Married Sonic Youth cofounders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon are calling it quits after 27 years of marriage, and the wispy-eyed Gen Xers who grew up listening to them are pretty broken up about it. Those two were like Mickie and Minnie, Bonnie and Clyde, John and Yoko, Al and Tipper--they were the indie rock generation's ultimate couple! What's more painful to devoted fans is the uncertain future of the band, which is about to start a small tour in South America. It's not clear where exactly things went wrong for Moore and Gordon, but for now, people seem less concerned with performing an autopsy of the relationship than with jumping straight to the tear-filled memorial service. From mixtape remembrances to heart-wrenching eulogies, this is how the Sonic Youth generation is mourning.
Jon Dolan, rock critic at Rolling Stone, started off his blog post at Grantland about the break with a harsh "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" (emphasis his) and goes on to wonder what else could go wrong:
The coolness and longevity of their relationship--and the band it foregrounded--was a natural fact and easily one of the most admirable institutions in rock history. They're in their fifties, they have a seventeen year-old daughter. What the hell! If this is possible, nothing is off the table: Michelle Bachman taking the Oath of Office, high ratings for the NHL, get ready, here they come. Confusion is next, as Sonic Youth sang in 19-fucking-83.
Gordon and Moore were the couple who showed us how to remain artists, have a kid, and even how to get the hell of out of New York. (Northampton, Massachusetts, is their main home.)
Caryn Ganz, the editor-in-chief of SPIN, compared the split to R.E.M.'s recent break-up and like many other bloggers, pointed to this heart-wrenching passage from a 2008 interview with the couple in her magazine:
You have a famously great marriage, which is virtually unheard of for a rock star, particularly when the spouse is also a bandmate. What's your secret?
There's no secret. We've never sold each other out on anything. I can easily follow the allure of wanting to go out and be with the boys, and play industrial noise and smoke pot and drink, but nothing replaces the reality of our relationship. I can't trade that for anything. I can't think of how or where I'd be without Kim's influence. And we're like any couple that's been together for close to 30 years. There's a genuine psychophysical connection. Sometimes I feel things happening in me, and I know that something's going on with her. When you're married and you have that kind of connection, you become really spiritually, psychologically connected. We grew up together, in a way.
Rob Sheffield, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and author of Love Is a Mix Tape, remembers the first and last time he heard a favorite Sonic Youth song and provides a sobering explanation about why everyone is so broken up:
For all but a tiny minority of Sonic Youth fans, part of loving them is vicariously over-identifying with the Kim-and-Thurston bond, as these two psychic hearts explored screaming fields of sonic love. So we all spent the weekend suffering "don't you remember you told me you loved me baby AAARRRGH NOOO" spasms. Most fans probably felt a little guilty for how personally we took the sad news, but that's just because we owe them a lot.