The Home Place

Today is musician Laurie Lewis’s birthday. She’s 62, born in 1950.

Laurie Lewis plays bluegrass and a jazzier fiddle music called “newgrass”. She’s from California and discovered the work of Bill Monroe through a community of musicians in the San Francisco Bay area – not the standard path but certainly effective. She’s not an imitator, but finds inspiration in the tradition. Lewis told an interviewer earlier this year, “How am I ever going to be able to imitate a man from Kentucky, I’m a woman from Berkeley.”

She turned out to be a trailblazer in her chosen style of music. As far as the impetus for breaking gender barriers and being unconventional, it seems to come naturally out of her upbringing. Here’s a quote from another interview:

“You know, I grew up in Berkeley, and it took me years of getting out of the area before I got over the feeling that everything was weird, everybody thought differently than I did, everything was strange. I realized after awhile that, no, I was the weird one, and that Berkeley was the strange place. And outside of modern European countries, there weren’t many places in the world that were like this. You know how Europeans claim they can spot Americans all the time? When I was 16 I went to Europe for the first time with my family. Nobody thought we were an American family. They all thought we were maybe German or Danish or something. The way we dressed and the way we were was just different. But that’s what I grew up in.”

What are some of the lasting effects of your upbringing?

58 thoughts on “The Home Place”

  1. i love the line for a prince of tides where the dad says something to the efect of ” its my job as a dad to mess with you and screw up your life and its your job as my kids to figure out what to do with that.
    my family laves me in a place where i had to figure it out on my own . i was suburban prototype who grew up in the burbs with the cornfield across the street and the river 3 blocks away and the parents who looked back and couldnt believe that they had to decide between goldwater and kennedy back in 1960. my grandfather was the typical republican and my parents took a while to lock into view of the world they ended up with . the liberal hippy view of the world i took was a result of that option being embraced and celebrated in my family. the last kid in the family ended up tea party and is an unhappy camper on this planet but the rest of us are appropriately appalled at the state of th world and do what we can in our little ways to nudge it in the correct direction
    sure like the music. thanks dale


  2. Let’s see…Norwegian Minnesotan Lutheran upbringing = pride is the ultimate sin, liberal Minnesotan upbringing = no grapes for a very long time when I was a kid (but also a strong social justice streak that means you have to take action when and how you can), musician parents = (this is almost a direct quote from my mom, spoken to me when I was in my 20s and trying to decide if I could afford tickets), “I don’t think opera is a luxury, it’s a necessity.” Also, just from ambient parenting and grandparenting stuff = stay curious, keep learning.

    One that really stuck from Sunday school – if we start with the notion of believing in God, and we are all created in God’s image, that means all of us, regardless of what we called God (or don’t), our gender, our ethnicity, our abilities, and (most importantly this election year), who we love. If we are all created as an image of the divine, that means that all reflections of that image are, therefore, reflections of the divine and not to be reviled, mistreated, abused, or discriminated against. So there.


    1. “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”
      — — George Carlin


  3. Good morning. Laurie Lewis is a great favorite of mine and is one of the wonderful musicians I heard for the first time on the morning show. She does have a strong influence of bluegrass in her music and also has transformed it into a style of her own which I think is great. I particularly like her voice and singing style as well as the very good band that she lead or still leads.

    I grew up in Jackson, Michigan and also lived as a young person for a few years in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin and St. Claire Shores, Michigan. Jackson certainly was not at all like Berkley. My Dad worked for a company that designed electric power plants and my mother took care of our home which was a very old house that my Dad spend a lot of time remodeling. We had a large garden and there was an old grown over gravel pit behind our house where I played. Behind the pit was a major rail road line, swamps and a river which I also explored. Right across from my house was the grade school that I attended. I had some friends in my neighborhood that were play mates and I spent a lot of time on my own out in the area behind our house.

    While I didn’t have the unique experience of growing up in Berkley, there were some things I liked about the place I grew up. It was a mixed neighborhood where I got to know people from a variety of backgrounds. I had easy access to the grade school and also to a lot of open area behind our house that I explored. Also my mother was at home to care for me although I think it would have been better for her if she had been able to find some work outside of the home. She did set a good example for me by doing extensive canning of food from our garden and by doing flower gardening as well as vegetable gardening. Actually my dad did most of the vegetable gardening and also set a good example for me by putting a lot of work into making improvements in our house.


