Margaret Moser’s dad wanted to name her Cassandra. She said, “Since myth has it she was doomed to tell the truth but not be believed, that would’ve been a helluva name to have when I was a gossip columnist. I also take great pride in being a Texan.”
This week’s playlist is for Margaret Moser, who told me years ago that her favorite music was: roots rock, Sixties rock, and Celtic music. She left explicit instructions for her Memorial at Antone’s this Sunday afternoon, so one of my late Chronicle mentor’s closest friends, E.A. Srere, shared with me her song selections, which is what this playlist is based on. And let’s get the mea culpa out of the way up front: It doesn’t include any Celtic music.
Margaret’s whole scene makes me wish I had been young with her. She made you believe you could do anything. It’s easy to imagine being 19 together and her saying, “Here, put on these silver wings and fly. No, really, you can do it. Jump off the roof. It’ll be fine.”
When I was little, she invited me to my first gig – the Austin Music Awards. When I was barely high school age, she invited me to write for the Chronicle. I used to organize teen band shows, and it turned out she did too. She called them the “Teen Canteen” in San Antonio, where she grew up.
That’s the thing about Margaret. She made me feel part of something even before I knew I was ready. When she said, “Do this,” the only thing to do was say, “Okay.” At some point, she told me to start calling her “Auntie M” and we crossed the line into being family.
When she was getting ready to retire, I asked her how she felt about her career.
“Incredibly lucky,” she told me. “How many women are paid full-time to write about music? Especially women my age? Not only that, but I’ve gotten to edit writers like Lawrence Wright, Marion Winik, and Harvey Pekar. Editing helped my writing more than anything else.
“Working with other writers’ words taught me more about style and voice than any classes I could have taken.”
Margaret Moser is a legend in this town. She’s got her own Margaret Moser Plaza. Thankfully, she was there for its unveiling.
The last time I saw Margaret was June in San Antonio. That was right after she’d written some of us to say that “Jesus fucking Christ” her cancer was back. In the next sentence she informed us that her new favorite ice cream was Blue Bell’s Bride’s Cake – to help keep some weight on. She admitted her survival up to that point had been “miraculous.”
With love she reminded us all to keep “opening those back doors,” something inspired by John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire. Damn straight, good advice. Here’s a soundtrack to open doorways.
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