorough does NOT make it a boring read. It's nice to read a biography about such a talented band. It's nice that their story is about musical creativity, and not about drug and alcohol abuse. That's the stuff that gets boring after a while.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Mighty Tyrone on August 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a fine breakdown of the history of Sonic Youth. The pictures are worth it too.
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