(Part I appeared yesterday.)
Girls Like Us, a 539 page hard cover three-in-one biography, is not just about Carly, Carole and Joni. It's about an era, and about the music. It's about the men in the "girls" lives: James Taylor, Neil Young, David Crosby, Bob Dylan and Graham Nash were all in Joni's life in one capacity or another. Graham Nash wrote "Our House" about his life with Joni. Both had been divorced and gun-shy when they met and Joni was afraid to tell him that she had a daughter who she lost to adoption. When she told him: "she poke of the 'shame and guilt and wanting a life' and of the 'rejection' she knew she would have faced from her parents had they known"...She said it was "devastating for her. It had a tremendous effect on her emotional growth." One of the most goose-bumpy are the two descriptions of her meeting two little girls at her shows. One who little girl said her name was Joni; the other said her name was Kelly. At one point Joni says: "Soon after I'd given up my daughter for adoption, I had a house and a car and I had the means, and I'd become a public figure; the combination of those situations did not sit well. So...I began to go inside, and question who I was. And out of that [the title song of Blue] evolved."
Blue, songs are like tattoosGirls Like Us is not just about Joni's loss of her daughter, but also about her daughter's adoptive family and their reunification. Joni's daughter, Kelly Dale born Feb. 1965, she was adopted and renamed Kilauren Gibb. She was placed into a family with a biological son and her adoption was kept a secret, though she was a odd fit: The Gibbs were "timid and uncharismatic... bookish...prim and dour" and not especailly attractive. Kilauren was "headstrong and self-possessed...artistic." Friends describe her as "a renegade spirit, a girl who hung out with the band" and "unapproachably beautiful" enough to have been a Ford model. Hanging our with the band had its consequences. In 1991 Kilauren, at 26, became pregnant -- her boyfriend "a local rock-group drummer." Upon telling her parents about her pregnancy, they decide that this is the perfect moment to reveal the truth: that she's adopted! She almost immediately begins to search. Her search is involves the oddest of coincidences that truly make this a small world with six degrees of separation! 1996 Like me, Joni obtains her first photos of her daughter from the foster mother who had her daughter for seven months. Shortly, after Joni went public with the news that she was searching for her daughter. That same year, her daughter, Kilauren - after five years - gets the final piece to her puzzle that began with non-identifying information. Soon Kilauren and her son marlin are flying to meet Joni. Their reunion is what those of us who understand not just mother/adult-daughter relationships, but also reunited ones, is understandably a roller coaster. But they seem to have navigated it well. In her 40's Joni experiences a miscarriage of a much wanted child. Joni dedicated her last album to her two grandchildren, Marlin and Daisy, both Kilauren's. Sheila Weller is tender and kind in relating all of this. Girls Like Us is a reminiscent "trip" into those lazy, crazy days that makes really goo dreading...and also and has an opportunity to get a true life story of loss in the hands of those who would never read a book about adoption.
You know Ive been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey blue, here is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well there're so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it thru these waves
Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laughs, lots of laughs
Everybody's saying that hells the hippest way to go
Well I don't think so
But I'm gonna take a look around it though
Blue, I love you
Blue, here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me
My thanks to Weller...and my heart goes out to Joni as one mother to another! We love you Joni, we always have! You're one of us... and you have sung for us. You've sung of your loss and your pain, and not with shame! You go girl!
© Mirah Riben, Sept 14, 2008
More again tomorrow...