Oh, Los Angeles… it’s always bittersweet being here. I moved here in 1997. The year of my divorce, the death of my father, my record label dropping me, my publishing deal being rescinded, my dog dying… in retrospect you couldn’t have written a more intense sequence of events. Well… I guess that’s always arguable! (I did fall in love too.)
The topper of the maudlin list? We were all convinced my mother was “not long for this world” - as she would have put it. Skin cancer.
In 1999 she moved in with me for a year. My play “My Mother Has Four Noses” covers some of what happened in that time. There were awful, harrowing stretches, and there were also times when her humor and spirit just stopped me in my tracks. She restored ME. Her incredible resilience, and love…. I know how lucky I am.
Needless to say, each time I’m here, those feelings flood back. Our mother daughter schtick - (we were partners in her wacky show) - and the sticky impasses of each of us holding our respective ground over the larger questions.
We did a little workshop of “4 Noses” Sunday evening. My first time trying the show “off book.” I was terrified when I started, but the audience was stellar. They got the ‘funny’ - they got the ‘tragic absurdity’ - I keep saying this, but it’s true. I am so grateful for those of you who are supporting in myriad ways the development of this story. It feels precious, in the best way, and I can’t thank you enough for your kindnesses in this long process.
I was supposed to begin mixing my new record this week while I was here. But it turns out Bruce Springsteen needed some time with my mentor and champion Bob Clearmountain. And when Bruce calls, we all listen!! So we will now be mixing in May.
I will try edit together some clips of the “reading” to share with you all soon. Meanwhile, tickets are on sale for the Torrington, CT DEBUT of “4 Noses” June 29!!!
Til then, Thanks so much for your patience.
This is how I get ready for the show… I am, after all, my mother’s daughter.
JBmore at jonatha
I have to say it’s been a real treat to get to know some of you a little bit through these skype concerts and lullabyes. I recognize some faces, and very quickly, newer faces become familiar. We are telling the same stories.
What keeps astounding me is the humor and love we all share surrounding whatever loss each of us has faced or will face. Like a current that seems to draw all of us in, close to the surface, and carry us along.
I’ve been working on orchestrating the play for the workshops with Ben Butler….
Ben’s cigar box guitar
And especially through these skype moments I realize - What a year! – losing mom and then throwing myself headlong into our story. It’s cathartic for sure, but also intense in that I’ve chosen to keep digging into it. So I can’t NOT think about her, see her image, the film I took of her, her poems.
Next Friday is the anniversary of the day my dearest friends from all over the country flew in to be at my Lincoln Center Concert at the Allen Room. Something I will never ever ever forget. It was an overwhelmingly intense time – mom winding down, me deep into preparing and rehearsing for the show. All that love in each and every room. Isn’t it often like that somehow? We are given the exquisite extremes to experience all at once?
I think it was on my birthday just a few days later that mom had a brief rally – clear as day she told me “You are getting more and more beautiful, I love you so.”
She passed on January 31. It was a beautiful crisp clear, sunny day.
My grandmother Amelia’s words of wisdom!
I talk a bit in the play about the current that has always run between us. How each of us always knew when to call, when to push, when to back off. That’s what is still very present. And it bolsters my confidence when I flag. There’s this current that she instilled in me, steady and strong, down the song lines.
more at jonatha