Highlighted passages from ‘Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A Memoir’ by Carrie Brownstein

I know this is the end of the year, but ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir‘ was one of the first books I read this year. I’m just putting these down for posterity, passages that stood out for me, that I thought resonated with me or were otherwise just lyrical. And they teach me so much in themselves; about memories, music, elitism, fandom – and just being human.

Nostalgia is so certain: the sense of familiarity it instills makes us feel like we know ourselves, like we’ve lived. To get a sense that we have already journeyed through something – survived it, experienced it – is often so much easier and less messy than the task of currently living through something.

There was a stillness about the past, a clarity, the way it has been somewhat defined and dissected, in the rearview mirror; it was there for the taking, for the mining.

I don’t know much theory, I play by instinct and feel, I could probably get schooled by an eight-year-old on tonics and inversions. But back then, the word ‘musician’ had a professional characteristic to it that would have made it more alienating and anathema. Back then, I was still just a fan of music. And to be a fan of music also meant to be a fan of cities, of places. Regionalism – and the creative scenes therein – played an important role in the identification and contextualization of a sound or aesthetic. Music felt married to place, and the notion of “somewhere” predated the Internet’s seeming invention of “everywhere” (which often ends up feeling like “nowhere”).

To this day, because I know no other way of being or feeling, I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in a band – I have nothing else to compare it to. But I will say that I doubt in the history of rock journalism and writing any man has been asked “Why are you in an all-male band?”

Though I had no reservations about touring with Pearl Jam, elitism was a stubborn habit to kick. A small part of my brain retreated to my younger self, reminding me that in certain circles Nirvana had been considered the cooler, more authentic band. Nirvana’s music dragged you across the floor, you felt every crack, every speck of dirt. Their songs helped you locate the places where you ached, and in that awareness of your hurting you suddenly knew that the bleakness was collective, not merely your own. In other words, it’s okay to feel like a freak. And in high school, and for much of my adult life, maybe even now, I had, I do.

I love being a new onlooker, a convert. To become a fan of something, to open and change, is a move of deliberate optimism, curiosity, and enthusiasm.

 

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