Fans of her son will devour the Foreword he wrote for the book. Grohl fondly recalls the moment he felt, “the spark of inspiration ignite.”
The teenage kid and his mother were driving from their suburban Northern Virginia home in Springfield to Pohick Bay, a regional park about fifteen miles south of Washington. Carly Simon’s smash hit, “You’re So Vain,” came on the radio. Mother and son sang the song in harmony.
Grohl’s fans will also enjoy reading his mother’s “Vignettes.” Sandwiched in between the dozen and a half stories in the 224-page book, these reminisces are chock full of her memories as the mother of a rock star.
Number Seven, “Nirvana,” is not only full of insight, but also very touching. Like all mothers, Virginia worried that her son would indulge in the white lines on the mirrors or the needles in the arm.
Warren, Ohio, claims Grohl as a native son, but the family soon moved to Springfield. Grohl attended high schools in Alexandria and Annandale. His footprints are all over the DMV, including scores of trips he took to DC’s 9:30 club.
Virginia also recalls when her son joined up with Scream, a DC punk band. These were Grohl’s salad days, playing anywhere and everywhere.
She also tells us her fond memories of rubbing shoulders with stars at the Kennedy Center Honors and a White House reception in June, 2010. Grohl performed “Band on the Run.” As proud as a mother can be she writes her son was, “just two feet from Sir Paul McCartney and the President of the United States of America!”
Virginia was also was proud when her son was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as one of the members of Nirvana.
I love the music of Nirvana, who gave rock music the breath of fresh air it needed in the 90s. I also like the music of the Foo Fighters. And Grohl is flat out cool. He and bandmate Taylor Hawkins were the perfect pair to help induct Rush in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 and perform parts of 2112. I also knew Rush was a big influence on Grohl.
Still, my initial thought was not to purchase this book. Then through a posting at the blog Rushisaband, I found out Mary Weinrib, Geddy Lee’s mother, is one of the mothers who tell their stories in the book.
As a lifelong and passionate Rush fan, I first turned to this chapter. We knew Geddy’s mother (Manya Rubenstein) and his late father (Morris Weinrib) survived the Holocaust. Back in the day, the bassist, singer, keyboardist and front man for the now retired hard rock trio made vague mentions about it. Enough that we knew their story inspired drummer and lyricist Neil Peart to pen the song, “Red Sector A.” But nothing else.
I’m sure all the other mothers in this book have compelling stories, but I cannot imagine any of them being any more compelling than Geddy’s mom. To say she beat the odds is the understatement of the century.
Born in Poland in 1935, Mary survived bombing and looting by the Germans, malnutrition and disease which killed many, and a harrowing brush with death at the Treblinka death camp.
To quote the author:
A brutish SS guard designated “right, left, right,” as he assessed the long line of prisoners. Those on the right were deemed strong enough to work; those on the left would go to the gas chambers. Many, naturally small and fair and completely terrified, was sent to the left, her mother and sister to the right. Her horrified mother sneaked behind the line and pulled her daughter to the right, saving her life. Those on the left vanished.
Grohl also points out Mary, her mother and her sister survived Bergen-Belsen, a disease-riddled concentration-camp located in southern Germany. Many, including Anne Frank, did not survive.
Mary married Morris Weinrib, who also made it out alive. They emigrated to Toronto where she found work as a seamstress. He opened up a discount store in Newmarket. Three children followed — Susie in 1951, Gary in 1953 (Geddy officially changed his name. Friends had picked up on the way the mother pronounced Gary) and Allan in 1960.
The dark clouds seemed to have lifted for Mary. In 1965, however, the Grim Reaper shadowed her again and took away Morris.
Bedridden and depressed for weeks, Mary got back on her feet and took charge of running the store. Her children pitched in. Geddy’s hard work was rewarded when his mother bought him an acoustic guitar. Inspired by the British Invasion in the sixties, Geddy learned to play their songs. Alex Lifeson, a friend and neighbor joined in the basement rehearsals. A band named Rush was born.
In 1984, Rush recorded their tenth studio album, which included the song Red Sector A. The name of the album was “Grace Under Pressure.”
Mary Weinrib sure knows something about that, and we have Virginia Grohl to thank for shedding some light on her remarkable story.
Note: Virginia and Dave will be in conversation on April 28 at the Black Cat in DC. The event is sold out.
The Foo Fighters will headline Glastonbury, one of the premier music festivals in the world, in June.