  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    What a question for a therapist to answer. I could go on and on– but I won’t, ok.

    Here is a short list:

    Good food is vital and organic gardens produce good food.

    The family Republicans are crazy and unable to get any perspective on governance, the use of power, or what is important. They also tend towards pointless penny-pinching (penny -wise and pound foolish).

    A good laugh and a card game if hearts or cribbage heals a lot of hurt.

    BTW, the YouTube montage of Old Love had 2500 viewings as of this morning (I looked). It must be turning viral. Help this along and send it to others!


  5. From my mom – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all (I work at this… sometimes a struggle… especially in an election year).
    From my dad – question everything, get to the bottom of every mystery, read anything you can get your hands on.
    From my grandmother, Ruby – take care of yourself and your family at all costs
    From my grandmother, Nana – always have pop in the refrigerator for your grandkids!


    1. yep grandpa jb always had candy on top of the fridge and grandma vonda had pop in the garage. i will try to remember to be the grandpa with something other than a smartass remark.


  6. I think the main message I got from my mother was something like “don’t hurt others.” She particularly meant we should not do anything that serves our own interests if it might hurt others, so saying something witty (but slyly critical) of someone else was not right.

    My father’s message is the title of my book: “Be a man.” That meant we should do the right thing in all situations, especially those in which we might profit from doing the wrong thing.


  7. Wonderful music to start the day, and a great question to ponder; thanks, Dale.

    For better or worse, the longer I live, the more I recognize the lasting effects of my upbringing. I’d love to be a tad more carefree, and give myself permission to be more silly and playful, but it takes a concerted effort to let go. It was hammered into me, quite literally, that there are always consequences to the choices you make, and that life is serious business. In retrospect, I realize that my parents’ attitude toward screwing up, and not accepting responsibility for yourself, was probably grounded in the fear that my sister and I would never be able to take care of ourselves if we didn’t learn those lessons. How I wish they could have been more forgiving in the process of teaching us that.

    tim seems to embrace the philosophy that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and it seems to work beautifully for him. I have made a deliberate effort as an adult to learn to nurture and heal that inner child that was so badly bruised very early in life. Can’t help but wonder how different my life could have been had that not been the case.


    1. PJ and I have had a few disagreements, none of them significant, that relate to her post. Our differences arise from moments I’m being silly or playful, and she is being serious. I think we’re getting better at anticipating and avoiding such times now. As I know more about her childhood, I understand how we came to be different. And, yes, one does wonder what life could have been if the background had been different..


    2. watch out what you wish for pj, just because you learn to roll with the punches doesnt make balck and blue your favorite color combination. i love my ability to figure how to zig and zag but it would be nice to put it on autopilot every now and again and let it roll without having to make sure the wheels aren’t going to come off while you are putting your feet up.


    3. as a less flippant remark pj i think you have done an extraordinary job of putting the priorities of life in the proper order and remembering that the important stuff needs to be attended to. the legacy of where we come from is an interesting realazation. i remember the first time i realized there were things about my parents i didnt like very much and when i went to tell them i thought what i thought they apoligaized and said they were so young and screwed up they didnt know how to do it. it put a whole new light on the 20 something ww2 teenagers who got married cause thats what we did and had kids cause thats what we did and et them do this because and not that because and there wasnt the same kind of thought involved then that there is now. i am afraid there are still a lot of houses where that still goes on and the kids get raised with little thought to the stuff that gets laid donw as law. at my house the kids know where to go depending on what interpratation they want this time around, my german farm daughter who moved to chicago at age 10 to be raised by a german farm dad has a whole differnt perspective than i do. it makes for interesting discussions believe me. you and hans ave got it down and the nurturing you guys do for each other is nice to see, do the best you can with what youve got and thats all you can do.


  8. Lovely intro, Dale, and I share your enthusiasm for Laurie Lewis. To my mind, she has created two exceptionally haunting songs. You led off with one. Here is another. Oddly enough, both songs are centered on the idea of “place” and refuge.


