Mothers’ Day : From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

When Nirvana catapulted drummer Dave Grohl to fame, his Mum, Virginia, was surprised to be the mother of a Rock Star. Then when Dave reinvented himself as frontman of the Foo Fighters, Virginia quit teaching and began to travel the road. She didn’t often meet other mothers at gigs, but always wanted to talk to them about how music shaped their lives.

From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the mothers who rocked and raised rock stars by Virginia Hanlon Grohl. Image supplied by Hachette New Zealand.
From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl. Image supplied by Hachette New Zealand.

Eventually Virginia embarked (in her seventies), on a two-year journey to find the “special sorority of mothers of musicians” with whom she could talk about “the trials and joys of raising creative children.” The result is her new book From Cradle to Stage: My son the rock star and the remarkable stories from the mothers who rocked and raised music’s greatest.

Like herself, many of these moms raised their kids solo, holding down several jobs to keep food on the table. While some mothers were okay with their kids quitting school to commit to music, others weren’t – Verna Griffin, Dr Dre’s Mom, worried that her son would be absorbed into the gang scene. (Dr Dre is 51 now!)

Virginia grew up in the Midwest, but Dave and his sister Lisa grew up in Washington, D.C. – a much more sophisticated environment. As a young mother she shared her music with her children (Dave remembers learning to harmonize along with Carly Simon on the car radio) and as he got older, Dave was sharing hard rock and metal with Virgina.

With a foreword from Dave himself, From Cradle to Stage is a tribute to the mothers who encouraged their kids to be creative and follow that star.

Sprinkled with personal ‘vignettes’ from Viriginia, Dave, Nirvana and the Foos, From the Cradle to the Stage chronicles the lives of eighteen musicians – from the army background of Michael Stipe , the early beginnings of The Beastie Boys, to the tragic end to the lives of  Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain.

I really like her style. A former English teacher, Virginia writes a relaxed, entertaining, and at times moving story. It’s not only about people’s lives and roots,  but contains slices of American history as well. It’s so interesting to read of each artists’ first sparks to creativity. For Dr Dre, it was GrandMaster Flash. Yeah.

This book is for everyone. The musicians cover a range of ages and even your Mum/Mom would enjoy it (Virginia even blanks out the F-words).

The mother of the ‘nicest guy in rock’ knows her stuff – using some pretty sophisticated terms (e.g. Minority Rap, Thug Rap in Dr Dre’s chapter – not Gangster Rap) but the last word goes to Dave:

There is no love like a mother’s love. It is life’s greatest song. We are all indebted to the women who gave us life. For without them, there would be no music.

Listen to Kim Hill interviewing Virginia Hanlon Grohl 22 April  RNZ

From Cradle to Stage: My son the rock star and the remarkable stories from the mothers who rocked and raised music’s greatest
by Virginia Hanlon Grohl
Published by Hachette New Zealand
ISBN: 9781473639560

Five Forget Mother’s Day

If you’d told me when I was ten years old that I’d still enjoy a Famous Five tale 30 years later I’d have been thrilled. If you’d told me that at 15 I’d have been mortified. Such is the inextricable (and uncool) bond that Enid Blyton’s youthful sleuths have with childhood, innocence, and jolly good fun.

But things have changed and so have George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy. Get ready for “Enid Blyton for Grown-ups”.

Cover of Five Forget Mothers Day

The former Dorset-based cousins now flat together in London, have office jobs, mobile phones, and drinking problems (Julian). It’s now less “lashings of ginger beer” and more “out on the lash at the local”. Author Bruno Vincent’s reworking of Blyton’s much beloved characters incorporates humorous observations on modern life, knowing nods, and is positively soaked in irony.

Take, for example, George’s response to Anne’s suggestion that they all chip in for a Mother’s Day gift for Aunt Fanny, since she was practically a second mother to them all during their summers in Kirrin.

…My memory is that we were nearly killed about two dozen times. I think Mummy should count herself lucky to have escaped a custodial sentence for neglect…

Five Forget Mother’s Day sees the now young professionals grappling with mysteries of the “what do we get Aunt Fanny for Mother’s Day?” variety.

