1973: Anne and I play Magic Garden in her backyard. For those of you who don’t remember this PBS kid’s show, it featured two singers, Carol and Paula, kind of the apolitical, vanilla Indigo Girls of the 70s, doing skits and singing at the base of fake tree with a squirrel puppet named Seymour. Carol had beautiful blonde, wavy hair and a pretty name. Paula had mousy brown pigtails and, well, was named Paula. But she did play the guitar. Playing Magic Garden involved, basically, fighting over who got to be Carol. I argued that my name gave me the stronger claim. I don’t recall us getting much past this dispute into any kind of game.
1979: Jennifer and I aspire to be backup singers. We can sing pretty well (we can certainly do-wop ok), we figure we can wear the cute outfits, dance around, and shoulder none of the responsiblity of fronting a band. We practice in her family’s basement TV room.
1981-85: In high school, I sing in the chorus for performances of Oklahoma! and Guys And Dolls.
1988: Junior year at Oxford, Robin and I buy tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at London’s Wembley Stadium. We’ve been singing the songs off Tunnel of Love all spring, and cook up an elaborate plan to sneak backstage to meet The Boss. At the last minute, we discover the show is all carnival seating and we chicken out.
That summer, my sister and I go see Mel Torme at the Hollywood Bowl.
2006: I learn that a former “faculty brat,” the daughter of my high school history teacher, is a contestant on Rock Star Supernova. I have to tune in.
I’d known that Storm (really; and her last name is Large) was a rocker. We’d run into each other on the NYC subway in 1991; I was on my way to publishing job, she was on her way home from a gig. On my wedding night, I discovered that she was playing the club next door to our hotel, and briefly considered going in to dance in my wedding dress. Now here she is, in the final five of a reality show where the contestants compete to become the lead singer of Supernova, a band fronted by Tommy Lee.
I love it. The guys in Supernova, who are probably around my age but wear their years hard, say “chick” and “dig it” without irony, and a weak performance is “sauteed in wrong sauce.” They make me feel young. The contestants (2 women now, and 3 men), meanwhile, who are pierced and tattooed and wear more eye shadow in one night than I will in my lifetime, make me feel very old, very much a mortgage-paying, carpool-driving, sectional-sofa-sitting, tv-watching mom. And the music, some Bowie and the Beatles, but also a lot of stuff I don’t know, the music isn’t really my music anymore. But I don’t care, because they are really fun to watch. I don’t think Storm will win; I think either the hot Aussie guy or the soulful Icelandic dad will beat her out. Still, I’ll watch as long as she’s up there rocking because she can belt out a song, and I knew her when she was ten, and she’s as close as I’m getting to any rock star.