By Eddi Fiegel – Chicago Review Press

Mama Cass, though she grew to despise the “Mama” moniker, was too much of an anomaly to last. The Mamas & The Papas singer defied rock star cliches practically before they existed, relying on a gritty, soaring voice and a boisterous brand of humor to make up for her lack of physical beauty. Dream a Little Dream of Me is an astute examination of the bulb that burned out too fast, but it’s not without a few annoying problems. The only one that really bothers me is as follows: The author, Eddi Fiegel, continually talks down to the reader. “Remember folks, the ’60s were a much different time. It wasn’t common for women to get pregnant without a husband, or for...” blah-blah-blah. Or, “It’s tough to know what it was like if you weren’t really there.” Oh really? Sure, I’ll give you that, but my point is this: Yes, the sixties were a different time, but I think we all get that by now. My generation has had the sixties shoved down its throat so thoroughly I don’t see how there could be misunderstandings about how things were back then. Believe me, we know. Save that fairly pervasive flaw, though, Dream is made up of stories, remembrances, and quotes that stay with you. It is obvious that Cass Elliot (born Ellen Naomi Cohen) was a major figurehead in the early days of Los Angeles rock, both musically and socially, and Fiegel does a nice job of mixing anecdotal tales about Cass’ dealings with other Rock Gods (Lennon, et cetera) in with more biographical data. And yes, Fiegel does set the scene well despite the above-mentioned irk. You often feel like you’re in the middle of the room with these people as they congregate around Mama Cass’ domicile, sharing her love for music, food, and perhaps most of all, communion. It is sad Elliot didn’t have the opportunity to see her child live to be an adult and release more solo records, but then again a lot of these dead-too-soon rock stars just seemed star-crossed, period. Dream a Little Dream of Me does a good job of explaining why everyone’s favorite Mama fit right into that mold with extended forays into drugs, flippant relationships (with men that seemed to do a lot of taking and very little giving) and, dare I forget to mention it one last time, a huge appetite for not only food but fame and all the accoutrements that go with it. God bless her. (Grant Purdum)



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