Tracey Thorn, By Everyone’s Side

Every Wednesday, Douglas Wolk explores the people, places and coincidences that tie disparate musicians together.

Tracey Thorn’s memoir Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star came out this week in the U.K. That “tried” is a perfect word choice. For the length of the 30-year career Thorn documents, she’s been a small but significant figure in the pop world, making tender, melancholic recordings with a long list of notable collaborators — and scoring one gigantic worldwide hit almost exactly in the middle of that time.

Thorn began her recorded career in 1981 with a group called Marine Girls. They were a post-punk band, in the sense that their do-it-yourself aesthetic had been made possible by punk, but their sound was quiet, casual and witty. Marine Girls also became a cult item among much louder musicians: their first album, Beach Party, turned up on (some iterations of) Kurt Cobain’s list of his favorite records. Here’s “In Love” from it.

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