A rock ’n’ roll story gets a new chapter
It’s hardly your typical rock ’n’ roll saga. Joyce Raskin’s new memoir, Aching To Be: A Girl’s True Rock & Roll Story (Number One Press, 208 pps, $13.95, lulu.com/content/1192937), has little Behind the Music-style excess on display (unless you count the brief cameo from Courtney Love). And while it does have ups and downs of the sort all too familiar to many struggling young bands (lawsuits, sleazy A&R reps, endless tours), the real drama here is of a personal nature as she chronicles her own coming of age alongside that of her band Scarce.
The book has a diaristic honesty that spares no one, least of all Joyce herself. Raskin shines like a star onstage but struggles to find her equilibrium out of the spotlight. Looking back, Raskin wishes she hadn’t been so hard on her younger self.
“I was 25 [when the band ended] and I thought my life was over. I laugh at that now: so dramatic! I was just starting out — it’s okay to take bumps in the road.”
While the first part of the book captures Scarce’s meteoric, sometimes difficult rise, the final third of the book —detailing Chick’s medical crisis and the group’s desperate bid to gain back lost momentum— is harrowing and heart-breaking, as we see Joyce lose her best friend and her band to a slow, painful split.
Joyce knows the band deserved far better than that ignominious end. “I wish I’d had the guts to walk away from [the band] when Chick had the brain hemorrhage,” she tells me. “I forced him back into this life that maybe he didn’t want anymore. Or maybe he did, but it definitely felt like: ‘If I let go of this, am I letting go of his dream that only I can remember, or am I doing the wrong thing?’ I just didn’t know.”
Raskin has been working on the book since the band broke up. “Before I could move on, I really just needed to get it out. That was part of my therapy.”
Another necessary step: ending nine years of silence with Chick. To hear her tell it, Scarce’s reunion began the minute she picked up the phone. “I hadn’t spoken to him at all. I called him up and said, ‘Hey, Chick’ (blasé). And he said, ‘Hey, Joyce’ (blasé). I said, ‘How did you know it was me?!’ ‘I knew it was you.’ ” Raskin laughs. “We just started having this conversation. Eventually we said, ‘Let’s set up a show and see what happens.’ ”
With no expectations but to savor being a real band again, and no one to answer to but themselves, Scarce finally have the happy new beginning they deserved all along.
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