How wonderful to see Tracey Thorn praised and celebrated once again. Quite right too. I can’t help smiling when commentators er, comment favourably on her tweets or seem surprised she has produced a well-written autobiography. Of course she’s produced a great book. She can write! She’s dead clever and she’s one the biggest influences on my little life!
I first discovered Tracey 30 years ago on Cherry Red’s compliation Pillows and Prayers. This 99p LP featured her not once but three times as a solo artist, as guitarist and chief songwriter with the Marine Girls and as one half of the duo Everything but the Girl.
Her voice, her lyrics, her politics and her effortless cool poured off the vinyl into my ears. It warmed my teenage soul and fuelled my imagination. I wanted to be like her so I picked up a guitar and tried writing songs. I didn’t get very far with the guitar but I stuck with the writing and over the years I have derived a huge amount of inspiration from Tracey’s lyrics and singing.
I wrote a fan letter to her in the mid 1980s and we had a short-lived correspondence. In one of my letters I asked if she had ever gone out with a certain chap. I got my wires crossed over this guy and ended up telling her a different name. She sent back a postcard with her answer. It was a black and white image of Garbo with pin marks in the corners. Had it been pinned on my heroine’s wall? In her distinctive handwriting she wrote: “I don’t recall going with [him] but you know how boys do brag…” You know how boys do brag. What a phrase! Why, I could almost here her singing it on her solo album, A Distant Shore.
I followed my heroine to Hull University where I studied the same subject, English. I remember asking one of the lecturers what Tracey was like. Without hesitating he said: “She was the brightest student I have ever encountered.”
Intelligent, talented, successful…what a woman. What a heroine.