On Mike Nichols
In Mike Nichols’s inspiring life, I find a brief, defiant distraction from war. The director’s biography offers, I like to think, a giant “f*** you” to all murderous bastards, then and now. Read my column.
In Mike Nichols’s inspiring life, I find a brief, defiant distraction from war. The director’s biography offers, I like to think, a giant “f*** you” to all murderous bastards, then and now. Read my column.
In front of a Francis Bacon painting, a strange nausea sets in. Sometimes I feel strong enough to be unsettled by art, but not today. Read my column.
Watching the Company cast album, I sense the thrill and the terror of singing in front of Stephen Sondheim. The commitment to getting it right verges on cruelty, insisting on take after take – and all of these vocals happening in a room full of cigarette smoke! Read my column.
This week’s New Statesman column: the unbearable poignancy of listening to my old demo cassettes, and how the experience reminds me a tiny bit of the Get Back film.
Humans think they own the world but, outnumbered by birds, I am dumbfounded. A lot of birdwatching seems to be quite disappointing, but as I stare through my binoculars at the sky I am transfixed. Read my column.
Do we need a multi-sensory “experience” to make this Christmas perfect? It makes me feel 100 years old to be complaining about the season’s over-commercialisation, but isn’t it really about togetherness and glorious anticipation? Read my column.
I’ve been shut off for too long. It’s time for some little ordinary adventures At last, I’m shaking my post-Covid state of mind. Read my column.
How one recording studio embodies everything that went wrong in the Eighties. In a documentary on Air Studio, Montserrat there is an absence of that ineffable vibe that turns some into sites of pilgrimage. Read my column.
At my son’s damp student house in Brighton, I’m reminded of the winter of discontent. Though the house seems to me, at my age and level of sensitivity, utterly repugnant, I can see that it is probably “fun”. Read my column.
How I wish my old diary held more detail of the night I met my husband. My first meeting with Ben is mentioned only fleetingly. We went back to his room and listened to the Durutti Column. I didn’t record any first impressions. Read my column.
Covid has aged us, but a seaside sundae makes me feel ten years old again. On a trip to Kent, I discover plenty of literary references – and a new zest for life. Read my column.
Onstage for the first time since the pandemic, my public and private selves are in conflict. Halfway through my interview at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, I have an awful moment when I seem to disengage, and I suddenly feel like a fraud, like a bore. Read my column.
Why Bette Davis is the best person to teach us how to live now.
‘Now, Voyager’ tells the story of a woman emerging from a kind of imprisonment and taking her place in the outside world. Read my column.
When I first saw my face on the side of a building, I couldn’t quite believe it was real. I don’t mean like an image of the Virgin Mary in an Italian hill town, visible only to true believers. I mean that I’ve been painted there, as part of a mural. Read my column.
As plans for our family holiday crumble, our only option is a staycation in the garden. The disappointment – even after this year of disappointments – was sharp and piercing. We are all tired of putting on a brave face. Read my column.
I was primed to dislike the Stones – but eventually I realised it wasn’t them, it was me. Read my column.
In my newly wildlife-friendly garden, damselflies mate to a soundtrack of London traffic. There are more bees in the garden than I have ever seen before, more butterflies, more moths, more everything. Read my column.
For the last 30 years Ben’s life has had a lot of doctors in it, but still, general anaesthetics and surgery have the power to shake us both. When he goes into hospital again I end up doing what I’d hoped to avoid: pacing and watching the clock. Read my column.
Men tend to think they’re the authority on music – but I have learned to fight my corner. I’ve been banging the feminist drum for 40 years, but when I reflect on my early song lyrics I realise that I banged it far too subtly. Read my column.
Browsing my children’s shelves, I understand how the books we read make us who we are. It’s why we keep books, isn’t it, for the little ghosts of our past selves contained within? Read my column.
As I enter my empty office building, I feel a strange mix of elation, anticipation and anxiety. Last summer I didn’t take advantage of the loosening of rules and I regretted it; but this time I am allowing myself to join in. Read my column.
