Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore is arguably one of the most influential guitarists in modern rock music, and he recently spoke to Rolling Stone about five songs that influenced him while he was a young musician in NYC in the late 1970s. The albums he picked were made by artists he's been associated with in the past, along with others he's expressed admiration for, including Patti Smith, Glenn Branca, Minor Threat, Bush Tetras, and Tapper Zukie.
While discussing Patti Smith's "Godspeed," Thurston remembers the moment he heard the song as being a life-changing experience. "That song really floored me because it was so unlike most of their material," he told Rolling Stone. "It was less straight-ahead and fist-in-the-air kind of Patti Smith style, and it seemed almost improvised. It’s a very heavy song, very evocative, very strange, and very spiritual. It sounds like it was done in the middle of the night with the lights off. It’s not a very verse/chorus/verse/chorus song, and hearing it was very formative to me because of that approach."
He also discussed the late Glenn Branca's "Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar," which he cited as a particular influence during the creation of his upcoming LP, Spirit Counsel. "[That song], for me, was exactly what I wanted to hear from electric-guitar compositional music," he told Rolling Stone. "There were no vocals. It was just this piece that was sort of trying to sort of give distinction to an instrument and a sound that was considered to be a bit in the gutter. He was kind of keeping it in the gutter, but also bringing it into a higher esteem, giving it this other dignity. I really was super inspired by that."
Thurston's words on the rest of his picks are just as fascinating, and it's a great read for fans who want to dive deeper into his influences. You can read him explain all the picks HERE. Listen to all five songs below.
Speaking of Glenn Branca, he'll be celebrated at an upcoming Brooklyn tribute show from the Glenn Branca Ensemble, on what would have been his 71st birthday. It goes down at Saint Vitus on October 6 (tickets).
Glenn Branca - "Lesson No. 1 For Electric Guitar"
Patti Smith - "Godspeed"
Minor Threat - "In My Eyes"
Bush Tetras - "Too Many Creeps"
Tapper Zukie - "Man Ah Warrior"
Thurston Moore — 2019 Tour Dates
10-04 Toulouse, France – Le Metronum
10-05 Toulouse, France – Le Metronum
10-14 Newcastle upon Tyne, England – Riverside
10-15 Glasgow, Scotland – Classic Grand
10-15 Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club
10-18 Stoke, England – Sugarmill
10-19 London, England – ULU
10-20 Portsmouth, England – Wedgewood Rooms
10-22 Paris, France – Trabendo
10-23 Cologne, Germany – Kulturkirche
10-24 Hamburg, Germany – Grunspan
10-26 Prague, Czech Republic – Lucerna Music Bar
10-27 Munich, Germany – Strom
10-28 Vienna, Austria – WUK
10-30 Frankfurt, Germany – Das Bett
12-02 Woodstock, NY – Colony
12-03 Holyoke, MA – Gateway City Arts
12-04 Boston, MA – ONCE Ballroom
12-05 New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge
12-06 Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
12-07 Washington, D.C. – U Street Music Hall
12-08 Baltimore, MD – Ottobar
12-12 Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
12-13 Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
12-15 Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon
12-16 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel