You know her – of course – as Peg Bundy from Married…with Children, the voice of Leela on Futurama, there was a run on the hopeful and then ill-fated 8 Simple Rules and then a more sustained, and far better run on Sons of Anarchy (as Gemma Morrow). She’s had a near-dream run on TV across the last quarter century, but Katey Sagal wanted to be a singer, and was only just comfortable with acting toward the end of her decade-long run as one of TV’s greatest Bad Mothers. Even then, she wasn’t sure. It probably took until her role on Sons of Anarchy (she’s married to the show’s creator, Kurt Sutter) for her to really feel comfortable.
In her memoir, brief, poetic, stirring, she talks through these shows and the times she’s been married…and eventually with children. She talks too of her dreams to make it as a musician.
She was in musicals and cover bands, she got some pretty great spots – adding BVs to records, going out on tour with Bette Middler and Etta James. There were dreams of making it as a solo star. She dated Gene Simmons briefly. She grew up with creative parents. The family was comfortable but barely stable, her mother was unhappy and then unhealthy, she died young. The father’s grizzly death occurred when Sagal was only just an adult.
But she’d had a leg up and into acting via her parents’ connections in the biz – it seemed a good thing to fall back on until the music career took off.
Next thing Married…with Children. A surprise runaway hit. Next thing more shows.
Grace Notes is an interesting, breezy, read. We are only getting some of the stories and not a lot of the depth, the title tells us that of course. But there are some good stories and this is a survivor’s tale – heartbreak is never far away from Sagal in her early years, from weight issues to early divorce, the loss of her folks, her own addictions, a desperation to find real – true – love. And the hope for a career, the lack of confidence too, even when seemingly she’s made it. From there the personal issues mount. The career starts to blossom.
It’s never as easy as we think for those allegedly living the ‘charmed’ life. That’s the take home there. Written thoughtfully, Grace Notes is enjoyable, and easy. And often very interesting.