It's a Wonderful Life. Kinda.

Laurie Lindeen, ex-Zuzu's Petals frontwoman, remembers days of touring with a punk band and turning Paul Westerberg's head in her memoir, Petal Pusher

"It's not a rock bio," Lindeen says, seeming frustrated by the way her story has been packaged. "We were never stars, we never really made it." Indeed, it's painfully demoralizing for the Petals to watch one opening act after another sign to a major label while their own indie company loses interest in promoting them. But Westerberg keeps writing to her, and the relationship between them seems increasingly like a better investment of her time than the Petals' road to nowhere.

Lindeen's romance with Westerberg may have made her the envy of many, but no woman would envy experiences like having an audience member at your own show collar you to ask, "What's it like going out with God?" (It turns out that while God might help you rewrite your guitar solos, He will not record a harmonica part for your album.) Lindeen is in awe of his healthy routine of disciplined creative work followed by leisure time spent exercising, reading, and cooking, and she benefits from the financial boost he can give her out of subsistence-level living. In short, Westerberg has as much to recommend him as the average single engineer at 3M.

Lindeen stirs the ice cubes in her near-empty glass as she remembers her single-minded devotion to the band. "I was gonna go for it, giving everything. But I didn't have any concept about what 'everything' would mean—personal space, protection." After four years spent touring with the Petals, "it turns out I was ill-suited for the work," she says candidly.

The hand that rocks the cradle also rocks a '63 Gibson SG: Laurie Lindeen
Daniel Corrigan
The hand that rocks the cradle also rocks a '63 Gibson SG: Laurie Lindeen

"In the end, it was a jumping block to becoming a writer. The song was becoming too small a container," she explains. Her collection of notebook journals, travelogues, poetry, and short stories gave her the raw material she needed when she enrolled at a master's program in writing at the University of Minnesota. "I already had my voice; it was almost as if I had too much a voice. I was there to learn discipline, structure," she says of her formal education.

Now married to Westerberg and living with him and their elementary-aged son, she's already working on a second book—a sequel that picks up where Petal Pusher leaves off (around 1995). One gets the idea that Lindeen could still find herself surprised by where her life's course leaves her.

Looking both wary and amused, she confesses before leaving the suburban cantina, "I think I've seen too many Marilyn Monroe movies, where it ends with her looking into the camera with an expression like, 'This is good, right?'"

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