I always liked the Cowsills but even as recently as a year and a half ago when I started this blog I wouldn’t have said I knew much about them or called them heroes of mine.
I do now.
And they are now.
Here’s a transcript of Susan Cowsill being interviewed for Family Band: The Cowsills Story (2013)
My father was emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually abusive. Probably tried to fuck me since I was born, til I was eleven.
The band broke up.
This is my…this is my ten-year-old person, whoever, this is how she sees it.
It was a night, Mom was working and I was in my bedroom and my Dad came into my bedroom. And I will tell you, in short, that I knew what was going on with me from the minute it started until the minute it ended and I had a plan to end it.
It was like ‘Dad’s trying to get in my bed.’ And I had Cat Stevens’ Tea For the Tillerman on my hi-fi. And I remember him taking it off and he came in and he was just doing his thing and I said to him, I said, ‘Dad, you need to leave me alone.’ And he was like, uh, swagger sailor. He was like ‘What-t-t-t-t?….Kid, what’d you say?’ And he came over by my bed and he was leaning over me going, ‘What the….What did you just fuckin’ say?’
And I said, ‘Get the fuck’–‘cause he said ‘fuck’ so I’m just gonna say ‘fuck’ too–‘Get the fuck out of my room!’
He got sober for like two good seconds.
He went–’Cause I’ve never said anything like this to this man!–and he hauled off and full on man-punched me. And I Charlie’s Angel kicked him. He like sprawled. It was like bad wrestling on TV and, you know, Dad couldn’t even get up. And I was just like ‘This is the bomb!’ And I was bleeding and I knew I was a mess. But I felt nothing. Endorphins were just like raging.
And he looked at me and he said….“You’re not even worth it,’ and walked out.
And I went ‘Cool! Right! Excellent! Go now!’ And he walked out the door or crawled out the door. Shut it. I took the little thing (motions picking up a record needle), put Tea For the Tillerman back on and laid back in my bed and just reveled in the moment.
I was so grateful to whoever it was that was inside of me that just pulled that off.
…My mother and I never spoke about anything that happened. We had one conversation and the words were ‘What happened to you?’ My answer was ‘Dad.’
And her next words were, ‘Well, where do you want to go?’ and I said (her brother) ‘Paul’s.’
(NOTE: I plan to write more extensively about Louise Palanker and Bill Filipak’s fine documentary in the next few weeks. For now, here are the surviving members of the Cowsills knocking it clean out of the park on one of those hit-and-miss PBS oldies’ specials.)
The Cowsills “Hair” (Live on Television, 2007)