The Cruelest Month, Part 1: Hurricane Bettye | MZS

“No, not him,” she said. “His brother.” 

“Grandma had an affair with Robert Oppenheimer’s brother?” I said weakly. “Well, I guess that makes more sense.”

I still don’t know if even that was true. Maybe there was no connection to the Oppenheimer family. Maybe it was Steve Oppenheimer, a podiatrist from Kansas City. Or maybe the last name was Offenheimer. Anything was possible with Mom. 

Genie used to say, “I envy your mother. Every morning she wakes up and she’s a completely different person.”

One time when I was in college, the Screen Actor’s Guild decided to do an emergency fundraiser for some project, and asked mom to do a concert because they thought she could fill seats without much notice. They were right. She filled up a hotel ballroom with 400 seats. She had more or less quit live gigs several years earlier, but there was enough of the legend left to fill a big room. She told me that I was the guest of honor and asked me to pick a song. I chose “Since I Fell For You,” a song I had on repeat while writing a (still unpublished) crime novel. When she got to that point in the program, she said she was dedicating the next one to her oldest son Matt, and pointed me out to the crowd, which applauded. Then she performed “April in Paris,” by Count Basie.

I felt weird even bringing it up afterward, but I had to know what happened, so I told her, “I’m confused—I told you I wanted you to perform ‘Since I Fell For You.'” She blinked a couple of times and said, “Oh, sorry, I must’ve misheard.”

She didn’t catch enough breaks, or was too deeply damaged by her own shortcomings and judgment errors and personal issues, to cross over and become one of those people everybody knows. She was under contract with a studio as a child but never became a movie star. She traveled in the same circles as many extraordinary jazz musicians (including “Blue” Lou Marini, a Dallasite who later became a member of the original Saturday Night Live band) but she never became a jazz star herself, outside of the midwest and southwest. In the mid-1970s, Mom got a contract with RCA Records under the tutelage of singer-songwriter-producer Chet Atkins and went out to Nashville to try to remake herself as a country music star in the vein of one of her biggest idols, Dolly Parton. The label recorded an album of original material in 1976 titled “Passages,” with Mom performing as Bettye Pierce, but when the first single, “The Girl From Prairie Flats,” failed to chart, RCA shelved the album. 

Mom got a couple of things out of the Nashville experience. 

One was an education in pop songwriting craft. 

The other was cocaine.

Mom was an alcoholic and regular drug user from the 1960s on. According to her, she smoked pot and hash, dropped acid, popped uppers and downers and any other pills she could get her hand on, and did mushrooms, but “never anything stronger than that.” She didn’t do powder cocaine until she went to Nashville, where it was everywhere. Bill didn’t approve of drugs, except for wine and booze. Neither did dad (he smoked pot recreationally, but stopped smoking it while composing when he got high one night in 1974 and spent 40 minutes trying to draw a perfect whole note). Cocaine might have been the great love of my mother’s life, I’m sorry to say. Greater than her sons, greater than Bill, greater than my father, greater than music. 

You can view the original article HERE.

Britney Spears Rushes to Vet in Medical Emergency During Birthday Celebration
Boyz II Men turned the Chili’s jingle into a love song
The Best Books For K-Pop Fans
Felicity Huffman on College Admissions Scandal, I Had to Do It for My Daughter
“I Don’t Need People Fainting in the Theater”
Godzilla Minus One movie review (2023)
Slow Horses Season 3 Review
Director and Lead Actor Reveal Insights on the Kaiju’s Most Riveting Film Yet
Julianna Margulies issues apology for offending Black and queer communities
Shane MacGowan’s sister on how ‘Fairytale of New York’ “captured what Christmas was like”
Christopher Nolan says Zack Snyder’s ‘Watchmen’ was “ahead of its time”
DaBaby says losing $200million over homophobic rant was “a blessing in disguise”
Tiger cards up-and-down 70 as Spieth, Scheffler share lead in Bahamas
Can England Win Euro 2024? The Key Factors
USC’s Bronny James cleared for full return
Miller turns himself in after arrest warrant for assaulting pregnant person
Patina Miller & MeKai Curtis Talk Power Book III: Raising Kanan Season 3 & Raq and Kanan’s Relationship
Ncuti Gatwa Takes the Helm with New Images and Narrative for 2023 Seasonal Special
Power Book III: Raising Kanan Season 3 Episode 1 Review: Home Sweet Home
Ke Huy Quan’s OB Depicted as Another Series Character in a Vibrant MCU Concept Art
Cynthia Erivo’s Valentino Look at Alvin Ailey Opening Gala
Inside The Daily’s Visit To Hardy’s Holiday Village and The Grand Lodge at Nemacolin
Cuyana System Tote Review | POPSUGAR Fashion
Matthew Williams Exits Givenchy, New Execs At Fendi, Stella McCartney