  9. This is Clyde at the library. My very problematic TV provider is also my Internet provider. It all crashed, right when I needed to be on line studying. Anyway. I think it will be a few days before I’m back on. I’m trying to convince my wife to cancel it all.


    1. clyde, an i pad with the modem gizmo in it may be an alternative for your. your son knows about the free tv options. look into it. i pad (not the new versions) are 200 bucks and 25 an month for the connectivity


    2. We bought an Asus tablet computer for Jim starting college fulltime. OMG, they are amazing. We bought the attachable keyboard and it does most things a computer does plus you can download apps as it is a mobile device with the Droid operating system. And it’s barely 1/2 ” thick. It’s also compatible for Kindle books and Netflix movies. It takes pictures and with Skype it could be a phone. It’s all you need. We are loving it!


  10. OT. I think I heard Aaron speaking as a volunteer on KFAI this morning. Many of you know Aaron as someone who has participated in this blog occasionally. Was that you, Aaron?


    1. i saw aaron at the state fair and he said he works with dale on fridays. good pick up jim. the new morning blend has been named and launched. its a good show. carry on aaron and dale.


  11. I spent many years in deep therapy overcoming early childhood wounding (fortunately before I became a therapist!), and really cherish the struggles to become whole. I think there’s a lot to the concept of the “wounded healer” because there’s an empathy factor that simply cannot be gleaned from all the books ever written on psychology. From my mother, I learned; “There are no problems; only challenges” and from my father; “There are two kinds of people in this world: creative people and people who use creative people”. I also cherish every mistake I’ve ever made because each one inadvertently helped me evolve as a human being. I recall a therapist once telling me, “Nancy, most folks go through life walking toward their destinations in a straight line; you, however, seem to have to do cartwheels and back flips to get there!” Yet one more little gem of wisdom from a long-ago supervisor; “The goal in life is to perfect your personality disorder!” I could go on & on, but these jewels come to mind.


  12. This is certainly an interesting question for me, given what we have just been through with my father. I think that I learned from both my parents that we all have a responsibility to our community and our family, we need to stay connected to others, and we can and we should find something funny in even the worst situation. I saw the fruits of these lessons first hand when I was at home last week. At 91 my father is still an active volunteer for the local hospital, the RSVP, the Veteren’s Nursing Home, an anti-smoking coalition, etc. The night before his heart attack, the local hospital asked him to drive a lab specimen to the main Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, the facility that he would be admitted to the following day. Mom said the ER nurses in the local hospital were crying as they loaded him into the helicopter to be transported. The pulmonary specialst who treated him in Critical Care remembered him from when he treated patients at the local hospital and dad was a greeter in the lobby. People my mother and I had never seen before, who he somehow had connections with, stopped us in the hospital to ask how he was doing. We have no idea how they knew he was ill. Neighbors and friends have driven my mom back and forth to see him after I had to get back to ND. The two Dutch ladies across the courtyard from my parents’ condo washed her windows one day when she was at the hospital (what an appropriate thing for two Dutch ladies to do to help out). Mom said those windows just glistened. I still haven’t figured out what one of the neurologists meant when she told me that my dad was sure cute and he had such beautiful skin, and wasn’t I lucky. All these things, poignant or goofy or both, really make life wonderful.

    Today my mother said that my dad’s speech, which has been unintelligible until now, was completely understandable and the things he said made sense. He is still weak, but is getting stronger and will go to a nursing home for a month of rehab before going back home. Things are looking up.


      1. They are the most helpful and down to earth people. The older woman immigrated to the US in the 40″s. She and her husband farmed near Hardwick, MN.. Her husband, now deceased, was in the Dutch Underground during the Second World War. She lives with her developmentally delayed 50 year old daughter, who loves to play bingo at the Legion Club.


  13. Here are the messages that have stayed with me to this day:
    – be at least a little bit different, and that’s from my mother. She was 5th of 7 kids, and imagine that’s how she learned to get attention. From my dad I learned “but not too different.”
    – Get outside – why would you spend a nice day like this indoors?
    – Fix stuff right away before it gets too far gone, and mostly: fix it yourself.
    – Don’t spend more than something is worth. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
    – Save. (This did not actually stick; it’s a good thing I found Husband.)
    – Old fashioned houses are the nicest, and they shouldn’t be too big.
    – Reading is good; school is important.


