ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 45 (day 3):
PIECE OF MY HEART
Written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns
Performed by Janis Joplin/Big Brother and the Holding Company
Recorded at Columbia Studios, Los Angeles, CA and NY, NY 1968
Drummer: Dave Getz
Molly glanced at Norman. “Where are we going?”
“Fillmore West,” Norman told the driver. “Corner of Market and South Van Ness.”
“What’s happening?” Molly asked.
Norman rummaged in his pocket. “I bought these today,” he said, “at a pawn shop. The poster was in the window.”
Molly snatched the tickets from his hand. “Iron Butterfly! You love them!”
Norman almost laughed. Someone excited for him. It was a good feeling.
“Barry would love this,” said Molly. “Turn around!” she told the driver impulsively. “Norman you should take Barry!”
“Never mind,” Norman told the driver. “To the Fillmore, please.”…
“Norman, really…” said Molly….
“No.” Norman gritted his teeth. “I don’t want to do anything with Barry right now. Maybe never…. I want to take you… We’ll have this to talk about for years and years…”
“We’ve already got a lot to talk about. A lot. For years and years.”
“I want this, too. One day I might have to go to war. If I’m drafted, I will go. And I don’t want to sit over there thinking about how I could have taken you to see Iron Butterfly in San Francisco but instead I took Barry, who didn’t care two hoots about me….” He’s selfish. I appreciate you, Molly. Come to the concert with me.”
Hearts are breaking everywhere in Chapters 44 through 46. When I was trying to write LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER, my first novel, my editor, Liz Van Doren, at Harcourt Books, kept saying, “Let her heart break.”
It took me several drafts to take her advice to heart (ha) and do that. It opened up the story. We hate to break our beloveds’ hearts, and yet that’s what fiction is about, isn’t it? Let’s see characters in impossible situations, physical and/or emotional, and let’s see what they do, how they fall apart and put themselves back together, and thereby create a roadmap for us to do the same thing in our own lives, with our own heartbreaks.
In A LONG LINE OF CAKES, the fourth Aurora County book, which was published last year, I did such a good job of letting Emma’s heart break that my editor (David Levithan at Scholastic) asked me if I wasn’t going to put that thing back together that Emma tore up, so readers could see it at the end?
Well… no. Because Emma could put her heart back together emotionally by that point, and the physical didn’t matter as much. And that’s what’s happening here, with Norman, as he begins to determine he’s not going to spend any more emotional energy on Barry.
Norman is waking up to what’s right in front of him, the cousin who traveled across the country with him, who navigated them to San Francisco, who is a royal pain in the neck as well as –who knew? — suddenly, a fierce and loyal friend. Let the record show that Norman’s heart breaks, and he lets it. And he makes the decision to move forward.
“Piece of my Heart” and Janis were important to include in San Francisco chapters of ANTHEM, as Big Brother et al were a San Francisco band and I wanted you to hear that San Francisco sound, along with “Evil Ways” and Santana (Chapter 43), and, early-on in ANTHEM, CCR and “Bad Moon Rising” (Chapter 4).
You’ll also find, as we hurtle to the end, a repeat of Chapter 2’s Iron Butterfly and “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” in Chapter 45, which serves as Norman’s theme song in ANTHEM. Norman finally gets to hear the Butterfly live — remember the drum solo? Watch what happens. I’m bringing it around full circle for Norman.
Iron Butterfly did play Fillmore West in late June 1969, on the very date I have Molly and Norman there. It’s details like this that delight a researcher when she’s trying to make a story come together and be true to actual events. Far out. Or, as Norman would put it, “Groovy!”
Fillmore West 1970 — the research on Bill Graham and the bands who played the Fillmore — and its locations — was its own amazing rabbit hole…