All I Ever Wanted (University of Texas Press)
Despite the fact that they publicly stated that they were slowing down and getting off of the touring circuit, this year looks like it’ll be a big one for The Go-Go’s. There’s a documentary movie, called The Go-Go’s, coming out on Showtime and, would you believe it, an 11-date tour to coincide with it. Bassist Kathy Valentine, meanwhile, will be performing at the benefit for friend Kim Shattuck on March 15, and she has this new memoir, officially on sale from April 9.
There’s also a book tour which will hit Book Soup on the Sunset Strip on April 7 (with Kathleen Hanna) and a soundtrack that sits alongside the book. It’s all go for the Go-Go.
The book is wonderful. It’s also an easy read, the prose as rhythmic and pulsating as her musicianship. The prologue drops us in on a Valentine looking for the right band, and joining the Go-Go’s because their original bassist Margot Olavarria was sick and couldn’t play a scheduled string of shows at the Whisky. Valentine, a guitarist with her band the Textones, borrowed a bass and learned the songs in three days, successfully played the gigs and the band never looked back.
That’s the intro. And it’s an interesting one because, timeline-wise, it’s about halfway through the story. So with chapter one and onwards, we read about how she got to that point — raised in Texas by an English mother who divorced Valentine’s Texan father. We learn of her early bands, and her love of Suzi Quatro and the Runaways — trailblazers who showed Valentine that there’s nothing women can’t do in the music industry.
When we get to the Go-Go’s, Valentine is open and honest, but always with a sense of warmth. She talks in very human terms about her annoyance at seeing The Bangles reach the level she felt The Go-Go’s should have been at, and her sense of deep loss every time her band faltered.
All I Ever Wanted isn’t a Rocky-like tale of victory, with a final act which sees The Go-Go’s on top of the world conquering all comers. This is the story of a musician, a lifer, who simply refused to quit and, as it says at the start of this piece, The Go-Go’s are still here. Still playing live at big venues. And people are still interested enough that there’s a documentary movie coming out. You can bet, if you’d offered that to Valentine when she was looking for the right band, she’d have bitten your hand off.