BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, 1983 – There is no denying the influence of political ideologies on music that fires the bold imagination of musically excitable youth. Sadly, this flirtation with idealism and radical change is a short affair and at its conclusion, generally leads to madness, substance abuse or, a middle-level position at a small, accounting firm in Maumee.
That was made apparent to Your Humble Narrator (YHN) when it seemed that the songs and the folks singing the songs that Dylan, Slick and Country Joe were singing couldn’t stop a bottle rocket war in Sheboygin let alone a police action in Saigon.
It was made even worse when the music playing from every window in the quad became implicated in the brutal murder and dismemberment of Ms. Aquarian Bliss by her live-in lover Heyman Groovy over who loves Tania the best.
Post Punk pop reality realized that the only thing of value left that could be picked from the bloated carcass of sixties hedonistic excess and the casual degradation of ideals in the early seventies was a notion that politics and entertainment were pretty much the same mass media thing.
An American dream with a Top-of-the-Pops, Mephistophelian twist and commercials designed to work on your most primal urges.
All bets seemed to be off. It seemed if you worked your schtick hard enough and got lucky enough you could be in the entertainment “biz” or in the “show” called politics.
Of course, nice hair helped but, wasn’t required. Mostly artifice and the ability to not let the constant repetition – in hundreds of venues in front of thousands of people – drive you insane is all that was needed to succeed.
You had to choose tho, you didn’t get some kind of dual-major, hedge your bets kind of choice with this journey, you had to pick a path early and then, move boldly forward, looking neither right or left along your chosen path.
Squeaky-clean cut cadre to the right and parents will worry cult to the left. Your guides Mr. Rogers and Ozzy will help show you the way.
That is just the way it is for most of us. Of course, there are exceptions. Truly unique and rare individuals can stroll both paths with casual elegance and pioneering grace but, with Sonny Bono as an exemplar, you can recognize how too terribly few of them there are who walk among us.
Joyce Linehan, is among the rarest individuals YHN has had the tremendous fortune to call friend. She travels both paths and is working to get them widened for everyone.
She was instrumental in convincing YHN to return to Boston after being in NYC to take the job of house engineer for a new club called Storyville.
She sweetened the pot by offering a touring gig and some recording session work with a band she managed called the Prime Movers. She was just out of High School.
Now, there are some managers who exist only for their percentage and will work with you as long as you pay the bills. There are some who are sure (for only a small fee) that with their “special” charisma, connections, cocaine…whatever you will be bigger than Elvis.
Only on rare occasions do performers grab the brass ring of great management that is Joyce. She possessed an uncanny ability to read the zeitgeist and the Catholic discipline to do the work needed to inspire artists to inspire their audiences.
A foundational pillar of the Boston arts scene through her sage counsel, relentless encouragement, passionate advocacy and just plain godhead genius, Joyce had the gravity to keep Boston’s arts and music scene in orbit for many years.
It is what she did after she mastered that seemingly impossible feat that makes her Gurl 27.
She made her bones the old-fashioned way. She was hard-nosed and relentless in her quest to make those around her feel recognized. Despite her youth and inexperience, her formidable skills were quickly noticed by others as the Prime Movers began touring with bigger and bigger acts.
Bands, like orphans desperate for the security that comes from being truly loved, vied for her care and attention. Her charges included the Smithereens, the Lemonheads, Six Finger Satellite and countless others.
Her home in Dorchester dubbed “Ashmonticello” due to its proximity to the fabled “T” stop and neighborhood became a haven for visiting artists like Kathleen Hanna, David Yow, Elliot Smith, Eddie Vedder and even Courtney Love, who wrote a song while there.
Having dipped a toe in local politics and with public service literally in her blood, Joyce began moving away from the hard edges of art into the harder edges of politics.
The same grit, loyalty, vision, discipline and relentless cheer that served her well in the alternative music scene began to pay off in unexpected ways.
As Senator Warren contemplated a run for the Senate, she knew Ashmonticello, in the same room that countless punk icons have slept on, was the perfect place for her first house party.
One source reported: Warren recalled Linehan’s living room, dining room, and hallway jammed with people. “We had a fast, lively, no-holds-barred discussion about what was at stake for Massachusetts families,’’ Warren wrote. It was the beginning of a deep appreciation.
Not being content with introducing a Senator, Joyce, feeling a hometown and familial connection with a young politician with little hope of winning any office and began assisting a fellow named Marty Walsh.
It seems to have worked out well for both of them.
Gurl Twenty Seven showed that noting is impossible if you work as hard to be honest as you do to make you neighbors life better.
No votes were cast in the writing of this story.
Herbert Stencil is a character from the novel “V.,” and is known for his quest to find a certain feminine embodiment of something both real and imagined. He is also known for communicating only in the third person.
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