Martha’s Vineyard, MA – Fausta’s Shack – July 12, 1997

“So, you do or don’t think it’s crazy for me to consider a music career?” I ask my barefoot, hippie, moth-eaten sweater-wearing, therapist.  We’re in the shack we meet in weekly.  There are lace doily-like curtains in a single pane window and otherwise, no light in the damp hut.   I can’t believe I’m speaking these words out loud, let alone considering the possibility I might follow in my parent’s footsteps.  But I was recently in a plane accident in Peru flying in a small plane over the “Nazca Lines” where an oil tank unceremoniously flew off my side of the plane.  Before I could even wonder what happened, the propellers on either wing clamped still like a bear trap. 

The cabin went completely silent. I remember the acrid smell of stale cigarette smoke on a fellow passenger’s breath and thinking, with curiosity bated, “I wonder what happens next?” I watched the pilot, whose seat I sat directly behind, slowly stitch his shoulders to his ears.  There they dangled like frozen icebergs. Past him through the windshield, I saw what I thought must be a runway, a good sign I thought, until I noticed cars driving on it.  We would be forced to make an emergency landing on The Pan-American Highway. The angle at which we hit the blacktop was steep and made the plane jump and stumble like a drunk at a traffic stop.   As we slowed, our left wing hit a car.

Miraculously, no one was hurt, and a shaman who said he’d intuited the whole affair, climbed out from the back seat and rubbed blessing oil on each of us before helping us push the plane out of the road. Confronted with mortality, we hitched a ride back to the airport.   Two things were overwhelmingly clear in my mind. 

Before I leave the planet:

 1. I want to have a child.

 2. I want the songs I’ve written organized on a CD.

At sixteen I started waking up with lyrics and melodies in my head. Each morning throughout high school and into college I’d diligently retrieve them upon waking, weeding through the shrapnel of dreams and dusting off half-bent choruses and meandering verses.  I kept a sandwich-sized cassette recorder by my bedside and hit record immediately after hitting my alarm.  I would sing into it what I could groggily remember before teetering off to the rec hall for eggs and oatmeal.

My mom bought me a D-1 Martin guitar at “Manny’s” in Times Square in New York on a snowy weekend home from Brown during my freshman year. Overhearing some of my morning songwriting sessions she insisted I have a way to accompany myself.  Soon after I began performing some of my songs, securing a weekly local gig at “Z-Bar,” a smoke-filled sports bar on Providence RI’s legendary Wickenden Street.

As my life and death flashed before my eyes on that tiny plane in Peru, I imagined all those songs I’d written, those sweet little gifts from the depths of my unguarded night-time heartbeats, strewn across miles of cassette tape never to be finished or polished or probably ever heard from again and I wanted to finish them in a way I felt honored them.  But at what price?  It was pure madness to consider following in my famous parents’ musical footsteps.  Wasn’t it?

My therapist, her face cradled in a nest of wiry graying hair (1/2 of which I’m sure I put there), crooked her head in consideration.  Her eyes fix on the ceiling as though there were something other than a field of white up there and responded:

“No, not so crazy.” 

However she agreed that I should put some parameters in place to protect me from any potential success or failure.  Together we imagined some preliminary measures if I, in fact, ever decided a life in music was the right path for me…

  1. I shouldn’t be tempted to take the same path my parents had.  I should probably not sign a record deal (if one is ever an option for me) and instead get my hands dirty.  I should teach myself the ins and outs and the nitty-gritty of running a label myself before delegating roles to others.
  2. I should never read reviews.  This was my dad’s advice “If you believe the good reviews, you’ll believe the bad reviews when they come.  Best not to read them at all.”
  3. If at any time your ego gets in the driver’s seat don’t be afraid to “Jump Ship!”

But as I left my Fausta’s hut and walked barefoot back through the woods to my house I discounted my urge to record my own music.  I was happy enough playing with my disco band “The Boogies,” every Thursday night.  I didn’t need to put myself out there for the sake of some songs on a sandwich-sized tape recorder.  Or did I?

