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February 15, 2007

Book Notes - Evelyn McDonnell ("Mamarama")

Calling Evelyn McDonnell's Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’Roll a parenting memoir is too easy. McDonnell guides us through her life and the music and alternative culture that she embraced (and continues to hold dear), from her childhood infatuation with Michael Jackson through her infatuation with rock drummers and Riot Grrls. When faced with the adventure of motherhood, this music critic accepts the challenge with humor and dedication to her son and belief system, making this a memoir any music fan will enjoy.

In her own words, here is Evelyn McDonnell's Book Notes entry for her memoir, Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’Roll:

Some people fantasize about who will play them in the movie of their life. I think about the soundtrack. Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’Roll is as much about my lifelong obsession with pop, punk, funk, rock, hip-hop, R&B, etc., as it as about my long odyssey to parenthood.

The first playlist I came up with, of songs that were mentioned in or captured a mood or moment of the book, had more than 100 tracks. (I gave it to the DJ who’s spinning at my Feb. 16 launch party in Miami; you can also see it at Then I honed it down to the essentials: 50. Finally I got brutal. Below are the tunes that without which, there would be no Mamarama; sometimes, I feel like there would be no me.

Mecca Normal, “Narrow”: Jean Smith sets an analogous moral compass as I set out to retrace my life steps.

Jackson 5, “The LoveYou Save”: Michael was my first crush; my judgment of characters never did get much better.

The Runaways, “Queens of Noise”: At one point, Mamarama was called Queen of Noise, a title that seemed to capture both my punk heydaze and current anarchic household.

Cheap Trick, “Surrender”: Scene: couch in drummer boyfriend’s basement. Activity: making out.

Patti Smith, “Because the Night”: Because it’s by my two fave rock troubadours: Bruce and Patti.

Iggy Pop, “Lust for Life”: My hero and these days, my neighbor.

Marvin Gaye, “Sexual Healing”: Rrrroowwwrrr.

Spoonie Gee, “The Big Beat”: Best sound effect on a 45 ever: squeaking mattress.

Throwing Muses, “Stand Up”: And I scream.

Yoko Ono, “New York Woman”: Sex and the city.

American Music Club, “Mission Rock”: Lonely hearts club band.

Tribe 8, “Frat Pig”: Lynn Breedlove is the dyke Iggy Pop.

Bikini Kill, “Double Dare Ya”: Double f*cking dare ya.

Joy Division/New Order, “Ceremony”: The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end.

Henry Mancini, “Moon River”: I aspired to be Audrey Hepburn but was always more Katherine.

Bruce Springsteen, “The River”: The life aquatic part 2.

Troggs, “Wild Thing”: For my husband and his daughters.

Joan Jett, “Bad Reputation”: Ultimate fem rocker anthem.

Missy Elliott, “Sock It 2 Me”: Best line: “My hormones are jumping like a disco.’’

TLC, “Unpretty”: The Beauty Myth in song.

Jacki-O, “Ghetto World”: A more vivid portrait of Miami than Rick Ross has ever painted.

Spam Allstars, “Ochimini”: Ah, to be young and beyond borders in a smoky Little Havana club at the start of the 21st century.

Kelis, “Milkshake”: Pregnant, and then nursing, women’s anthem.

Aretha Franklin, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”: Whatever that is.

Velvet Underground, “After Hours”: Lullaby I tortured my son with.

Xavier Cugat, “Besame Mucho”: Bolero Cole’s first nanny tortured him with.

The Pretenders, “I’m a Mother”: Except for Iggy, Chrissie Hynde is the coolest person in the world.

Jay-Z, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”: Because I still go for those bad boys.

PJ Harvey, “50 Foot Queenie”: For man-sized action heroines everywhere.

see also:

the book's website
the author's website
Mamarama blog
an excerpt from the book

Los Angeles Times review
Time Out New York review
Neal Pollack reviews the book

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create and discuss a playlist for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)


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