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The Pop Life,
This review is from: Bedsit Disco Queen: How I grew up and tried to be a pop star (Kindle Edition)
Tracey Thorn's career has followed a very unique trajectory, unlike any other pop act, and she documents it with acerbic wit and candour in this immensely readable book. Thorn's early teens sees her morph into a new-born punk aficionado that leads to her joining an amateur all-male band as the token girl who could only sing from inside a closet. She goes on to set up an all-girl band Marine Girls, with their ironically twee anti-rock anthems, and enjoys a brief turn as a solo artist with an eight-track album she records in a shed. She finally meets her lifelong partner Ben Watt, a labelmate in a fledgling record company, with whom she becomes Everything But the Girl, the group which she has almost been ubiquitously associated with for almost three decades, and to finally become a solo artist again.
What is immediately evident from the first few pages of this memoir of sorts is how naturally Thorn transposes her immense talent as a lyricist into that of a bonafide prose writer. There is a certain elegance in her writing that makes you identify her immediately as the real deal, and not a glamorous pop diva who is keen to paint a poignant rags-to-riches picture of herself. Instead, what the reader gets is an honest and at times humorously self-effacing account of her uncertain foray into the music world, and the exciting yet perilous journey that ensues.
The reader celebrates with her when EBTG scores their first hit single "Each and Everyone", and sympathises when people lumps them with the lite/nu-jazz movement when they were trying so hard to protest (albeit quietly), and when they are finally dumped by their record company for not being the kind of pop band they thought they were, and is encouraged by a sense of providence when they win their biggest hit "Missing" to date almost immediately after that happens. Thorn's modesty comes through in the way she tells of how she never felt EBTG fitted into the whole pop circus. For example, though pop stars in their own right, Thorn still gets starstruck and speechless when Courtney Love scoots over the stage when recording a programme to tell her she loved her work with the Marine Girls and that the late Kurt Cobain had been one of their fans.
As a longtime fan of both her work with EBTG and as a solo artist, it was a special treat to read the lyrics of songs interspersed at the ends of chapters, which gave a fresh insight into the context of those familiar songs which I had loved and lines that I had sung along to over the years. They defined for me the term "singer-songwriter", because Thorn's lyrics were often as personal as diary entries.
A definite must-read for any EBTG/Tracey Thorn fan.