It’s easy for women to be written out of their story, so I wrote my rock ’n’ roll friend back in. Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison endured the trials of being a woman in the music business in the 1980s, and her story should be told. Read my column.
I have never had a nine-to-five job but I still cherish the routines of the weekend. It all starts on a Friday night with some booze, as I sink into the relaxation that the end of the week brings. Read my column.
For most of us, lockdown life will pass. But for some, there is no ‘getting back to normal’. As we battle with lockdown fatigue, I remember that those who live with disability or chronic illness always operate within such restrictions. Read my latest column.
Fearing for the future of the music business, I’m haunted by the ghosts of gigs past. Glastonbury’s cancellation comes as another blow upon the painful bruise being felt by the whole music industry. Yet the magnitude of the crisis is under-recorded. Read my column.
Gardening brings a forward momentum that is otherwise absent from my life right now. One of its great consolations is the element of predictability. Plants want to grow, and so long as you give them soil, water and light, they will do their thing. It’s reassuring. Read my column. You can also read my recent Christmas and New Year columns here.
Tracey’s new book, My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend is out April 2021. Pre-order limited signed copies.
In 1983, backstage at the Lyceum in London, Tracey Thorn and Lindy Morrison first met. Tracey’s music career was just beginning, while Lindy, drummer for The Go-Betweens, was ten years her senior. They became confidantes, comrades and best friends, a relationship cemented by gossip and feminism, books and gigs and rock ’n’ roll love affairs.
Morrison – a headstrong heroine blazing her way through a male-dominated industry – came to be a kind of mentor to Thorn. They shared the joy and the struggle of being women in a band, trying to outwit and face down a chauvinist music media.
In My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend Thorn takes stock of thirty-seven years of friendship, teasing out the details of connection and affection between two women who seem to be either complete opposites or mirror images of each other. This important book asks what people see, who does the looking, and ultimately who writes women out of – and back into – history.
I found my mum’s old recipes. As I read her instructions for an Easy Boxing Day Buffet, I wonder how different Christmas will feel this year. Read my column.
As I watch the new documentary Ronnie’s, I am reminded of the complicated man who brought the New York jazz scene to Soho. Read my column.
A hard winter is coming – but in the garden, autumn’s pleasures are still there for the taking. I put on my boots and head outside to push broad beans into the earth. Read my column.
As the rain falls and the gloom increases, I read slowly, not wanting my book to end; Andrew O’Hagan’s new novel, Mayflies, has me gripped as I revisit the giddy hedonism of Manchester in the 1980s. Read my column.
My empty nest didn’t stay empty for long – but it’s time to prepare for absence again. As my youngest leaves for university, I realise the effect Covid-19 has had on family life: both separation and togetherness have become difficult. Read my column.
I’m finally tasting freedom – but have I left it too late to enjoy lockdown easing? Read my column.
My daughter has no graduation ceremony – so we stage one right here in the garden. Our home-made event is short and sweet – with silly wigs, bunny ears, and a Slytherin robe and wizard’s hat. Read my column.
The thing I miss most is dancing: that rush of euphoria, all caught up in the thrill of the moment. Heaven knows when it will feel safe to be breathing and singing in a crowded space – the thought makes me sad. Read my column.
I have fallen in love with the new book by Michèle Roberts, which could not be more timely, even though it was written before anyone had heard of Covid-19. It reminded me we have to accept uncertainty, whether we like it or not. That, I realise, is the key to surviving. Read my column.
I now flinch at the world that used to invigorate me, and I wonder if this change is permanent. This heightened awareness, this sensitivity, this flinching at the world’s cruelties – has it always been here inside me, but covered up by habit and distraction? Read my column.
I’m looking for new life everywhere I go. Even the mosquitoes are cheering me up. They are the first living creatures to have arrived in the pond we dug a week ago. Read my column.
