July 26, 2021

Peter Stone Brown Archives

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A Family Thing: Sara Lee Guthrie and Shana Morrison


Music can be a family thing. Throughout the history of popular music there have been all kinds of family groups, going all the way back and all the way up, from the Monroe Brothers and the Carter Family to the Beach Boys, the Kinks and Oasis. However, for some reason, once someone’s children get involved, whether on their own or in a group, there seems to be an air of resentment to say the least, from critics in particular. The pinnacle of this resentment was probably Julian Lennon. When Jakob Dylan’s band The Wallflowers went on their first national tour before the release of their first album, Jakob avoided publicity, wouldn’t introduce the band members on stage and didn’t want anyone to know who he was. On the other hand, country and western musicians had no problem with family and many of them included their kids in their shows. Very few of these kids ever reached anything approaching stardom. The pressures of wondering if they’re good enough to live up to a legacy must be enormous.

Sarah Lee Guthrie probably had a lot of help in that department since her dad, Arlo, had to go through it as well. Arlo conquered the “son-of” thing by managing to embrace it and ignore it at the same time. He never tried to be the songwriter his father was, and he had an engaging personality and was extremely funny, delivering concerts that usually turned out to be a moving experience.

When Warner Brothers finally dropped Arlo Guthrie a couple of decades ago, he pretty much said the hell with the established music business and formed his own label Rising Son. When it came time for his kids (who had been appearing at his concerts for years) to make their own records, why should they go through the hassle of dealing with the major labels or the indies?

Go here http://www.gadflyonline.com/05-27-02/music-daughters.html