I wanted to love From the Cradle to the Stage, but alas I did not.
Back in December I stumbled across the television documentary series based on this book on Paramount + from 2021. The show featured author Virginia Hanlon Grohl and her son Dave visiting a musician and their mothers to investigate the experience of raising and parenting a professional musician. I thought the show was great and requested the book through my library’s interlibrary loan system before I finished watching all the episodes and then promptly ignored it for over a month.
From the Cradle to the Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars captures the two-year journey in which Virginia Grohl interviewed Verna Griffin, Dr. Dre’s mother; Marianne Stipe, Michael Stipe of REM’s mother; Janis Winehouse, Amy Winehouse’s mother; Donna Haim, mother of the Haim sisters; Hester Diamond, Mike D of The Beastie Boys’ mother and others as well as sharing some stores from Grohl about raising her own musician, and the ways his fame has impacted her life.
I had anticipated that the book would be the same as the show – focusing on conversations between Virginia Grohl and the various mothers digging into their lives and their approaches to parenthood. Throwing in some fun anecdotes about these famous children and this should be a winner… but that’s not exactly how the book works, although it is laid out that way. But the way the chapters come together is much more Grohl telling her subjects’ story in an abbreviated way without allowing the details to enrich the narrative and largely without sharing their voices. Instead, go watch the six episodes which cover Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons and his mom Christene, Pharell Williams and his mom Dr. Carolyn Williams, Miranda Lambert and her mom Bev, Brandi Carlile and her mom Teresa, Tom Morello and his mom Mary (she’s freaking awesome), and Geddy Lee and his mom Mary Weinrib.