From the founding member of Sonic Youth, a passionate memoir tracing the author's life and art—from his teen years as a music obsessive in small-town Connecticut, to the formation of his legendary rock group, to thirty years of creation, experimentation, and wonder.
Thurston Moore moved to Manhattan’s East Village in 1978 with a yearning for music. He wanted to be immersed in downtown New York’s sights and sounds—the feral energy of its nightclubs, the angular roar of its bands, the magnetic personalities within its orbit. But more than anything, he wanted to make music—to create indelible sounds that would move, provoke, and inspire.
His dream came to life in 1981 with the formation of Sonic Youth, a band Moore cofounded with Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo. Sonic Youth became a fixture in New York’s burgeoning No Wave scene—an avant-garde collision of art and sound, poetry and punk. The band would evolve from critical darlings to commercial heavyweights, headlining festivals around the globe while helping introduce listeners to such artists as Nirvana, Hole, and Pavement, and playing alongside such icons as Neil Young and Iggy Pop. Through it all, Moore maintained an unwavering love of music: the new, the unheralded, the challenging, the irresistible.
In the spirit of Just Kids, Sonic Life offers a window into the trajectory of a celebrated artist and a tribute to an era of explosive creativity. It presents a firsthand account of New York in a defining cultural moment, a history of alternative rock as it was birthed and came to dominate airwaves, and a love letter to music, whatever the form. This is a story for anyone who has ever felt touched by sound—who knows the way the right song at the right moment can change the course of a life.
“Downtown scientists rejoice! For Thurston Moore has unearthed the missing links, the sacred texts, the forgotten stories, and the secret maps of the lost golden age. This is history—scuffed, slightly bent, plenty noisy, and indispensable.” —Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Underground Railroad and Harlem Shuffle
“I thoroughly enjoyed Thurston Moore's trip down the gauntlet of memory lane, dodging beer bottles and pools of blood as he balances the demands of art and survival. Plus I'm a sucker for anyone who name-checks Saccharine Trust. A raw, rollicking document.″ —Nell Zink, author of Avalon and Doxology
“Thurston Moore has always been a great artist, expansive in his knowledge of, and commitment to, new sounds and visions. Now, added to his expert musicianship, are his very real gifts as a memoirist and cultural historian. Filled with wonderful insights about the New York–based cultural landscape that made him, Moore's Sonic Life is essential reading—a moving meditation by a creative force.” —Hilton Als, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of White Girls
“Sonic Youth was the lodestar of alternative rock, pushing boundaries and providing inspiration to a generation of renegade, free-thinking bands. In this candid memoir, Thurston Moore traverses his journey from ardent fan to revolutionary instigator, sharing his love of transgressive soundscapes and finding ever new guitar tunings for his celebration of song.” —Lenny Kaye, guitarist, producer, and author of Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll
“Thurston Moore’s all-embracing memoir Sonic Life works the way Sonic Youth did, with raging appetite for experience, with velocity and nerve, with a total devotion to making art from the resolute stance of starry-eyed fan and unabashed permanent novice. His recall is as amazing as his generosity.” —Jonathan Lethem, National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author of Motherless Brooklyn