A Memoir: Belinda Carlisle ‘Lips Unsealed’
In Belinda Carlisle’s memoir ‘Lips Unsealed’, she shares her belief that people don’t find books, but rather books find people. After reading ‘Lips Unsealed’, I’d have to agree.
This book is a first for me for many reasons, but most significantly, it is the first book I’ve ever read from cover to cover about a female music artist. I’ve read about The Beatles (both as a group and individuals), Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, The Doors and Frank Sinatra, when it was pointed out to me by a very wise person (female) that I ought to read a book about an artist of the fairer sex. Considering the laundry list of male artists I’d read about, I was hard put to choose a female who was as equally epic. I now own books on Billie Holiday, Madonna, Joni Mitchell and Carole King, yet none of them really got me that excited.
Then, while simply browsing at the bookstore, not even thinking ‘female artist books’, I spied Belinda’s memoir on the shelf and snatched it up. Belinda Carlisle was a Go-Go, and having grown up in the 80’s, the Go-Go’s were all that and a bag of chips. The opening sequence to the cult classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High opens with their pop-punk anthem “We Got The Beat”, and for me, that movie and that song were the entree to my teenage experience. I’d almost forgotten Belinda and the Go-Go’s, and what true rock/punk/pop divas they were before glancing her memoir that day, and it all came flooding back.
As the title, a play on a the Go-Go’s song title “Our Lips Are Sealed” suggests, Belinda tells all. Sex, drugs and, of course, rock and roll. But this is where I come to the second first in my biography-reading experience; this was not a biography, but an autobiography. I did read George Harrison’s autobiography, but it wasn’t very much of one and somewhat lacking in revelation, so I’m counting Belinda’s as my first real autobiography.
Prior to sitting down to write this review, I browsed around and read a few others. As expected, they focused on Belinda’s struggle with her cocaine addiction which – undoubtedly – was a big part of the book. Yet, for me, that was Belinda’s personal struggle, which I’m happy to say she seems to have overcome. What intrigued me far more was the footprint Belinda and the girls (the Go-Go’s) left on the previously male dominated rock scene, and when I say footprint, I mean it literally. The Go-Go’s kicked in the door and said “look here boys, we rock just as hard as you if not harder”. And they did. As Belinda states (and I paraphrase) in the last chapter of her book, “My journey has been sad, tough, amazing, stupid, silly and enlightening”, and her book certainly portrays that journey well. It was a cannot-put-it-down page turner, while musically serving as my own personal trip down memory lane. Not only did Belinda work with some of my favorite artists like George Harrison and John Taylor (my second favorite bass player), but she, along with the Go-Go’s, kicked some rock and roll ass.
What I loved best about ‘Lips Unsealed’ was that it was like a real life rock star memoir of Alice in Wonderland meets The Alchemist. It was an encouraging, inspiring, no holds barred story of Belinda’s journey and subsequent road to recovery. Along the way she did a Playboy pictorial, partied so hard she kept Rod Stewart up all night, and while attending the Grammys, had Maurice Gibb suggest she wipe the cocaine from her nose, only to skip out in the middle of the show with the other Go-Go’s when the were snubbed for best artist. Belinda Carlisle was a bad-ass rock and roller who could out-party most of her male counterparts… and then grew up living happily ever after.
Rock on Belinda. Thanks for sharing your amazing journey and experiences. Who needs Deepak Chopra when they’ve got ‘Lips Unsealed’, from somebody who really did it all, cleaned themselves up and lived to tell about it? You’re a super diva and an uber babe, and you always will be. The memoir was awesome, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. Long live the 80’s!
I’m glad this book found me.
click here for more musician book reviews and general Musicology musings