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Monday, November 28, 2022

Review: Virginia Hanlon Grohl – From Cradle to Stage

Publisher: Seal Press

Date: April 18th, 2017

Here’s a side of the story rarely heard. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even heard about an attempt like this. And it’s extremely important. Likely the most important. The one without whom there would be no art. Period! No art, for crying out loud! Imagine that world, if you can!? What a grey place to live in…

It’s the parents’ side of the rock ‘n’ roll story. Moreover, it’s the mother’s tale. And not to be an overgenerous gentleman, of a closeted feminist in a body of a middle-aged man, but I do view a mother’s role as more important than the father’s. Especially in a show business state of affairs. I remember an episode in my family when I stumbled pissed drunk at my own doorstep, to the absolute dismay of my mom and rabid laughter of my dad. There’s a difference. A father will likely condone a bit of sex, booze and all-night-long partying. But the mother will worry “if she’s not just taking advantage of her precious” (not to mention the venereal diseases). Or if you couldn’t have fun with a glass of orange juice instead of a gallon of beer.

And don’t even get me started on drug abuse. We all know it goes hand in hand with fame, fortune and rock ‘n’ roll.

Now, I’ll never be a mom. The way it sits, I will hardly even get a chance to be a father. But the way I see it, being a mom is a job you clock-in to when you give birth and clock-out on the day you die. A twenty four hour, seven days a week, lifelong job. You never relax. Not even if you’re a mother to a “regular” person, let alone to a rock star. Even if your loved one escapes the usual traps, like those mentioned above, you still get side-trapped by the cases of John Lennon or “Dimebag” Darrell. All it takes is that one crazed fan, and your kid meets thousands on a daily basis.

So, how do you live with it? Let’s ask Mrs. Hanlon Grohl. The rock star mom of David Grohl.

Actually, with “From Cradle to Stage” you will get to hear a multitude of experiences. Mrs. Hanlon Grohl went out of her way to meet the mothers of other music stars and talk with them about their super talented kids.

Now, most of these conversations revolve around biographical details. Moms’ and their kids’ alike. Nevertheless, Mrs. Grohl always takes the time to discuss details, thus gathering a collection of parenting tips. Basically, if your kid is falling out of the standardized drawers of society, this is the book to read. The case may be that all the moms interviewed for the sake of this book are the mothers of music stars, it was probably the easiest for Mrs. Hanlon Grohl to connect with her peers, but this is a textbook for parents of all sorts of “different” children. Artistically inclined, or otherwise. In essence, if you’re not raising a nerdy future stock broker or a square blue-blooded fake royalty, your child will appreciate what you learn from this book. Poetically written, like you would expect from a mother describing motherhood, but also focused on the goal at hand.

If I was to criticize anything regarding “From Cradle to Stage” it would be that the majority of the book is filled with more or less good kids, who aimed for “peaceful” music genres. Their only fault being their hyperactivity and lack of interest in traditional education. The lack of real troublemakers and tabloid feeders. And I’m not pointing it out for obvious reasons. I’m definitely not looking for voyeurish pleasures, embarrassing details or anything of the sort. Simply, I think those experiences could provide the most useful information for the parents of future stars. Like the unimaginable horrors survived by Mrs. Winehouse and Mrs. Cobain O’Connor, both featured in “From Cradle to Stage”. Unfortunately, these kinds of destinies are also parts of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Even more unfortunately, they are not rare, so it is my belief that Mrs. Hanlon Grohl could focus a bit more on that. Hand out advice. If there is anything good to take away from these terrible destinies, it’s to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone ever again. Or, let us not be overly optimistic, at least make it a rare accident.

The author herself even makes a remark about it by the end of the book, in one of those short “vignettes”. After all, who’s to say we won’t get to read the second tome of “From Cradle to Stage”. I see there’s also a documentary series focusing on the book, too. Kudos, Mrs. Hanlon Grohl! A grandma nowadays and one to admire!

This book not only epitomizes a great idea and a worldview we don’t even think about, let alone hear and see, it’s a textbook, a recipe book and a guide. Everything but another “tale of rock ‘n’ roll’s frontrunners”.