Thurston Moore reflects on his songwriting career

by Xin-Rui Lee

Via Print Magazine

Most famously known as the lead singer and primary songwriter for the iconic post-punk band Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore has remained active in music and publishing since the band’s disbandment in 2011. His new book “Stereo Sanctity” is a collection of poems and complete lyrics by Thurston Moore written between 1981 and 2014.

This book spans his career from Sonic Youth to Chelsea Light Moving to his most recent The Thurston Moore Band. Released by Moore’s publishing house Ecstatic Peace Library, the 700 copies of “Stereo Sanctity” are sold exclusively at Rough Trade outlets on 64 N 9th St, Brooklyn. He spoke at a book reading at “Rough Trade” last Tuesday.

“This was obviously a bit of a vanity project,” Thurston said. Donning a casual corduroy blazer over a printed off white dress shirt, the bespectacled author engages in a dialogue with friend and drummer Steve Shelley. For the next hour, Shelley asks Moore to elaborate on his writing process and his influences.

Among these memories, he mentions touring the United States with Neil Young. During this tour he recalls having “a lot of down time, so [he] basically explored every second hand bookstore in America.” Diving deep into the recesses of bargain basements, Moore discovered a wealth of post-war poetry including the likes of Ron Padgett and Joe Brainard. One of his greatest influences was also mentioned to be “what [he] was reading in rock criticisms” such as Roxy and Cream. He recounts reading advertisements in these magazines and purchasing records from Patti Smith and Richard Hell.

Ending the dialogue with a final question from friend and fellow musician, Howe Gelb (which Shelley reads off of his phone), “Have you noticed how all songs come true eventually?” To which Thurston replies with a resounding “Yes!” Finding that songs often draw upon his dreams and what was in his consciousness at the time, lyrics and poetry often end up being very reflective, and hence self-prophesying.  

On a final note, regardless whether intentional or not, the successive release of “Stereo Sanctity” following ex-wife Kim Gordon’s well-received Girl in a Band makes one wonder. In an interview with The New York Times, Gordon said, “Maybe he’ll write his own book. I’m not really interested,” and although on an unrelated topic, it appears he has.

“Stereo Sanctity” was released on Sept. 1.

Xin-Rui Lee is a Staff Writer. Email her at


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