Each day I walk, garden and cook – but at night, my dreams give the lie to my apparent calmness. Read my column.
I talk to my mum, who has been dead for nearly ten years, and I wonder, is this a prayer? “Mum,” I say/think, “you won’t believe what’s happening. There’s a pandemic and we all have to stay indoors. Like, indefinitely. It’s weird. And I’m a bit sad and scared.” Read my column.
I’ve started to gaze in awe at every leaf. I’m turning into Fotherington-Thomas, on acid. Right now, I am finding more comfort in the natural world than anywhere else. Read my column.
For this week’s column I didn’t really know what to write about and of course there is only one thing to write about.
When loneliness begins to take hold, my gang of Excellent Women know exactly what to do. This column was originally published on 18 March 2020.
Strutting warriors, bare-armed film stars: is there any greater performance than being a man? I spent much of Thursday staring at men. Read my column
Taylor Swift personifies the internal battle so many of us fight: Bad Girl vs Good Girl. Read my column.
You don’t go to Madonna for vulnerability: she is all about self-determination, pleasure and defiance. Read my review of her London show.
Turns out I’m a poet of mature disappointment. Especially on national Divorce Day. It coincided with my becoming hooked on a podcast about unhappy couples. Read my column.
Another Planet will be out in paperback on 6th Feb, and I’m doing a few In Conversation events where I’ll be chatting and signing copies of the book. Ticket links and info here on my website
In December I’m all “Once a year, let’s have the past”, then in January I look ahead again. Read my column.
Drinking bourbon on stage was one of my highlights of the year. It’s not always books and films and songs – sometimes it’s just moments. Read my column.
Recalling the Raincoats and Grease – and the very different effects they had on my teenage self. Read my column.
Amsterdam: Van Gogh’s wet paint under a microscope, and the world’s most silent tourists. As if all this emotion isn’t enough, the next day I visit the Anne Frank Museum. The experience is much as I expected, sombre and dispiriting. Read my column.
Tinsel and Lights gets a brand new vinyl reissue on November 22. You can order the classic Christmas album now.
Tracey Thorn released her alternative Christmas album of modern and retro classics in 2012. Featuring songs by Jack White, Joni Mitchell, Ron Sexsmith, Randy Newman and Sufjan Stevens, a guest vocal appearance by Green Gartside (Scritti Politti) and contributions by partner Ben Watt, it has become an evergreen record for the festive season.
We have a brand new single vinyl edition, cut at Abbey Road Studios and pressed on heavyweight 180gm vinyl with a printed inner sleeve. Get yours!
On the anti-Brexit march, I begin to think this kind of protest is a bit too mild. I don’t want to leave the EU but that doesn’t mean I love it so devotedly that I want to wear its colours on a beret. Read my column.
Nick Cave’s new album Ghosteen has completely floored me. In a good way. This record is the sound of a man whose whole being has been altered, possessed even, by what has happened. Read my column.
Even with my mother gone, I get the urge to tell her things that would make her proud of me. How is it possible that I still keep forgetting, this many years after her death, that I can’t call her with news? Read my column.
I thought I was prepared for the youngest leaving home. I stand there, stirring a huge pot of pasta. This time it’ll be easy – I know what to do, what to expect, have already had two kids ‘leave home’ to go to university, as if that’s really leaving home at all. Read my column.
With my son at a festival in a storm, I try to distract myself with a shocking new TV show. Read my new column.
I’m in Italy surrounded by friends and family and a mountain of holiday books. Read my latest column.
Out of the corner of my eye, the power station looks like a full moon rising. Around me, the colour palette runs the full spectrum of all the greys, like a paint chart – cloud, sea, shingle, concrete and steel. Read my latest column.
I was only meant to stay for a night, but here I still am, in the gloom and glamour of Brighton. Read my latest column.
We were all utterly ready for my youngest to finish school – so why am I blinking back tears? Read my column on the end of school.
I went to church three times this week – and the final time, I watched Aretha Franklin fly. Read my column.
