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Omnibus - Episode 3

Tracey Thorn: Bedsit Disco Queen

Friday 1 March 2013, 15:09

Tracey Thorn Tracey Thorn

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Editor's note: Bedsit Disco Queen is next week's Book of the Week. Episode 1 is available from Monday 4 March.

Tracey Thorn Tracey Thorn (Photo Credit: Edward Bishop)

I started writing this book in about 2005. Five years since I'd last performed live or recorded anything, I hadn't written a note of music or a single line of lyrics in all that time. People kept asking me, "Have you got a new record coming out?" "Are you going back on tour soon?""Don't you MISS singing?"

No, no and no, I replied, content and immersed in the quiet, domestic life I was living. Still, as time passed, and the questions repeated themselves, I began to wonder, "Have I done something foolish?" and "Am I wasting my time?"

Even, "Have I disappeared?"

Being at home with small children, something of yourself inevitably disappears. In my case, it seemed that the person who'd once cared more about music than anything else, who'd summoned up the courage as a shy, suburban teenager to buy an electric guitar and barge her way into a local band, then form another band, and then another, had been lost somewhere along the way. I started to think that was a shame, and so I set about trying to rediscover her.

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Tracey Thorn describes bumping into George Michael at the school gates.
Tracey Thorn's ticket for Siouxsie and the Banshees

This meant a lot of trawling through diaries, and cassettes, and fanzines, and copies of the NME, and tour itineraries, until finally I built up a picture of the girl I'd once been, and in doing so, discovered I still was, somewhere deep inside. Writing the story of that person brought her back to life, and so before I'd even finished the book I tossed it aside and started recording again.

Tracey Thorn's ticket stubs

Finally, years later, I finished what I'd started and here it is, "Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up And Tried To Be A Popstar". It turned out to be so much more than I'd ever intended it to be, and in the end, all the looking back got me moving forwards again, and I'm very grateful for that. 

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Tracey describes her possessiveness over her book and why it's similar to song writing.

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    Hi Tracey - Interesting listening to your book this morning. Heres a question - did you at the beginning admit to being from Brookmans Park ? very unhip place, or did you go for Welham Green The Hilltop or even Potters Bar for a bit of cred. I remember the Poly Well heard some great stuff in the 70's.
    cheers.

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    Comment number 2.

    What absolute joy hearing my all time favourite singer songwriter this morning! I have lived a life punctuated by Tracey's lyrics ('how can I write a letter, the post is so slow') ... such talent. How wonderful to have been able to listen to her, her music and 'feel'. Thanks for sharing, for being and thanks more for a small time cafe conversation in Cardiff in the early 1980's ... just me and Tracey - a memory to treasure forever. xx

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    Comment number 3.

    Good morning Tracy

    How absolutely wonderful to hear you on the radio this morning - so good of you to share your back story... I've been close to tears several times already, esp. when you first went back to Ben's room. You have always been up there for me as one of my favourite poets who happen to do songs, and many of your lyrics have become firmly embedded in my everyday vocabulary. What is it, this connection with some people - either it's there or it isn't.

    Well, good to tell you that, must go to work now, I'll just turn off the lights with a fishing rod

    love

    Michael

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    Comment number 4.

    Tracey - you reading your book - evocative, emotive, wonderful. A sheer poet and songwriter. Brilliant!

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    Comment number 5.

    Hi Tracey,
    Just the best surprise to hear you reading your book. I smiled all the way to where I was going. I really never, ever thought I'd hear the Marine Girls played on Radio 4 – A triumph! I think I still have a postcard somewhere from you at the time of the Marine Girls mulling over why you had no drummer, and also a cassette of your first Peel session from March 1982. Recently I listened to Femme Fatale again for no real reason – it's so much better than the Velvets' version!
    Marvellous. Thank you,
    Martin

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    Comment number 6.

    I'm so enjoying hearing you reading your book. I was aware of all of your hits but my husband introduced me to your back catalogue. Book ordered! Please consider some live stuff. We miss your incredible voice. Thanks for the Christmas album.

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    Comment number 7.

    You don't have to be a contemporary to find it evocative, I got all sorts of echoes from the late 60s, thanks.
    Steve

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    Comment number 8.

    Dave - not sure Potters Bar has more cred! I spent my teenage hood attempting to escape from the dump :) I only caught the last episode just now, so I'm also going to see what mention of Hatfield Girls there is - another of my old stomping grounds - until I escaped in Year 3 :)

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    Comment number 9.

    I had never heard of Tracey Thorn or heard of any of the songs before this reading (sorry!) but how I loved this story and the way it has been told and shall certainly read the book now. It was both very funny and very moving all in an understated sort of way and I have been really drawn in every day. Thanks for your wonderful honesty. Linda

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    Comment number 10.

    Tracey, this has been such a pleasure to listen to this week, not just for your own wonderful story, but for all the memories it has evoked. As another one who grew up in the late 70's early 80's period it's great to hear mention of all those great bands, daft clothes and being in bands that lasted for at most two weeks! happy times and a world away from the naff version of the 80's the TV world seems to have created... now where did I put that Young Marble Giants tape?

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    Comment number 11.

    Hello Tracey,
    Great to hear you reading your book this week, I've really enjoyed listening. You've come a long way from Brookmans Park Village Day and prancing around the Maypole - do you remember?!! Oh what fun! Always happy to hear you on the radio and usually tell anyone nearby that I was friends with you when we were kids. Book is now on order :o)

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    Comment number 12.

    Hello,I think you are fantastic both of you and loved listening to you on Radio 4 giving us a history on you day to day life, I really enjoyed the story when George Michael spotted you outside school, how cool is that. All the best Nick

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    Comment number 13.

    Hello Tracey. I've really enjoyed listening to the Book Of The Week episodes. It's a real pity that they're only available on iPlayer for one week, and not as mp3 downloads. I'll have to get the book. Mike

 

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