When his father died too young, Tom Petty was there | Art Stories and Interviews | Saint Louis

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Ariana Mygatt

Dead Dad Club is music critic Katie Moulton’s debut memoir, an audio tale featuring original compositions by Evan Stephens Hall of indie rock band Pinegrove.

During the first moments of her first show as a DJ on community radio WFHB, Katie Moulton notices something is wrong. Looking at the still levels of the soundboard, she realizes that no one can hear her.

“Dead air, dead air, dead air, dead air,she thinks, panicked.

But his problem is quickly diagnosed: his microphone is off. Moulton bounces back.

“‘Hi guys, you’re listening to WFHB,’ I said, ‘I’m Katie, this is my first show, and you just heard my first official tech difficulty.’ It’s 9:03 a.m. in sunny Bloomington, Indiana. Then I played Tom Petty…””

The moment – which comes a little before halfway through Moulton’s memoir, Dead Dad Club: On Heartbreak and Tom Petty, who Audible released as an audiobook original last month – feels simple and cheerful as it highlights Moulton’s love for music. During this first two-hour set, she plays picks from Raphael Saadiq, Neil Young, father John Misty, Bob Dylan and others, and even tours the studio at the New Young Pony Club, which the general manager from the station comes applauding. , with some light comments: maybe not more than one Tom Petty song.

“It’s my birthday,” she replies.

Click to enlarge Moulton traces the impact of his father's death and their shared love for the music they shared, all in the face of

Courtesy Audible

Moulton traces the impact of his father’s death and their shared love for the music they shared, all in the face of “dad rock” figures throughout history.

Tom Petty’s importance to Moulton’s memoirs cannot be overstated (see title), but birthdays also carry significant weight, marking the passage of time and seemingly drawing memorable events to them – the most important of which is the death of her father shortly before her. marked its 17th year.

Through the memoirs, Moulton traces the impact of her father’s death, a systemic failure brought on by alcoholism, on her and her mother as well as the deep love for music they shared, all against “dad rock” figures throughout history and their often addictive personalities, and in Bloomington, where his parents met and fell in love.

“It mixes personal storytelling with writing about music, particularly focusing on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,” says Moulton. “It’s sort of a record of coming of age through mourning.”

dead dads club is not a memoir of grief in the same way as Year of Magical Thinking is, which reveals the heartbreaking pain of Joan Didion and the gradual acceptance of the reality of her husband’s death. While there are times when Moulton openly shares her grief, she often approaches the subject elliptically, digging deeper into the impact of her life as well as her story of being in the same town where her parents met and have fallen in love. to like.

The memoirs touch on the struggle, but it’s not too sad a book. More than anything, it’s contemplative, with real moments of humor, joy, and connection between family and friends. It’s also easy to listen to thanks to Moulton’s narration, which is calm and even, with a background score composed by Evan Stephens Hall of indie rock band Pinegrove.

Moulton, who is 36 years old and originally from Saint-Louis, a music journalist and very good writer who, among other things, has written for the RFT and later served as music editor for Denver Westword, began working on the book in late 2015. She had written fiction just before and noticed how certain topics — parents, relationships, arrested development — kept coming up. Gradually these stories became essays and then a book where she placed herself under the same kind of lens she had used as a music critic.

In 2020, Audible picked up the book. Moulton could never have imagined dead dads club would be audio first, but soon she found herself imagining the possibilities.

“I was really excited,” she says, noting the freedom and reach the large platform allowed. “For a music-obsessed storyteller, the idea that through audio, through the audible, through audio-first storytelling, I could actually incorporate an original score into the storytelling was so exciting. “

After signing the deal, Moulton spent the next few months reworking his text to make it audiobook friendly, adding elements to let the listener know where they were in time.

Having Hall, a friend, sign up for the project was pivotal. Instead of just reviewing already existing music, she would help create something new through collaboration.

“It was a huge gift,” she says. “His idea was a kind of deconstructed rock from the heart of America with my narration, my voice as percussive momentum. So not to get in the way of that, but to enhance it and deepen the resonance of the different parts, and also provide some of those audio cues and audio flow that can be really helpful for listeners.

Another gift was the feedback that started to arrive. Moulton says she’s heard from friends and strangers since her release, a weird feeling after working on the project alone for so long.

But while it’s satisfying, Moulton isn’t taking a break from his own work. She continued to write and has other music writing projects on the horizon, and maybe even multimedia. I want to keep doing this and keep growing,” she says. “Maybe I’ll go back to the recording studio at some point.”

To listen dead dads club on Audible, where it is available free to current Audible subscribers or as a one-time download.

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