Nudity, crudity, gypsies, tramps and thieves: it’s just a regular night at Duckie. The unique club night at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been running for 20 years, and remains the only place I’m allowed to play what I really want to dance to. Read about my latest visit.
Poly Styrene’s voice went through me like a stiletto – and she woke me up. Her lyrics on identity could have been written today, and she stood out with her unique style, confrontational and playful at the same time. I wrote about her and the great new book about her, DAYGLO by Celeste Bell and Zoe Howe.
This week, it’s my five year anniversary of writing my New Statesman column – and how that’s different from writing sad songs. Read about it here.
In the three-day week of the 1970s, blokes ruled. We don’t want to go back there. Do we? An upcoming 1970s record compilation doesn’t feature a single woman, in 28 tracks. Which is, in itself, very 1970s. Read my latest column.
It is two weeks since my eardrum perforated on the train and I am still deaf. The world is a scarier place. Read my column.
I’ve always been drawn to the notion of failure – it’s what glues us together, after all. Read my latest column.
This week’s New Statesman column is on being heckled at gigs. I always knew I could give as good as I got. They might dish it out, but I threw it straight back.
This week’s New Statesman column: there’s a new baby in our family. I’m a Great Aunt. And I think I’ve forgotten, but I haven’t really.
This week’s New Statesman column, in which I try to have a bit of a clear out. Warning: contains shocking and shameful discoveries.
“In the heart of the Green Belt nothing seemed to move. Stranded in the past, it wrestled with the present, and hated the future. And there I was, stuck with it.” Tracey’s new memoir – Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia – is published by Canongate on 7 February 2018. See her in conversation across the UK.
This week’s New Statesman column – going to open days with our youngest made me want to go back to university.
Tracey appeared on the BBC Radio 4’s long-running and much-loved Desert Island Discs show on Sunday November 18, talking to host Lauren Laverne, chatting about her upbringing, family and career, and playing the songs she’d take with her to her imaginary desert island. You can re-stream the show on the BBC iPlayer.
I never expected to be in the index of the greatest spy story of the Cold War. But there I am. My latest column is on spy books and how Everything But The Girl ended up in Moscow in 1985. Pic by Jonny Clow.
This week’s column. It’s a strange time to be in New York, reading the T-shirts and entering the Women’s Gate. On the street a woman passes me wearing a badge that reads, “I believe you Christine Blasey Ford.”
This autumn, I want to look my age. I’ve decided finally to embrace grey. No one wants to become a slave to a past self. Read this week’s column.
Something keeps drawing me down to the river at the moment. Early on Sunday mornings, I’ve been marching through the deserted city and down to Embankment. Read more in this week’s column.
I’ve always taken a somewhat DIY approach to both my music and my hair. My beginnings were as independent as you can get: if you sent a postal order to my home address, my parents’ home address in fact, I’d post you a cassette. Read on.
Tracey was given the esteemed award for Outstanding Contribution to Music at AIM Awards 2018 last night in a ceremony in central London. AIM is the Association of Independent Music, a hugely important and respected UK organisation that protects and celebrates the rights and work of independent labels and artists. Other winners on the night included Jorja Smith, Nadine Shah, Ninja Tune, Sophie and Goldie.
This week’s column: I’m in Edinburgh, watching our youngest on stage, and envying his joy.
I thought I knew about hippies, and Haight-Ashbury, and flowers in your hair. And I thought I knew about Tales of the City, and the gay dating and clubbing world. But this was something else. This week’s column is a look at the world of Sylvester and The Cockettes.
This week’s column: “My “Choose Love” T-shirt makes me look defiant, but I feel quite fragile underneath it. Maybe that’s the point.
This hot summer has transported me back to the drought of 1976 – the music, my teenage diary. Read my column.
London at night was magic: lounging on the Lyceum floor, or racing over Waterloo Bridge. No music ever sounds as good as in the back of a cab speeding across the Thames in the dark, lights blurred and rushing towards you. Read more.
