I hadn't noticed that both BjÃ¶rk and Kim Gordon had split up from their long-term partners. Thing is, last summer I split up from my long-term partner. I think back then I would have gained some solace from the work of fabulous artists who were going through analogous pain - even if the analogies were only superficial. But then, I was deep in it all, too busy with our own difficulties and the horrible pile of practicalities that accompany a long-term breakup, to notice everything around me.
That changed this year, when Kim Gordon published a book, and BjÃ¶rk published an album, both of which foreground their breakups. But the timing has changed - it's not last summer any more, and I'm not in the heat of it, so I don't need to take solace from these things like I did back then. I can feel some empathy, remotely of course. I really wonder what I would have made of it all last summer.
BjÃ¶rk's album Vulnicura is a heartfelt and very raw heartbreak album. It does some amazing things, some really intense sonic moments, which work on these emotional issues universally, and BjÃ¶rk's lyrics are along similar lines but they often dive really deep into uncomfortably intimate detail. A bit like hearing someone listing all the bad things their ex did, and not being sure quite how literally to take it all:
"Family was always our sacred mutual mission/ Which you abandoned."
It's so direct that it makes me want to hear the other side's rejoinder. (I should say, by the way, that that quote is nothing like what was going on in my case.)
It's really quite striking though that it's BjÃ¶rk and Kim Gordon. BjÃ¶rk has for decades expressed a very open and deep emotional literacy in her music, and in recent years it's increasingly been less about torrid excitement and more about family bonds. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore were the alt-rock equivalent of the ideal family: together for decades, raising kids while pushing Sonic Youth and their other projects ever onward. And if these paragons are not immune, well on the one hand that's really sad, while on the other hand maybe I can take some solace from it after all. Their lives aren't exactly average lives, but then whose is? We're still all tumbling through the same kaleidoscope.