Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon on Neil Young’s ‘Out of My Mind’
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Kim Gordon has a new autobiography titled Girl in a Band: A Memoir which chronicles her career as the bassist, vocalist and founding member (with now ex-husband Thurston Moore) the ground breaking band Sonic Youth.
Many Neil Young fans first encountered Sonic Youth as an opening act during Crazy Horse's WELD Tour in 1992. In an interview in Wall St. Journal by Marc Myers, Kim Gordon discusses finding refuge in Neil Young's Buffalo Springfield song ‘Out of My Mind’:
Kim Gordon: When I was 14 in the late 1960s, I’d spend hours alone listening to my albums. I loved Buffalo Springfield’s first album, especially Neil Young ’s “Out of My Mind.”
We lived in West Los Angeles—the flat, boring part—and through the music I grew fascinated with the Laurel Canyon scene, where many folk-rock musicians had homes. I had a friend who lived up there, but the houses were all tucked away and inaccessible to me, and I was too young to go to the clubs on the Sunset Strip. So all I had were the albums. I related to the Springfield’s sound—the melancholy melodies, tight harmonies and lyrics with meaning.
As a teen, I often painted in my bedroom as I listened to “Out of My Mind.” The song seemed to be about the alienation of success—how you could become detached from your original community and become screwed up if you couldn’t handle it: “All I hear are screams / from outside the limousines / That are taking me / out of my mind / Through the keyhole / in an open door.”
Back in the ’80s, when I was touring with Sonic Youth, we opened for Neil. I never told him about how much I liked “Out of My Mind.” I was too much in awe of him. Now I wish I had asked him about the song’s meaning.
About eight years ago I rediscovered the song. I live in Western Massachusetts now and hate the winters. Relistening to the music was partly California nostalgia, but I also developed a new appreciation for the song’s craft. Neil’s vulnerability and authentic sound haven’t changed much. As a nonsinger, I relate to that.
I’ve never tried to sing “Out of My Mind,” even by myself at home. Several years ago I did use the song’s lyrics to make a series of word paintings with metallic watercolors on rice paper. But I’ve never shared them with anyone. They’re private.
More on Sonic Youth and Neil Young.
Also, see Sonic Youth and their influence on Neil Young (and vice versa) from excerpts of "I Dreamed Of Noise", The Sonic Youth Biography.