I lived through “heroin chic” and fetishised skinniness – I’m not sure how to feel about that now. I wrote a column about it.
This week’s column, in which Ben and I go on holiday to St Ives, and have an ALMIGHTY row.
This week’s column is on talking about music. Features Chrissie Hynde, Margo Jefferson, and Jake Shears (pic).
I wrote about how weird it can feel to be the centre of attention, what it’s like to be abused, and how it’s impossible to be unscathed.
This week’s column is about being a woman in music, written about so much of the time by men.
The third single from my current album, Record, is out today. It’s called Dancefloor and comes with new remixes from Powerdance, Ewan Pearson and Sasse. Take a look here.
You don’t have to entertain me, just be close at hand. Here’s my latest column on friendships.
I was very pleased to be asked to write about Sade. Here is my piece in the New Statesman. Respect to her, always.
I didn’t realise it when I wrote it, but I suppose my latest New Statesman column might be especially relevant to anyone who, like me, was missing their mum on Mother’s Day last week
IT’S FINALLY OUT! My new solo album Record is officially released today. Produced by Ewan Pearson. Featuring Stella and Jenny from Warpaint, Corinne Bailey Rae, Shura, Jagwar Ma’s Jono, and the recent singles Queen and Sister. What’s more there a new video for Sister too. Filmed in London, it features me singing alongside an inter-generational cast of amazing women: Caroline, Ameera, Kate and Daniella. Press play! Hope you like x
This week’s column is all about the joy of being played on the radio.
I’m very happy to say that you can now hear (and buy!) a second track from my new album. Sister, a feminist groove anthem, features the amazing Corinne Bailey Rae, and Stella and Jenny from Warpaint, and it’s available at all these places.
I’m a baby boomer, which means I could easily join in with cynical dismissals of millennials, but I don’t want to. I’m listening to them, and I think they’re great. Read my latest column on feminism’s generation gap.
This week’s column, my old friend anxiety again. And trying yoga with the lovely Adriene.
I’m excited to announce the release on March 2nd of my new solo album. It’s called Record. Produced by Ewan Pearson, it features guest appearances from Corinne Bailey Rae, Shura and Warpaint’s Jenny (bass) and Stella (drums). It’ll be released on Merge Records in North America and Unmade Road/Caroline in the Rest of The World. Hope you love it. You can pre-order here. You can also watch my new video of the first track, Queen.
Keeping a reading diary reminded me of everything I read in 2017. See my favourites in this week’s column.
With the release of my new solo album due to be announced soon, I’ve put together a list of my favourite songs of the year in a Spotify playlist. Exciting, inspiring and moving, they’ve kept me company, got me on my feet and had me singing my heart out. (Photo: Tracey DJing at Cherry Jam in 2004)
This week’s column is on the vinyl revival – what it means to those of us who listen to records, and those of us who make them.
This week’s column, listening to Armistead Maupin in Brighton, then dancing till 3am, covered in glitter.
Tracey was honoured with the Artists’ Artist Award last night at Artist and Manager Awards 2017 in a ceremony at the Printworks in London. The award was chosen by the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and Music Managers Forum (MMF) and recognises the long-term creative and innovative musical output of an individual or group. Previous winners including Joan Armatrading, Placebo and Massive Attack. She was presented with the award by singer Sandie Shaw and arts editor of the New Statesman, Kate Mossman.
Tracey has been recognised for her work in the Marine Girls and Everything But The Girl, her continuing solo career, her many collaborations with artists including The Style Council, Massive Attack and John Grant, and her work as a writer of two acclaimed memoirs and contemporary journalism for the New Statesman magazine.
‘I am so flattered to be given this award,’ said Tracey. ‘I haven’t won anything since 1984, when City Limits magazine gave me a small garden gnome for being the Best Female Singer. So this is a sharp thrill indeed, and I thank everyone involved.’
