BEDSIT DISCO QUEEN: HOW I GREW UP AND TRIED TO BE A POPSTAR
BY TRACEY THORN
I suspect that like a lot of people, I like Tracey Thorn “a bit.” I bought her hits with Everything But The Girl – ‘Missing’ and‘Walking Wounded’ and her collaboration with Massive Attack on ‘Protection,’ but that’s as close as I get to being a fan.
So why read her life story? Well I like any insight into the backstage world of pop stardom. At the age of 34 I still secretly harbour dreams to be a singer in a popular group and I cannot see how it can be anything less than the perfect lifestyle.
But of course it is. In Tracey’s intensely warm, readable and personal account she shares the highs of the unexpected resurrection and hit singles with her partner Ben Watt as EBTG, to the lows of being written off by critics and their struggle through Ben’s crippling illness.
I can see why this book from one of our more understated and maybe underappreciated artists became a Sunday Times bestseller. Part memoir, part social commentary, we are led on a gripping journey through the last few decades of the music industry. It feels like she’s telling us all about it over a pot of tea and plate of biscuits round the kitchen table.
Like Morrissey’s Autobiography, her early years are the best to read, full of exciting nostalgia and obsessions with boys, bands and fashion. As with so many of her generation, it is Punk that then sparks her into life and she soon forms the promising Marine Girls who go on to become favourites of Kurt Cobain.
Tracey meets Ben at university and they soon form EBTG. There followed peaks and troughs of worldwide success and parochial criticism. She still recalls how they were often dismissed as “soppy wimps, wallowing in easy listening blandness, making jazz tinged soft rock background music for bed-wetters.”
Stuff them! I’d have said if I could count Paul Weller, Morrissey, Jeff Buckley and Cobain among my fans, as they could.
This book is a really good read for music fans. At times she came across as pious and drippy and having failed to enjoy the good times when they came. But then at turns she is an extremely likeable human, feminist, left winger with deep roots in the punk ethos.
The books final chapters cover her early retirement from the music game, they have children and Ben turns to DJ-ing. She casts off at the perfect point, feeling content on the verge of an upward curve into well received solo albums.
A really good story of how she grew up and became a popstar.
SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 7.5/10
Notes on the author – Tracey Thorn
- Born in 1962 in Hatfield, Herts
- Her first band, formed in 1979, were called The Stern Bops. She then joined the Marine Girls before forming Everything But The Girl with partner Ben Watts
- Tracey and Ben married in 2009. They have 3 children and live in North London