Reader interactions

19 Replies to “Martha’s Vineyard, MA – Fausta’s Shack – July 12, 1997”

  1. I love this and am curious:
    “If at any time your ego gets in the driver’s seat don’t be afraid to “Jump Ship!””
    In what form did you see that possibly happening?

    1. Hey William,

      Good question. I think my ego did wind up getting in the driver’s seat by the end of my days on the road. It happened suddenly and then on an ongoing basis. It started with a bad day. I don’t recall the specifics of what made it bad but I do remember that my worth was called into question. On that day, like an addict, I drank from the audience’s applause in a way I hadn’t before. I needed it. It quelled a voice whispering inside my head “You’re not good enough.” And just like that I was on my way to a full blown applause addiction. I probably didn’t use it in excess everytime I went on stage from that point on but as the years passed, I needed it more and more and towards the end, I couldn’t feel even ‘alright’ without it.

      1. Thank you! That’s quite harrowing. You’re so fortunate you were aware of what was happening, so you could change your life path.

        1. That’s true William. I am not only fortunate to have survived but to have let it inspire me.

      2. “Applause Addiction…..” That’s a bit of wisdom…

        1. I’ve got more to say on that matter you better believe it!

  2. Just lovely, brilliant writing!

  3. Hi Sally,
    I’ve enjoyed following your mom on the social networks the past couple of years. She truly loves her family. I can tell her family loves their mom. It’s so heartwarming to see that in a family in the public eye. Carly’s incredible success in the music industry was hard earned and well deserved. But were the accolades that came with it really important to her? Traveling the world, meeting celebrities and enjoying the life that most of us can only imagine. Much of that you were able to share with her. All of that is just part of the music business. I know Carly doesn’t want or need that attention any more. You seem to fit that same pattern. During your music career it was expected of you to entertain at each performance. Now you have a choice to walk barefooted and watch Bodhi grow. Enjoy the special MV home setting with your family and remember the fun years getting to this stage in life. But the applause and fame doesn’t equal your happiness at home.

    1. Thanks for following my mom on the socials. She is truly a barefoot goddess and I am so happy to follow in her footsteps… loving my family and living in peace.

  4. Marianne Cancelleri January 22, 2024 at 1:10 am

    Sally, as the daughter of two amazing artists, I can understand your trepidation and and intimidation about following in their footsteps. Make no mistake about it though, your talent and ability is yours and yours alone. I love your body of work for what you brought to it, not because of who your parents are. Although I am a huge fan of theirs, especially your mom, I have nothing but admiration for your songwriting ability and execution of what you’ve written. Songs such as Give Me The Strength showcase just how amazing you are. I would love to hear new material from you. Thanks for the music!

    1. Thank you Marianne! I really appreciate your compassion and complements.

  5. Sally, i was at Livestock. Can you tell us about it from your point of view? Was it recorded? Im praying that it someday comes out. The best concert since your folks at No Nukes. Your parents seemed cool together at Livestock, but ive heard differently. Can you comment on them that night and where they are today . I love them both so much .

    1. That was a challenging time in my head. I might write about it some time. Might not be ready just yet.

  6. “ As my life and death flashed before my eyes on that tiny plane in Peru, I imagined all those songs I’d written, those sweet little gifts from the depths of my unguarded night-time heartbeats, strewn across miles of cassette tape never to be finished or polished or probably ever heard from again and I wanted to finish them in a way I felt honored them. ”
    Yup. Brilliant. Totally relate to this urge. And what a story!!!

  7. PS love your logo too. Did you draw that? Looks like your line. 💖

    1. Gulp, Yes, that’s my little thumb ditty.

  8. Oh my god. I am just reading this for the first time even though you’ve been sending them to my email for weeks but I haven’t had a moment to breathe and read. But tonight as I sat here having dinner on our first night in Sedona after two days of long travels, I took that email out and we just read this one. Oh my God. It’s so beautiful Sally! You are a gorgeous writer. Now I can’t wait to read all of the writings and I’m probably going to stay up all night instead of getting the sleep that I really need to. And now we know that we both have a near death experience in common. Love you.

    1. Oh Dear Jane, What a precious message. I hope you got some sleep.

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