I was drawn to St. Louis because I loved our house and our neighborhood, and I was also fond of the neighborhoods where some of my friends had lived when I was in high school—two spots I had thought were magical were Log Cabin Lane, in Ladue, and Webster Park, which had lovely older houses and beautiful trees. But what singers who had wanted to get ahead had stayed in St. Louis? Josephine Baker had gone to France, John Hartford had gone to Nashville, Fontella Bass had gone to Chicago, and then, I heard, to Paris. Chuck Berry may have had a house in St. Louis, but he was said to be on the road so much that he didn’t even know where his house was. LA was where the record labels were, but I didn’t know how to negotiate that. Detroit? Los Angeles? I tried out each of them—visiting for a week, staying in a decent but not fancy hotel, renting a car and driving around, but also walking around, looking at the neighborhoods. I had one affair in each city, but not with any fellow musicians or producers. Mom did not normally offer advice, but she said, “At least try New York. You can afford it. You have to watch the in-crowd, even if you don’t want to be one of them.” She suggested somewhere around Washington Square Park, near Greenwich Village but not in Greenwich Village.

People on couch
To continue reading please sign in.
Join for free