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May 23, 2017

Book Notes - Lizzy Goodman "Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011"

Meet Me in the Bathroom

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Lizzy Goodman's Meet Me in the Bathroom is a fascinating oral history of the New York rock scene's first decade in the 21st century.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"In this gossip-fueled, engaging oral history, fashion and music journalist Goodman traces New York’s tempestuous rock revival at the turn of the 21st century."

In her own words, here is Lizzy Goodman's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Meet Me in the Bathroom:

1. "Intro" by Dr. Octagon (Kool Keith)
One of the funniest elements of reporting/writing this book was when seemingly unconnected story lines converged. The DFA guys were all obsessed with Dr. Octagonologyst, one of the most mischievous, profane records of all time. And it turns out so was Jaleel Bunton and others from TV On the Radio. I played the album's intro a lot, usually as I sat down to write for the day or when things were feeling too serious and I needed a reminder that this whole thing is supposed to be fun and dirty.
2. "Sabotage" by Beastie Boys
I always said that the city itself was the main character in this book. As such, I needed to regularly tap into the signature swagger and witty defiance of New York. The Beastie Boys—and this track in particular—capture that sense of justified arrogance, naughty humor, and joy.
3. "53rd and 3rd" by The Ramones
I listened to the bands I was actually writing about only sparingly, like I was saving them for when I really needed them. Instead, I played a lot of music that influenced the characters in my story. I wanted to steep in the songs they would have been obsessing over and using as creative benchmarks. This track is the sound of '70s New York, and would have been among the ones to beat for so many of these bands.
4. "Glad Girls" by Guided By Voices
I often craved the careening joy of the Strokes' favorite band. It reminded me of the era in which we all came up, when indie rockers were gods and leather jacket rock and roll seemed obsolete. If you don't think anyone is ever going to hear—much less care—about what you're making, it's easy to get really free. This song sounds like how it felt to be a 21-year-old kid sleeping on the New Jersey Transit commuter train back to Philly after a wild night on the Lower East Side. (AKA: me).
5. "Fight The Power" by Public Enemy 
Perfectly expressed anger is very invigorating. I felt like I was at war a lot when working on this book. This was my battle anthem.
6. "Hard Knock Life" by Jay-Z
A reminder of what rock was up against when the Strokes and Interpol and the DFA guys first started working on music. Hip-hop reigned, and rightly so.
7. "New York Groove" by Ace Frehley
My dear friend Marc Spitz (who suddenly passed away this winter, but who was instrumental in so many ways to making this book happen) made for me, when I first started writing it, a playlist titled simply, "NYC." I was feeling overwhelmed by the scope of what I'd undertaken—hundreds of interviews that would need to be conducted, then culled into something resembling a cohesive story. I was also intimidated by the legacy of New York, the pressure of telling one part of my generation's piece of this great city's story. Marc wanted to remind me to stay close to the music. I played this mix over and over again for five years while working on Meet Me in the Bathroom. Surprisingly, this was the track I'd go to most often. Cheesy as all get out, in the best way.
8. "Cheree" by Suicide
As the esteemed journalist Jenny Eliscu points out in the book, so many of the greatest, weirdest, most inventive artists never find big commercial success. This haunting classic by one of the cities greatest, weirdest, most inventive bands is just beyond the beyond—so mysterious and beautiful and scary. I always seek a sense of tingling, rollercoaster-ish fear in my music. This song is my most reliable mainline to that sweet terror. I used it like a sonic palate cleanser when writing.
9. "Angie" by The Realistics
If you'd asked me in, say 2000, who my favorite band was, I'd have said the Realistics. My friend Niki and I would go down to the Khyber Pass in downtown Philly when we were in college to see them and other now unknown rock stars of the era. You could say it's sad that they never really broke through, but rock and roll is supposed to be ephemeral. I just feel so crazy lucky to have gotten to witness them in all their glory.
10. "Tomorrow Never Knows" by the Beatles
Having not actually been there in person the night James Murphy took ecstasy for the first time and—so the story goes—discovered his true self and his signature sound after hearing this song, his favorite from childhood, on the stereo, I had to play it a lot in order to conjure the vicarious thrill.
11. "City Drops Into the Night" by The Jim Carroll Band
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico where the very idea of urban life is exotic. My musical taste didn't get properly weird until college, but I saw the movie adaptation of Jim Carroll's first memoir Basketball Diaries (starring baby Leo DiCaprio!) when I was still in high school and it fucked me up real good. Threesomes! Rooftop masturbation! Pedophilic priests! Heroin! It was the first work of art that showed me the stealth sweetness of forbidden, racy worlds. City boys, after all, are still just boys. Carroll's follow-up, Forced Entries, remains my favorite memoir of all time, and his band's album, Catholic Boy, already a regular go-to on my general playlist, felt especially nourishing during the writing of this book.
12. "Our Time" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
In those rare moments when I needed to play the music I was writing about, this was always my entry point. I remember getting the debut YYY EP and just playing it over and over and over and over again. I was into the Strokes first, as you can read about in the intro to the book, but I felt emotionally closest to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their blend of sensitivity and wildness matched my own, which I didn't yet understand and probably still don't. I just knew that when Karen screamed, "it's our time to be hated," I felt like I'd come home.

Lizzy Goodman and Meet Me in the Bathroom links:

excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Detroit Free Press review
Exclaim! review
Publishers Weekly review

also at Largehearted Boy:

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