Part-time bookseller, Meike, shares with us a review of one of today’s hot new releases — Kathy Valentine’s All I Ever Wanted, a memoir of growing up, the Texas music scene, and playing bass for 80’s pop-rock group, The Go-Go’s.
In the fall of 1982 I started my first semester of college. It was a heady time — raised by conservative German immigrant parents, I’d grown up sheltered, and my mind was blown by the diversity and freedom that dorm life presented. I had my whole life in front of me — the future was wide open, and I was fortunate to be in an environment that encouraged me to explore and seize any opportunity available to me.
A huge part of the soundtrack to that time was Beauty and the Beat by the Go-Go’s. It was on constant rotation and to this day that album transports me back to that pivotal time.
The bright colors and peppy tunes of the album belie the cultural significance of the Go-Go’s appearance on the music scene. They were an all-female band to not only write their own music but play their own instruments — with a driving new wave beat that straddled the punk and pop genres in a wholly original and accessible way. They sang about empowerment, and they just looked so damn cool doing it with their sassy haircuts and vintage mini-skirts. They kicked ass in a way that no band had ever done before, forging success in an industry dominated by men, and it was incredibly inspiring.
In All I Ever Wanted, Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine shares an intimate history of the Go-Go’s and the part she played in their evolution and success. There was no internet and no social media during the Go-Go’s heyday, so fans like me didn’t get to have the connection with their idols that Twitter and Instagram facilitate. Reading Valentine’s book made up for missing out on the details that would have been tweeted or posted — the glamor, the partying, and the camaraderie. But there was a dark side to Valentine’s experience and she doesn’t hold back in sharing details of her mistakes and regrets. While I loved getting to know some of the pulpier details of the Go-Go’s experiences, I gained a new level of respect for these women that showed my generation that girls really could do anything.
All I Ever Wanted is available for purchase now from BookPeople online through BookShop.
About the Author: Kathy Valentine is a working musician and songwriter known for being part of the all-female band the Go-Go’s. She wrote or cowrote many of the band’s most renowned songs, including “Vacation” and “Head Over Heels.” In addition to playing music and writing songs, Valentine has worked as an actor, public speaker and spokesperson, and producer. In 2017 she created “She Factory,” an event series to raise money for women-centered nonprofits. She currently lives in her hometown of Austin with her daughter, where she plays in a band and is completing her first college degree.