Life in a band is exhilarating, and Laurie Lindeen, who formed the trio Zuzu’s Petals with her gal pals in the midst of the 1980s Minneapolis indie-rock scene, takes her readers along on her surprisingly deep, personal journey.
It was a no-brainer for songwriter Laurie Lindeen—being with the band was not nearly as cool as being in the band. So Lindeen and her gal pals formed the trio Zuzu’s Petals, the thrills and misadventures of which she chronicles in her memoir Petal Pusher. Creating the group in the midst of the 1980s Minneapolis indie-rock scene, the Petals struggle to make it big in a male-dominated arena. Their uphill battle includes DIY-style touring, complete with squalid motels, hole-in-the-wall venues, gag-worthy rest stops, and modest pay. Still, life on the road is exhilarating, and Lindeen takes her readers along for the ride, practically throwing us into the back seat of the “Dream Van” to experience the glory of living out the rock ‘n’ roll fantasy. But as Lindeen hops from city to city, strumming her guitar and belting out her melodies, it becomes clear that she’s not only on tour but also on the run. Awaiting her at home is a dead-end job, the aftermath of her parents’ painful divorce, and the reality of her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. It’s a deeply personal journey, and Lindeen shares it candidly, dousing her anecdotes with humanity and self-deprecating humor—whether she’s discussing the best way to eat grilled cheese sandwiches with Replacements rocker Paul Westerberg (later to become her husband), getting choked while performing on stage by a “very drunk grunge girl,” or having an abortion. And that’s why you hope she keeps letting you sit quietly in the van, taking it all in, as her adventure trucks along.