Rubbery cheese strips have spilled onto the deep blue carpet in the lounge at the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Jessica, 1 year old, is pulling her mother's CD out of its package and trying to stick it in her mouth. Steven, who is 4, has stopped waving his plastic yellow bat and started pulling at Mom's sleeve. In mid-sentence, Sue Fabisch leans over to receive the news from her son that he has to pee. Now.
As the woman behind "The Mom of Constant Sorrow," "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" and other songs drawn from the travails of maternity, Fabisch might be suspected of having rented a couple of kids, scattered toys all over the place and otherwise tried to maintain her persona for the visiting media.
Not so, she insists after Steven's bathroom break. "This is my life. Seven years ago, I was taking myself very seriously: vocal lessons for $160 an hour, vocalizing before every performance, relaxing and breathing and getting into my zone. Now, there is no zone. I never have time to warm up; I just sing and hope something comes out of my mouth. Even when I'm recording, the baby is in the vocal booth with me, either on the floor or on my hip...."
If you've heard Fabisch's CD, Wal-Mart Woman, or pondered the bits of wisdom in her book You Know You're a Mom of Constant Sorrow If..., or if you've got a calendar filled with PTA meetings and shelves stocked with Chef Boyardee, this story rings all too true. A onetime aspiring cabaret entertainer in Manhattan, Fabisch moved her family to Nashville in 2000. They didn't know anybody here but had heard it was a decent place to raise kids and write songs.
Indeed, with three childrenDanny, 7, was too tied up with school to make the interviewclamoring for attention, Fabisch began coming up with material that splatters Kool-Aid across motherhood's idealized image. Dr. Demento has broadcast her songs, GAC has featured her first video and, on May 8the day before Mother's Dayshe'll perform two shows, from noon until 2 p.m. and 8 until 10 p.m., in the parking lot of the Franklin Wal-Mart, which in symbolic terms is like Mel Gibson acting out The Passion in St. Peter's Square.
"I guess I've found my niche," she says. "I'm not going to be singing in some sequined gown, pretending I'm Faith Hill. It's going to be my kids in the wings, and I'm saying 'Shut up! I'm about to go on!' And then Mommy starts to sing, and then I go back and change her poopy diaper. It's not glamorous...but it is a lot of fun."
Robert L. Doerschuk
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That clip is horrifying. It looks like postmortem makeup. Very uncanny valley.
AGGGHHHH that last picture!