The new Lee Ranaldo solo record proves my theory on the SY divide: when you are young, you want to be a Thurston (effortlessly and impossibly cool, slavishly devoted to your record collection, exploring your art, effusive shaggy man child, making poetry zines)—but post 30/32, when you hit the adult-getting-your-shit-together streak, you want to be a Lee. Writing linear riffs, playing tennis, being grown-up with dignity, finding a manner of tucking in your shirt but somehow not looking like an asshole (if you are a dude). When I was young, I mentally assigned all the best guitar parts in Sonic Youth songs to Thurston—assuming Lee was the rhythm guitarist—and I was so shocked, finally seeing them live and Thurston was just dicking off with drumsticks and it was Lee with all the solos and ZZ Top style riffing. The new Lee is like, straight ahead and “mature” but not boring, not Wilco-ing out in the noodle zone. It’s very “songs”.
He looks cool on the album cover, but I could not resist this picture because it looks like he is moonlighting as a high school Earth Sciences teacher and this is his yearbook photo. Going by this picture he defs is the adviser to some of the nerdier after school clubs, and was heavily involved in initiating the schools recycling program. His inscription in your yearbook is a pun.
I guess my theory should not be limited to Lee/Thurston. What era of life do you become a Kim? I think Steve is like, 1-14 years old. Mostly because of the energy and the hair. Maybe Kim is sagely old age, knowing yr the shit and really not caring, because you care about things beyond cool?
(Tumblr just suggested I let people answer this question—perhaps suggesting my theory is not as elastic as I think.)