From Kathy & Jimmy

Re: The Go-Go’s Movie


You make some good observations, as usual. But also as usual, there’s a lot more to the story. Richard Gottehrer was the perfect producer, and had the foresight to make a classic album in terms of production. When a Go-Go’s song is heard in 2020 there’s no telltale gated snare drum or cheesy synths to date it right back to 1981. More than anything, he agreed to make the album for $40k, which was the entirety of the budget. When we went over, he kicked in his own money to finish. And Mike Chapman did want to produce the Go-Go’s when we had access to the sort of budget he’d require, and signed on for a 4th album. But we were already on fire—and not in the good way.

And Our Lips are Sealed, I agree, what a perfect song. Never tire of playing it. Released June 12, 1981—but it took 6 months, until the week of Dec 12 to get to #20, where it stayed for a little over a week before heading down. Kudos to IRS and Michael Plen in particular who didn’t give up and worked that single without all the clout and money other labels could throw behind a record.

Starting in August, MTV added the video. So while MTV certainly played a big part in breaking the band, beaming a bunch of cool, fun gals into peoples living rooms—there were so many other working pieces.
Namely the 5 of us. We never stopped. Day in, day out, press, phoners, radio, sound check, show. Every single town we played, we visited the radio stations, smiled and took pics, did their station IDs and answered the questions and yukked it up at the morning jock jokes.
And when playlist adds from big radio program directors were announced in that Quarterback Flash or whatever it was called each Friday, nada. No Go-Go’s.

College DJs played the single, DJs at big stations with some power to slip in a few singles of their own choosing, like Oedipus in Boston for one example—they played a role in us being heard. A November Saturday Night Live appearance catapulted us, even though we were half blotto in the performance. Opening for the Police in arenas helped us, just like Miles Copeland knew it would.

But there was also the timing. The timing always plays a part! The magic part. It’s just a synchronicity. In1981 the recession was just getting started, AIDS too, as well as Iran-Contra. There was an unease and uncertainty for a lot of people in this country, that things might be getting bad, and the Go-Go’s were uplifting. The right band at the right time.

Lucky for us, we had another strong single to follow up “Our Lips Are Sealed.” And after that, “Vacation” pushed the band down the road a little further.

And just as all those elements were relevant and important to the success, there was no big single reason it fell apart. I think you can put all the “usual suspect” reasons of substance & alcohol abuse, rampant egos, and income inequality, under one big umbrella of just being immature, undeveloped humans without much capacity for communicating or compassion. Oh well.

I’ve gotten close to a hundred of messages, emails, texts and phone calls since the Go-Go’s film aired on Showtime. It’s amazing to me what a wide swath of reactions I’m hearing. People wistful, people who didn’t know the back story. People inspired, people proud to have been there, people who want to tell me what the band meant to them. People who gripe about what was left out. People from similar heyday bands that got triggered being reminded of a band in-fighting. People who noticed things that shouldn’t have gotten past QC. It’s been mind-blowing.

I really like that you point out that the fact we were women wasn’t a cause for the difficulties. I get sick of that tired old catfighting bitchy trope, and always point out all the guys in bands who have similar issues. From Creedence to Guns n Roses, it’s hard to be in a band. But what makes the Go-Go’s endurance special is that we always, no matter what, overcome grudges, resentments, betrayals, hurts and disagreements.
And it’s not to cash in on the “oldies circuit.”

It’s because there is a bond that was forged by growing up together all while experiencing something extraordinary.

We (the present day Go-Go’s) don’t expect to have hits. And anyone in their 60’s realizes that chasing relevance might be time better spent nurturing contentment. But everyone wants to be recognized for their contributions, and we did contribute. We always knew we did. We’ve heard it all along, from adults who found inspiration, solace and hope when they were kids and adolescents seeing the Go-Go’s. We’ve heard it from a litany of musicians and artists that surprised even us.
I hope the film brings some of the respect and recognition that has eluded this band!

Kathy Valentine


Subject: Buffett here-not Warren

Hey Bob

How are you? Just read your piece on Mac, and I too know that Mississippi shy boy thing is not fake. Also as a fellow Mississippian, but from the bayous of Pascagoula, not the “nawth” part of the stage, I just wanted you to take comfort in the fact, that those of us from Mississippi, still can’t figure it out. As you might know, I have been a shameless promoter of Mac for a long time, and really wanted to thank you for the portrait you paint of one of the most talented writers and solo performers that I have ever met, who also happens to be one of my closest friends. That is why I chased him down and made him join the Coral Reefer Band. If I am Captain Kirk, then Mac is Spock, and Mike Utley is Dr McCoy, as we travel the musical universe together. I have to confess, I have not heard a single song on the album yet, because Mac hasn’t sent me one ha ha. I guess I better order one on Mailboat and sit back and dig it like you did, as the hurricane passes over Sag Harbor this afternoon. I will be in the studio to listen to the vinyl ref of “Life on the Flip Side” and will dove tail right into Mac’s. Then I can talk about it after listening to it, if you need me too. Stay safe and I will be back in LA for a week at the end of September, and will check in with you then, and maybe we can grab a covid cocktail.

Fins Up


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