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May 2, 2012

Kris D’Agostino on his Mother’s Free Spirit

Kris D’Agostino lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in a preschool. THE SLEEPY HOLLOW FAMILY ALMANAC, which follows 24-year-old Calvin Moretti as he struggles to find a respectable job and deals with frivolous family drama, is his first novel. 

My mother got me into music. She did it before I was even born. When I was floating in the watery bliss that is in utero, my mother spent a lot of time by herself. My father was a career pilot and was often away on long trips. My mother listened to records. Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, The Byrds. I’m sure I heard Rumors, in its entirety, a hundred times before I was two. According to my mother though, my favorite record as a kid was Meat Loaf’s, Bat Out of Hell. So much so that when I was three years old and she dropped me off at daycare for the first time, I stood in the middle of the room and belted out the chorus to that song --- much to the teacher’s dismay.

            “Like a bat outta hell, I’ll be gone when the morning comes!” I sang.

At pickup the teacher raised her concerns to my mother about the appropriateness of my behavior.

            “I’m not sure he should be saying ‘hell’ in front of the other children,” she said.

            “I think it’s perfectly normal,” my mother said. “He loves the music. He’s a happy boy.”

The teacher lowered her voice. “I’m just not sure he should be swearing,” she said.

The teacher suggested that my mother might want to discourage me from singing like that in public.

My mother did no such thing. In fact, she encouraged me to get inside the music even more. I started taking piano lessons in the first grade. I remember listening to Phil Collins’, No Jacket Required and Paul Simon’s, Graceland, both purchased by my mother and played at loud volumes on my father’s hi-fi stereo setup in the TV room. My passion for music, instilled at that early age eventually fueled my passion for art in general and was the precursor to me falling in love with books and the written word and later, film. I still obsess over music and hopefully always will. One of my favorite things to do is roll down the windows in the car on a nice spring day and sing. I have a terrible voice and I try to do this only when I’m on deserted stretches of road and with no other cars or people in sight. I didn’t learn until I was much older, in my twenties, that my mother did the same thing. We were driving somewhere, I don’t remember where, and Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams came on the radio and she started singing along.

Thanks, Mom.