Boulder, CO – “My Stomach Aches for my Mama” – December 17, 1998

I’m feeling sick to my stomach.  Perhaps it’s because of the severe intestinal flu that sent me to the ER for an anti-nausea IV in the middle of the night on Monday.  More likely it’s from the confounding questions my new booking agent, Cassy Burbeck needs answers to before he can start booking a national tour for me.  Casey wants to know: What’s my budget? What’s on my rider? Who’s in my band? What is my stage plot (what even is a stage plot?) Will we be ready in time for the Lillith Fair?  Where do I see myself in 6 months?  A year?  A decade?  I can’t imagine where I’ll be in 6 days let alone 6 months.  But I need a booking agent.  Booking myself is just the pits!  Venues stiff me and won’t call back to confirm the show beforehand.  Having booked my shows for three months now, I know exactly how much I’d pay not to have to do this job anymore, and when Casey says the going rate for agents is 10% of all gigs, that seems more than fair to me.

But my stomach still hurts, even after reconciling with my choice to hire Casey and answer all his scary questions and when I ask my stomach to tell me what’s at the root of its dis-ease an image pops up in my mind of my mama.  Earlier in the week, she was driving in her car, just minding her own business and was delighted when one of her songs came on the radio.  As she retold the story to me later in the evening on the phone, I imagined her bopping along to “You’re so Vain,” or “Jesse” or “Coming Around Again” as she threaded her way home, over backroads lined with puckerbrush and winter white slush on Martha’s Vineyard. 

At the end of her song, the DJ took a random caller who said “I saw Carly Simon at the anti-impeachment rally the other day and she looked awful.  I tell ya, I used to dig her when she was hanging around with James Taylor but she’s gotten OLD man.”  My mama recounted the insouciant caller with a New York accent.

“Yeah, her skin’s all wrinkly.” agreed the DJ.

“I guess that’s what happens when ya get old.” the caller theorized, “Your skin starts fallin’ off the bone.” They both laughed.  My mama cried all day.  I would too.  “It’s not fair mama.” I told her, “You’re sooooo beautiful! You’re timeless. You’re so talented. You’re a legend!” and I thought ‘why am I going into this profession?!?!

As I hung up I just kept telling myself ‘It’ll be OK. The work I’ve done on myself will spare me the worst of my ego’s weaponry down the line.’  But more than anything, I worry about getting hijacked by the spotlight and imprisoned by the applause.  Here are some exercises I promise myself to do to avoid the consequences of my future successes and failures.

  1. I’ll make fun of myself.
  2. I’ll make a point of enjoying other’s successes.
  3. I’ll separate my self-worth from my music’s value to others.
  4. I’ll never be jealous or bitter.
  5. I’ll never do anything just because it’ll “look good,” or “boost my image.”
  6. I’ll believe in everyone I surround myself with.
  7. I’ll stay curious and humble and trust my decisions.
  8. I won’t trust anyone.

I hope it’s enough. I’m sorry mama. It’s not fair. My stomach aches for you.

Reader interactions

26 Replies to “Boulder, CO – “My Stomach Aches for my Mama” – December 17, 1998”

  1. Your poor sweet mother, people can be so hurtful and mean. No wonder you had second thoughts about a music profession. Its is not fair.

    1. I Knowwwwwww! My poor sweet mama!

    2. Thanks Albert. I guess what doesn’t kill you or get you hooked on drugs, makes you stronger right?

  2. What a rotten comment. Your Mama is so beautiful – always. I hate that some stranger made her feel less than. I can’t imagine how hard it is to put yourself out there. You both are brave gorgeous women – you have my admiration for sure! xo

    1. Meg, Thank you for your empathy and compassion. You are very kind.

  3. This hurts my heart.
    People are so judgmental.
    Let you positive energy shine!

    1. Thank you Karen. I’ll keep the shine on.

  4. Hi Sally – even if this sounds like an echo, I, too, feel bad for your mama. She is totally beautiful (still is) and she should NOT have to hear the voices of mean (and, likely, jealous!) people.

    I do think the public scrutiny and having to open up your everyday life to prying eyes is what keeps good people out of a lot of professions (not just the arts, but also politics and maybe even competitive sports). And they (mean people) are doing the same thing to Princess Kate as we speak!

    I hope you feel like you have managed to strike a balance for yourself and your own family!

    BTW: I do think you were the cutest baby ever. Must be kinda fun to hear your dad’s songs that forever memorialize his love for baby Sally. And please pass our love on to your mama.

  5. Reading this made the soft spots in my own self worth hurt….. for me, for you, and for your mama. How unkind this society is to one another and most especially to our entertainers. This was a very enlightening read.

  6. Venessa Verdugo March 11, 2024 at 2:41 pm

    You’re mother is BEAUTIFUL!!!She always has been and always will be. Cowards and bullies get their sick bravado by remaining unseen.