  14. My family was large and crazy. However, we did learn to value education, keep learning, and serve as well as you can. Oh, and wake up in the middle of the night to see an eclipse, if that’s what is going on. (I have had the next solar eclipse in the US on my schedule for at least ten years now, because I realized I will never see one if I don’t go out of my way to do it. It’s in August 2017.)
    And also, if you’re going to do something new, learn all about it. My dad had books and books about each of his interests. It tends to make those of us who picked up that habit a little obsessive sometimes, but the internet certainly makes it easier than it was for him. When I started to learn sax in fifth grade, he got me a copy of “Horns, Strings and Harmony” which explained all about how instruments work. Then a week later he quizzed me to see if I could explain why the sax didn’t sound like a clarinet. I still remember being proud that I could almost answer him. (Of course, he understood the book better than I did, so it wasn’t like I could explain it to him.) I still have a copy of the book.


      1. Not really – there’s no where to play it, so not so much. I was really a band kid, though, for a long time. But I do play piano a lot – church, local musicals, stuff like that.


      1. I did too, although sometimes it was hard work to keep up with him. He definitely gave me music, and a push to “find things out”.


        1. i was told by one of the music store owneres i grew up with that the soprano sax sitting on the car seat allows you to paly along with the radio. much friendlyier than alto or tenor. i have a cheapie i picked up but i never have playerd the soprano to any extent. shoulfd try it more.


  15. Greetings! When I think about it I realize there’s a lot of things I see in myself from my dear parents. We also were a large family and not much money, so my parents were frugal. I never liked the idea of being cheap, so I buy high quality and wait for it to go on sale usually. My mom was gracious, loving and open — even to every scruffy boyfriend my 5 sisters brought home. Even dad was quite tolerant of them. Friends and in-laws loved my parents as much or more than their own.

    During the summer growing up, one of the rules (besides chores and weeding the garden) was to read a book for an hour every day. We always had magazines like Newsweek, Psychology Today, and a few others that I read voraciously. The real treat was when dad bought Mad Magazine. I may not read “literature” but I tend to read for information, inspiration or motivation with some fiction thrown in the mix. And of course, a stoic German practicality overrules most things. I will never, ever understand the need or desire to play video games — not even computer Solitaire.

    I start to see myself pick up my dad’s idea that most people “are stupid” — but it’s always tempered by my mother’s nurturing patience and kindness that everyone deserves to be accepted and listened to. And then I wonder what my kids will remember about their upbringing.


  16. Dale, thanks for highlighting Laurie Lewis. I have a Christmas album she did with Tom Rozum called Winter’s Grace (a gift, actually, from Robin and Bill) that has one of the most beautiful songs on it I’ve ever heard – Earth Moves in a Mysterious Way. I’m not clear on whether she wrote it or not, and I can’t find much on the internet about it. But here are the lyrics:

    Earth moves in a mysterious way, her wonders to unfold;
    She fashions beauty out of clay, like straw spun into gold.

    She holds us all within her grasp, enfolds us in her grace,
    We cling like children to her breast, this glowing jewel in space.

    I lose her face a thousand times in crowded streets of fear.
    But when I gaze at starry skies, I see her shining clear.

    I lose her voice amid the din and clamor all around
    But if I listen to the wind, I hear her sacred sound.

    And thought this human enterprise is poised ‘tween hope and hell,
    Earth circles in her endless task and whispers “all is well.”

    And in the darkest season, amid the winter storm,
    She sings to us of spring to come and keeps our spirits warm.

    Earth moves in a mysterious way, her wonders to perform.
    She fashions beauty out of clay, our Mother and our home.


  17. emma pitches in 8 hours
    arrive at the ball park in 7 wake in 6
    twins were great and beat tigers tonight
    learned form family and surroundings tha tlife only comes around once. dont ignore today but dont dismiss the present to prepare for tomorrow


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