Take a whiff of Sista Smiff and you'll come back for more, that's fo sho!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Smile For Awhile And Let's Be Jolly
Reading through all that's news in the world of country music, as I am prone to do, and I stumble upon this little tidbit about my former employer getting yet ANOTHER DUI.
I was under the Grammy winning singer's employ for a brief, yet meaningful time way back in 1988. I was all of 19 years old and even though I had heard she could be difficult", I took the job anyway. She couldn't be all that bad. My dad had known her since she was a young girl and had known her parents. Surely he would never let me walk into a potentially scarring situation? HA! All these years later, I have come to the conclusion that maybe because he knew I wanted to be in the music biz, maybe I oughta have a closeup look at it? I dunno.
I was not in awe of Lynn like I was, say, an Emmylou or Dolly or Loretta, but I've always loved "Rose Garden" (one of the first songs I ever remember in my life) and she had had a long career and I certainly respected her as an artist. Lynn, at one time, had a really great voice, great range, she could do impersonations and could just tear an audience up.
My job was to be her personal assistant. I thought that meant doing letters and stuff. I did do some letters, I made travel arrangements for her and her band (this was pre-Expedia.com days so I learned how to use a travel agent-remember, 19 years old) and I did errands for her, mostly grocery shopping, and crap like that.
I laugh now to picture myself at that age..idealistic but yet, pretty shy and intimidated by this whole thing. Everyday I went in there, I was a nervous wreck. She wasn't around a whole lot...slept late everyday and you never knew what side of the bed she was going to wake up on. Something about female country music women....they like to be waited on and they want everything yesterday. They're just like that. I bet even Martina Yearwood's like that.
One time, she sent me to Frugal McDoogals to get a buttload of liquor for some party she was having. I knew that they wouldn't sell me liquor (19) but she insisted I go anyway. Guess who didn't bring home any liquor???? She ranted and raved and cussed about it but even Miz Rose Garden couldn't change the law. She was rather pissed about that.
I also was sometimes the go-between between her and her boyfriend. These two (I believe she is still with this man to this day) fought constantly. She wouldn't be speaking to him, he'd call, she wouldn't talk to him..."You tell him to blankety blankety himself".....then I'd have to get on the other line and tell him "She won't talk." It was not fun.
The only really good memory I have of the whole experience was one afternoon, Lynn was in a great mood (sober!) and she wanted me to help her make wontons. She sent me off to the store to get the stuff and I learned to make wontons with Lynn Anderson that day. She had, and I'm sure still has, a side to her that was really fun. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with her that afternoon. I thought maybe the tide had turned and she was comfortable with me and I was adjusting. HA! I was so dumb.
Lynn had the typical lifestyle of a musician/singer, meaning she woke at the crack of noon. I would arrive at her house in the morning about 9 (this great old house off Tyne Blvd. She doesn't live there anymore) and some mornings she had scribbled out lists of things she wanted me to do. It might be go to the grocery store or this place or that. Her longtime housekeeper was this wonderful black lady named Carol, who was a reformed alcoholic and on fire for Jesus.
One morning I got there and there was a list. Carol said "You better go get that stuff before she gets up." So, I go. Carol had worked for her for years and years and knew her better than just about anybody so I went with her advice. I come back an hour later, and Miz Rose Garden herself had awaken and was not in a good mood. She was hollering and screaming (I could hear her all the way in the driveway. This was a big ol house) and when I got into the office, the phone was ringing and it was Her. I was scared to answer it and rightfully so. Miz L was not happy.
"Where in the blankety blankety blankety blankety blankety were you?" >>>I went to the store, you raging, cowgirl, lunatic.
She spews language unbecoming a good cowgirl and a young, Christian girl like myself shouldn't have been a'hearing, about how she got up and I wasn't there, blah blah, blah......
After she finished her rant, I gathered my things, got in my car and went home. I may have been young and stupid, but, I knew that I couldn't and wouldn't stand for being treated like that. The poor woman who had worked for her for many years before me took it and toughened up to it. I really didn't want to get used to being somebody's whipping post.
My career as an assistant to a has-been country star lasted a little over a month. I vowed then and there to never, ever work for somebody like that again in their home.
The guy I was dating at the time had this Metro cop father, very bigoted and anti-woman, and even HE said to me "I'm glad you got out of that."
A week or so after I walked out of the Rose Garden, I got a letter in the mail from Lynn. It was on this lovely, pink stationery with a big rose on it (what else?) and in her own writing, she apologized for everything, said she understood it was not easy to work for somebody in their home, etc., that she liked me a lot and wished me well.
I felt really bad for her and even as young as I was, I thought it so odd that here this woman had all this talent, had experienced wild, crazy success, was a natural beauty, had a home most of us would kill for, had three lovely children....but she was miserable. I also found out not long after, I was one of many, MANY assistants that had come and gone in a very short period of time.
Not to sound corny or whatever, but, I do hope that Lynn will eventually find some peace in her life. I'm glad I had that short experience and really, like Lynn said to me one time about working with her and not being in college (like I should have been at the time) "With me you are going to the School of Hard Knocks."
Poor thing...she was so right.
***Figuring up the dates, I realized I was actually not 19 when I worked for her, but, 18. Not that it matters, but, I didn't turn 19 til after I escaped, I mean, left.
Posted by Sharon Collie at 7:23 PM
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