I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, July 10, 2017

From Cradle To Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

Virginia Hanlon Grohl, mother of Dave Grohl, drummer for Nirvana, and lead singer, guitarist and creative force behind the Foo Fighters, was questioning to herself if other mothers went through the same things she went through with Dave when he was growing up with his music.  She looked around at the festivals and concerts but didn't see other mothers there and wondered where they were.  Her best friend told her to go and find them and ask them.  So she did and this book is the result.

 Miranda Lambert's parents met when her mom Bev went to cheerleading camp at Southern Methodist University and Rick, a narcotics officer was working undercover. Bev swore that she would marry that man and during her freshman year in college she hunted him down and congratulated him on his engagement--to her. They've been together ever since. Rick and Bev would open their own private investigation company which was very successful during the oil boom of the 1970s and early 1980s when there was plenty of money to go around to spend.  Miranda was even used in some of the operations.  During one operation she was sent dressed as a junior high cheerleader selling something to scope out a place to see if she could spot what her parents were looking for.  But when the oil crash happened they lost everything.  However, they were hired to investigate Bill Clinton for Paula Jones's lawyers.  They took a lot of crap for that.

Miranda took an early interest in music. There was always music in the house as Rick had been a songwriter and guitar player in a country band.  As a child, Miranda had been shy so Bev thought she would grow up to be a choir teacher. Not something in the spotlight. Then a talent show for that area of Texas came up and she was eager to try out.  While she didn't win, she became addicted to the applause.  She finished high school early and her parents took to managing her career booking gigs and making a CD.  Bev and Miranda would butt heads as Miranda was at an age when she wanted to be more independent and Bev it seemed was trying to manage her life, but the two worked it out.  When Nashville Star came around Miranda tried out at Fort Worth, Texas and bombed. Her mother instead of consoling her told her was furious and told her why she bombed--that she had picked the wrong song, the wrong outfit and had the wrong demeanor.  So when the show went to Houston she supported her and pushed her forward to try again and this time she slammed it.  While she didn't win Nashville Star it was what got her noticed and she would eventually get a record deal.  While her parents don't manage her anymore they still have a hand in the business. Miranda knows that if they ever overstep she can tell them to back off and they will.  Miranda has won hundreds of honors including the Grammy's, too many to count Country Music Association Awards, and an unheard-of seven consecutive awards for female vocalists of the year from the Academy of Country Music.

Born Gary Lee Weinrib, he is best known as Geddy Lee (Geddy comes from the way his mother pronounces Gary.  He legally changed his name to Geddy as an adult.), the lead singer, bassist, and keyboardist for the band Rush has a mother with a very interesting life story. Mary is from Poland and during World War II when the Germans invaded and took over her town, Starachowice.  In 1942 the Jews in the ghetto were gathered together in the marketplace to be separated into two groups. One would be sent to Treblinka, a death camp while the other would be sent to Auschwitz a work camp. Mary was chosen to be sent to the death camp, but her mother grabbed her and snuck her into the group to be sent to the work camp.  While she had worked in the ghetto making ovens she had met a young man named Morris Weinrib and the two had fallen in love. They would be evacuated to Bergen-Belsen from Auschwitz in 1944 as the Russian army advanced.  Morris would go looking for her after the war and he would find her.  Together they decided to move to Canada.  They started off working in a sewing factory until Morris had enough money to open his own shop.

Geddy grew up in a strict religious household that held family paramount.  Sunday was set aside for being together where they went to the park and went swimming and picnicked then went to the drive-in at night.  His grandmother lived with them and held the family together.  When Geddy was twelve his father died and Mary went into a deep depression and couldn't get out of bed. It would be Geddy who would tell her that Dad would want her to keep the store open and run it herself that would get her back up and go again.  And though she had no idea how to do it she figured it out by herself and the kids helped her in what way they could.  When he was a kid his sister had been the one to have what she felt were the dreaded piano lessons. One day when the teacher was having tea with his mother they heard the piano piece his sister had been butchering before played perfectly. They got up to congratulate her on getting it right when they found Geddy behind the keys. He had figured out how to play it by ear.  After working extra hard in the store she asks him how she can repay him and he tells her he wants a guitar so she buys him one and soon he has figured out how to play it.  Mary wanted her sons to grow up to be doctors and scientists and change the world.  She insisted that they have the education that she missed out on.  But Geddy would disappoint her on that score. He had stellar grades until he hit high school and Rush was being formed.  He was trying to go to school and gigs and sleep and school was what was suffering.  The guidance counselor had a talk with her about how he had a real chance here and how he had to pursue it.  Geddy would graduate high school. He felt he owed his mother that, but he would not be going on to college. Music and another path were calling his name.  But in 2014 Geddy accepted an honorary Ph.D. from Nipissing University and his response to the crowd was that his mom finally got her wish. She had a doctor for a son.

Mary Morello, Tom Morello's of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave mom, is a very interesting woman.  Born in 1924 to Italian parents she went to college at the University of Illinois where she majored in history and then got a job teaching gym.  After she had to go home to take over her father's bar for a year while he recovered, the desire to travel the world kicked in and so began her journey.  She left in 1948 for Europe and taught school there for a time.  Then on to Asia where she taught in Japan.  Then she went back to school to get her master's degree in history and African studies at Loyola University.  After hearing a speech by Tom Mboya one of the leaders of the new nation of Kenya she headed to a Kikuyu, Kenya high school to teach. There she met Ngethe Njoroge, a young revolutionary, whom she married.  They moved to New York where they had Tom. The marriage did not last and Mary for a while stayed in Harlem until her family called her home. It took a while for her to find a job because they knew about her marriage to an African man.  And finding a place to stay was even tougher.  The realtor had to get signed slips saying that everyone in the neighborhood was fine with them living there. He "sold" the idea by saying that Tom was not a regular black child but an African child and somehow better.  Tom says that it wasn't too bad with some exceptions like when they found a noose in their garage or the KKK literature left at Mary's teaching job.  Mary was very outspoken against many causes and began the organization Parents for Rock and Rap, a national anti-censorship group that was fighting the Parents Music Resource Center who sought to censor music played on the radio and where it could be sold.

Tom's grades were always great and he ended up graduating from Harvard with honors. He had thought about going to South Africa and joining the military wing of Nelson Mandla's African National Congress but figured that he should "arm himself intellectually".  It was at Harvard that he formed a band.  As a young man, they traveled together, though after a while Tom would stay in the car and read Lord of the Rings rather than go see another old church.  That has carried on into his adult life. The morning after a concert he is up early to see the sights of the city he is in.  He says that he believed for a long time that all mothers were as kind and supportive as she was. She just let him go and be a musician without a word against the idea.  He credits it to her own upbringing and being allowed to wander the world on her own for as long as she wanted with support from her dad.  He also credits her with helping to make him socially conscious which comes out in his music.

Also included in this book are little vignettes by Virginia Grohl about Dave or the lives that she has come in contact with.  Throughout this book, a vast majority of those mothers interviewed, including Dr. Dre, Haim, Mike D, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine, Amy Winehouse, Michael Stipe, and Zac Brown, talked about how their children had trouble in school starting around junior high school.  They would get distracted by and obsessed with the music that was quickly taking over their lives.  Their grades would suffer and they would either drop out of high school or barely graduate.  Kelly Clarkson's mom had to go before a judge to explain her lateness and truancy from school.  But the one thing these moms had in common is that they believed in their children.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cradle-Stage-Stories-Mothers-Rocked-ebook/dp/B01HZFB0CY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499691852&sr=8-1&keywords=from+cradle+to+stage

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