Monday, May 20, 2013

Tracey Thorn - Bedsit Disco Queen - How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star

Tracey Thorn
Bedsit Disco Queen - How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star
Virago Press/Little, Brown Book Group/Hachette Australia

It comes as no surprise to discover that the bulk of this autobiography was finished way back in 2007, and virtually forgotten about for the next four years to be eventually unearthed when Tracey Thorn, one half of the hugely successful group Everything But The Girl, was moving house. While the idea to release the autobiography was a high priority at the time, circumstances and priorities change, and the best laid plans were put on the backburner, only to be misplaced when real life takes over.
Despite the book’s long gestation, Thorn’s autobiography, ‘Bedsit Disco Queen - How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star’, has finally hit the shelves, and it’s a must have for fans of both Everything But The Girl and Thorn’s solo work.
As you would expect, within the three hundred and sixty five pages of ‘Bedsit Disco Queen - How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star’, Thorn gives readers plenty of insight into the earliest musical output with the highly influential post-punk outfit the Marine Girls, her long running career with Everything But The Girl, her various collaborative efforts (In particular alongside the likes of Paul Weller and Massive Attack) and her successful solo career after Everything But The Girl had been put on ice.
But While Thorn’s music is well known to most, it’s Thorn herself who remains the real mystery. Sure, Thorn’s life has been documented to some extent through countless interviews over the years, but on a seriously personal level, Thorn still remains an enigma.
It’s within this literary effort that Thorn finally opens up and invites the outside world into her world, both on a musical and personal level – which allows Thorn to present herself for who she really is. And that’s a reluctant performer that emerged from out of the wardrobe to eventually become a pop star in a group that enjoyed global success, only to eventually leave it all behind to lead a completely different life.
For the most part, Thorn draws a lot of the early history within ‘Bedsit Disco Queen - How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star’ from early journal entries, reviews, interviews and her own memory. This, coupled with hindsight, offers a fascinating insight into what shaped and influenced Thorn as an individual, as well as provide an idea of what it was like growing up in the U.K.’s music and social; scene in the ‘80’s.
Thorn’s recollections of her stint as a member of the short lived Marine Girls is a fascinating read, and the details behind the recording of their two albums (1981’s ‘Beach Party’ and 1983’s ‘Lazy Ways’) is no less riveting given how much influence the albums would have on others in years to come.
When the book turns toward the introduction of Ben Watt (Who is Thorn’s husband and the other half of Everything But The Girl) and the formation of Everything But The Girl, Thorn is quite forthright about the group’s success and failures over their eighteen year career, and about her own insecurities as both a singer and performer. Thorn is honest enough to single out particular eras of the group that were unexpected successes, as well as speak forthright about eras where the band were trying things that didn’t work at all, which makes the book nothing less than a fascinating read.
But outside of musical endeavours, Thorn discusses on her relationship with Watt, Watt’s extensive hospitalisation (With the rare disease Churg-Strauss syndrome), and how that played a big role in Thorn’s personal life, and its flow on effect in the musical sense.
Not surprisingly, the story behind the disbanding of Everything But The Girl is a personal one, and one that makes sense of Thorn’s life after the band – and that’s motherhood. From the outside looking in, the decision for the duo to fold at a time when they were on the cusp of worldwide success simply didn’t make sense (The band turned down a major tour supporting U2 at the time), but Thorn’s book goes to great lengths to explain the reasons why, and how it would benefit the pair’s future in ways they would never have previously thought possible.
‘Bedsit Disco Queen - How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Pop Star’ is a fascinating and quite personal tale of Thorn’s life, both as a reluctant/self conscious pop star and song writer, and the life she chose for herself after her interest in the music world took a backseat.
If you’re a fan of Everything But The Girl, or Thorn’s vast body of solo work, this book is nothing short of essential.

For more information on Tracey Thorn, check out - http://www.traceythorn.com/

© Justin Donnelly