Charlotte Kemp Muhl
The GOASTT is two people, SEAN LENNON and CHARLOTTE KEMP MUHL. It is, in itself, a chimera; a fabulous creature made with parts of two distinctly different creatures. It is also an acronym, as you might guess from its being capitalized like that. By virtue of being a friend to, and fan of, both the zygotes in this organism, I know what its letters stand for, but it’s not mine to reveal. I expect they will do so at some future point.
Sean Lennon is a man of many hats. Like an alien who fell to earth and had to quickly assimilate humanity, he is a vast rolodex of accents, facts, a myriad of motor skills (from archery to sketching), and can play any musical instrument. Hyper-aware, there’s almost nothing he isn’t good at... This may be the result of his legendary genetic endowment, or simply the enormous pressure of his parentage; his father was perhaps the most accessible and experimental songwriter of his century. But, just as Sean reached the age of five, his father was assassinated. As a consequence of this huge event and other shadows, Sean’s life has been strangely both circumscribed and exaggerated. When I briefly encountered Sean’s mother as an avant-garde artist at Wesleyan University in January of 1966, I thought she had the most original mind I’d ever met. Later as she was dragged across the yawning screen of American hypercelebrity, I didn’t know what to think, save that she, and all around her, seemed improbable.
And improbable was the first word that came to mind when I met Kemp Muhl almost exactly 40 years later. Though her background was as unlikely as Sean’s, hers was as private in its peculiarities as his was public. She is such a free-running spring of cool creativity, that it didn’t surprise me much when, shortly after she paired off with Sean and began to experience the musical ecosystem that is his unique mind, she revealed herself to have an utterly original sense of melody and lyrical realization as well. Her lines are like Borges short stories. I might have known.
As a symbol of her transformation for Sean, she now goes by Charlotte (her first name), much like a Native American who gets a new name upon having killed their first buffalo. Erstwhile Sean (since his past chapters of turmoil and Shakespearean tragedy) has shed the dark scales of his brooding artist skin for that of a newfound composer and puckish poet of an invincible fiber.