Every month we ask Michelle Mangione, a really talented Los Angeles-based musician with a lot of recovery under her belt, to end our long, emotional family weekends with an upbeat musical send-off. She usually arrives in an SUV filled with drums of all kinds of shapes (she is a drummer first and foremost), a cello, and percussion instruments ranging from gourds to maracas to boxes of doggie treats. Everyone – clients, family members, friends, and staff -- participates, even if they have never played an instrument in their lives, let’s loose and leaves feeling good.
Me, I like the old Indian harmonium.
Last family weekend I heard for the first time “The Edge of Madness,” as yet unmixed. The Edge of Madness clip.mp3
Michelle wrote it with Grace Slick, the former Jefferson Airplane/Starship lead singer, also in recovery from addiction, to benefit Louisiana fishermen and musicians impacted by the BP oil spill. By the time it went for its final mix, 20 different musicians from a variety of genres and generations had travelled to Michelle’s bedroom studio in Long Beach to add their music and voices to the track, including Bill Medley (Righteous Brothers), Tom Dumont (No Doubt), Billy Zoom (X), Martha Davis (The Motels), Kid Ramos (The Fabulous Thunderbirds). Larry Hanson (Alabama), Terri Nunn (Berlin) and Steve Hodges (Tom Waits, Smashing Pumpkins). And although Grace has a new rock ‘n roll inspired career as a fine artist, she’s so concerned about the people of Louisiana that she came out of musical retirement to accompany Michelle as a background singer. I think the song has a great sound, which I am told by Michelle is “Zydeco fused with second-line and pop.”
The song had its debut at a Grammy Museum Grace Slick art exhibit and reception earlier this week on July 24th. Now it’s available for download from the Grammy Museum website; proceeds will be donated directly to The Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, and to the MusiCares Foundation® which provides emergency financial assistance to members of the music community.
From a normie’s perspective (in “Recovery Speak” a “normie” is someone like me, i.e. not an addict ) Michelle perfectly embodies the 12th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous. She is all about “giving back,” whether to our clients or to the less fortunate. I hope lots of people download “The Edge of Madness.” It’s definitely more constructive than watching the constant cable news coverage of the gulf and feeling utterly useless.