It’s a fun, quick read that somehow manages to be witty and modern whilst still retaining that “don’t worry, old bean, we’ll all muck in together and get through this sticky wicket” attitude that typified the original Famous Five.

An unexpected benefit of this particular title in the series (others on my “to read” list include “Five Go Parenting” and “Five on Brexit Island“), is that if you leave it lying around, your co-parent might take this as a passive-aggressive hint that Mother’s Day is Not To Be Forgotten. In my case this effect was unintentional, but it could perhaps be strategically deployed in families where forgetfulness is rife?

Five Forget Mother’s Day; conspicuously visible on a couch arm near you?

Five Forget Mother’s Day
by Bruno Vincent
Published by Hachette New Zealand
ISBN: 9781786486868

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Kia ora and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums. Here are some Mums of days gone by:

Mothers and babies gathered outside St. Helen’s Hospital, Sydenham CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0075

The hospital, a wooden building in Durham Street, Sydenham, had been opened about two years earlier. It was a birthing place for the wives of working men. The hospital was, like other hospitals, named St. Helen’s to commemorate the birthplace of the recently deceased Premier, Richard John Seddon (1845-1906).


Proud mothers and their chubby children. Prize- winners in the baby competition, which was a feature of the picnic held at Kowhai [Kowai] Bush, by the combined staffs of the Christchurch City Council. The weekly press, 1 Feb. 1928, p. 37

And some mother photos from our Flickr site:
Mother and daughter Mother and Daughters in Cathedral Square Family Portrait Off to Church Four Generations   The Riley Elf

Four Generations of women

For more Mother pictures, have a look at the Digital NZ set Mums.

Happy Mother’s Day

Kia ora and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums. Here are some Mums of days gone by:

Mothers and babies gathered outside St. Helen’s Hospital, Sydenham
The hospital, a wooden building in Durham Street, Sydenham, had been opened about two years earlier. It was a birthing place for the wives of working men. The hospital was, like other hospitals, named St. Helen’s to commemorate the birthplace of the recently deceased Premier, Richard John Seddon (1845-1906).


Proud mothers and their chubby children
Prize-winners in the baby competition, which was a feature of the picnic held at Kowhai [Kowai] Bush, by the combined staffs of the Christchurch City Council.

And some mother photos from our Flickr site:
Mother and Daughter Mother and daughter Mother and Daughters in Cathedral Square Family Portrait Off to Church Four Generations Feeding Time Mum and Eli My Cool Jeans on Mum The Riley Elf Leaving the Farm

Four Generations of women

For more Mother pictures, have a look at the Digital NZ set Mums.

The meanest mothers in literature

CoverMothers’ Day – a  time to honour lovely mothers in literature? Nah. Mothers like Marmee in Little women are all very well but the meanies are much more interesting.  Fairy tales aside (Hansel and Gretel’s mum must be right up there), there are a few real horrors in fiction. My top three are, in no particular axis of evil order:

Ellen, A. M. Homes’ birth mother in The mistress’s daughter. When Homes was 31, Ellen sent her a message to say she wouldn’t mind hearing from her. Homes responded but this was one reunion story that did not end well. Ellen comes across as a terrifyingly needy creature: turning up unnanounced at book readings, demanding to be adopted and looked after by her own daughter and finally asking for a kidney.

Deidre, Augusten Burroughs’ mother in Running with scissors. Burroughs says of  her “My mother began to go crazy. Not crazy in a let’s paint the kitchen bright red! sort of way. But crazy in a gas oven, toothpaste sandwich, I am God sort of way.” Deidre’s search to find herself  unfortunately entailed losing her son, or at least mislaying him.  She sent Augusten to live with her highly unorthodox psychiatrist, whose ideas about guardianship put more emphasis on the loco than the parentis.  

coverIngrid in White oleander. In prison for murdering her boyfriend, the best advice she can give her daughter Astrid is to look after her teeth and “never lie down for the father”.  Nice.

(Dis)honourable mentions:

Any advances on these mean literary mothers?