    1. Thanks Venessa. I agree. My mom is the most beautiful woman ever born.

  7. Of the many many things I’ve loved about your mom’s music, the vulnerability and “realness” of her lyrics are the best. She has always made me feel like she gets it…whether it’s feeling insecure, powerful one minute and small the next, or just the way she relays the experience of being human. She captures some of those inner-dialogues we all have but may not admit. The downside of having that kind of keen sensibility I guess is that negative comments hurt more no matter the source. (Those comments are a reflection on those guys only…not people I’d want to hang with.) She IS a legend!! My life for years and years would not have sounded as good without her voice somewhere in my atmosphere most of the time. And that smile…c’mon! 🙂

    1. Hey Becky,
      I agree. My mom’s vulnerability is one of the things that is strongest and bravest about her. Thank you for being such an empath.

  8. Your mom is a legend! A beautiful, talented gifted singer song writer and an amazing mom. She raised two beautiful souls just like hers.

    I’ve enjoyed reading these gigs every evening and karma is not forgiven. I love how you operate and how you’re not sure of the industry but you carry on and take good care of your feelings.

    Rock on Sally! You’re as talented and as beautiful as Carly. Who also has rocked the decades!

    1. Thanks Patrice. You rock on too!

  9. This just pisses me off royally. I’ve loved Carly since I was a child, when she was pregnant with you on the Hotcakes album. I still love her today. She was beautiful then, and she’s beautiful now. And so are you, Sally.
    We are allowed to age. Carly has recounted in interviews how her mother, Andrea, would look at her own hands, gnarled with age and appreciate their beauty. That’s how I want to be now as I am collecting wrinkles, gray hairs, and more fat cells. Aging is a privilege that not all get to experience. I’m glad to be here to continue telling my tales.
    Those idiot DJ’s criticisms say so much more about them than it did about your mother. And now, almost 30 years later, I bet they don’t look like they did back in 1998. Wonder how it feels to be them now?

    1. I hear you Sally. I can’t stand the way the media talks about artist as though it were behind their backs. I don’t know how it will ever change while. I suppose it is human nature. But thank you for coming to my mama’s defense.

  10. Good people are timeless. Ageless and timeless. In this world of illusion, a genuine heart glows. Your Mama glows. You glow. She will always be the young beauty on the bed, beaming with joy at her daughter.

    1. Thank you Amy. That’s very kind of you to say. I love this image of me and my mama.

  11. Love you so much beauty

  12. Such mysogenistic behavior toward your
    mother is very Howard Stern-ish. Stop. No more thoughts about men who bully. Good! Big hug! Smiles all around. Tears be gone!
    When I allow other’s mean and shallow
    behavior upset me, my mensch of a husband
    will, after I am out of words in my need to vent
    and to be heard, quietly says, “Next.” I smile, I/we move forward… . Your turn now… 🤗

    1. I like that. “Next.” Very good.

  13. And so was Momma C in her interview with the Shock Jock! SHE really kept Stern in his place!!! Her straight , red – lipsticked glare of a “smile ” NOT! , and stern , steely- eyed stare kept him and any attempts at public humiliation , pressing for TMI of one’s personal life, demean woman, prodding them to undress for the camera. Creepy press charges of inciting porny behavior stuff-sick! Sidekick Robin hee heeing along with the guys? Watched his show long enough to be ill, viewed his life movie, and did not place his book in our Free Little Library. My husband ALWAYS listened to Stern when he was trucking home from NYC, on AM radio before we met. Funny then, “raunchy” now to quote him these days.

    Listen to Billy Joel’s ( a mensch) interview, disgusting Howard asking a gross question of the Piano Man in regard to Elle Mc Pherson. More than once! ” NO Howard. I don’t kiss and tell.”

    Springsteen was smart and laid out parameters
    so he controlled the interview. Stern is only relevant
    because of my generation’s singer songwriters
    are the draw to watch It’s all about narcissist

    I studied him , Sally, so to speak , because like our sons, Howard grew up in a town similar to ours. White population became minority. It was 50/50 white/ color when we moved here 36 years ago . When he was interviewed by Ed Brown on 60 Minutes, Stern was well spoken.
    Intelligent. Serious. A different man. Normal even. Image of a good man and father of DAUGHTERS! What a 180 degree turn.

    Stern did confirm he was picked on. But beat up , harassed…. IDK or turned down by any if at all girlfriend To quote Dr. Cornell West “Hurt people, hurt people.” No excuse. Howard does not get a buy. He is a grown , old , man now. He was not happy with his liberal parents who stayed in Freeport, NY trying to make a statement they were not racist….but
    all his friends did move away. I rest assured now, our sons do not see color, made friends, ones with whom they still connect. El Salvadoran, Honduran , Puerto Rican , Giana, sp? We , Mom and Dad too, learned about Hinduism and delicious but spicy Central American foods, music…. authors….
    We all bleed the same color
    Thanks for listening to me , Sally. Big hug. NEXT➡️

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