Look! I’ve signed new limited vinyl box sets of Tinsel and Lights. And strangely, it’s nearly Christmas.
I go to see The Slits film, then it all goes downhill, then the sky goes yellow. Read this week’s column.
I went back with Ben to speak at the Hull City of Culture Festival last month. First time back in a very long time.Read my column about it here.
Everything is going wrong, it seems – until I’m reminded that not quite everything is. Read my latest column here.
The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and Music Managers Forum (MMF) have announced that Tracey Thorn will receive the Artists’ Artist Award at the A&MAs next month. Read more.
I hate musicals. Apart from Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, Follies – oh, wait … read more in my latest column.
This week’s column is about collaborating, and being re-mixed, and features Tyler, the Creator, Todd Terry and Jens Lekman.
In my latest column I’m on holiday, reading, thinking, and remembering when the kids were tiny.
On Friday September 29, Tracey and Ben will be in conversation with poet Simon Armitage about their songs and books and their time in Hull where they formed Everything But The Girl in 1982. The event is part of Hull 2017, a year-long celebration of the city’s culture, and takes place at Jubilee Church at 6pm. Tickets are free. Book here.
I went to see England Is Mine, AKA the Morrissey film. It avoids controversy, but it ends up bland in a way that is probably its downfall. Read my column about it.
I went with my son to see Jez Butterworth’s new play, The Ferryman. He was left shivering – precisely the response you want from a boy newly excited by drama. I can only assume theatre is in his blood, but not from my side of the family. Read my column about it here.
I started writing songs to block out the news – now I’m accidentally recording an album. Read about it all. And here’s a nice pic of me with producer Ewan Pearson, Stella and Jenny from Warpaint, and Jono from Jagwar Ma.
Gigs are complicated things. We all want different things from them, at different times. Going to see Bob Dylan the other week made me think about gigs I have loved, and especially about the gigs of my youth, and whether anything can ever match up as you get older. Here’s what I wrote about it.
This week’s column on judging book prizes, written before the announcement that the Bailey’s Prize had been won on Wednesday by Naomi Alderman with her amazing piece of feminist sci-fi, The Power. Also, obviously, written before today’s election news; but I’m very happy that the piece ends with a quote from Sylvia Patterson’s book I’m Not With The Band – “THE KIDS ARE STILL ALRIGHT”. I’ve always thought that’s true, and it seems very very true today.
This week’s New Statesman column, on how I’ve been trying to learn to run, egged on by Jo Whiley and Madonna.
This week’s column – I despair at how quickly couples give up on each other – but then, what do I know about dating?
As part of their edition marking the twentieth anniversary of Tony Blair’s New Labour landslide victory in 1997, the New Statesman asked me for my musical memories of the era. I wrote this.
This week’s column – remembering my Dad, and how I could still have teenage rows with him at the age of 50.
My latest column for the New Statesman is about ten days of being alone and then seeing The xx in concert.
This week’s column – I’m back in the studio recording demos of new songs. As usual, they never sound how you imagine.
This week’s New Statesman column is on the Lefties and Wimmin of the 1970’s (you had to be there).
Just wanted to let you all know that I’ve recorded a duet with Jens Lekman for his album ‘Life Will See You Now’, which is out now. The song is called ‘Hotwire the Ferris Wheel’ and tells a story in which Jens and I have a fantastical night time adventure in a fairground, culminating in me singing to Jens, ‘If you’re gonna write a song about this then please don’t make it a sad song’. It’s not a sad song. It even features Jens going ‘WOO!’ Hear it now.
My latest New Statesman column is on reading old books, and how they help in new – and frightening – times.
I went on the Women’s March in London. I didn’t have a banner, but I did have sandwiches. Read my column here.
This week’s New Statesman column: my tribute to George Michael, an anecdote about a sports car. I like to think it’s what he would have wanted.
Last column of the year, this embattled year, and I’m in New York just before Christmas. I leave you with a toast – Here’s to us, who’s like us? Damn few! My love to all of you xx