From earliest childhood, Mum’s singing was more or less a constant feature in my life.
When I was about four, just before starting school, I can recall sitting at Fortune’s Barn in Bradford, New Hampshire watching my beautiful mum in her bronze lame’ mini-dress belting out Patsy Cline covers to an appreciative audience, though whether I appreciated her throaty voice more than the softserve ice cream is up for debate.
Hey, I was four!
But seriously, folks… when mum sings, even to this day, people listen. In the height of her career, my mother’s voice was virtually indistinguishable from Patsy’s. When I listen to Crazy and close my eyes, I see and hear my mother, a gorgeous lady in her late twenties, with a voice like a velvet freight train.
That same year, my mum brought me up on stage with her to sing Skeeter Davis’ “I Don’t Wanna Play House,” which was my most favourite song ever, even if I had no clue it was all to do with the pain of divorce. That, sadly, was a pain I felt for real only a couple of years later.
Weirdly, I did actually meet my idol, Skeeter, along the pathway of mum’s singing career, and also Dolly, as I have mentioned before. (You can read about those brief encounters here.)
Mum sang initially with the Pinetones at Fortune’s Barn and later with the Boutin Brothers, and a band she fronted called Country Sunshine. I have vivid memories of band practices taking over our living room, and of her hand painting the band’s logo, a giant sunflower on a black backdrop, onto the bass drum skin. Somehow, she managed to land a TV slot on our local station, a half hour slice of the television netherland that was late afternoon. Oh, the excitement we felt as kids, all five of us gathered around the bulging eye of our black and white set to watch our mum entertain the world.
I was in second grade at the time, and thanks in large part to my wonderful teacher, Miss LaValley, mum was invited to come to our school to sing. She came with her guitarist, and the two of them put on a little show for my classmates. She gave out glossy signed photographs to the teachers.
Oh, this was not the big time, I know. This was Sacred Heart School in Lebanon, New Hampshire, a concert on the playground. But this was my mum. In my eyes, she was a superstar, no question about it.
And thus she remains to this day.
p.s. My mum is currently in hospital, having suffered stroke-like symptoms Friday night. We are currently awaiting news on whether multiple occluded arteries in her head can be stented… This has been a very rough few days for our whole family, as you may imagine. All thoughts are with mum at the minute… and my mind takes me back to happy memories. It is the best way I know to cope.
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