Saturday, October 3, 1998 - Telephone interview with Christine Lavin

Playing "The Kind of Love" on the air as the interview begins:

Angela: That's Christine Lavin from her new CD One Wild Night, and I'm hoping that I have Christine on the line here...

Christine: Hi Angie

Angela: ...Yeah I do

Christine: I'm still in bed!

Angela: You are not, or were you up last night playing?

Christine: No I couldn't sleep last night, I watched a scary movie on HBO

Angela: Wait a minute, I thought you were up killing a bug maybe.

Christine: No, no I watched that movie "The Devil's Advocate" and it scared me. Did you see it?

Angela: No, I don't have any time to watch TV Christine. (laugh)

Christine: Oh that's right you're a mom

Angela: No, I'm out catching folk music.

Christine: Oh who was playing last night.

Angela: Actually nobody was playing last night, I had a night off, but there has been some fabulous music. In fact, we were hoping to get both Ellis Paul and Sloan Wainwright to call in today so there is a lot of stuff going on.

Christine: Are they playing in the neighborhood

Angela: They are. Sloan about an hour north and Ellis playing right near where you are playing tonight, but playing tomorrow afternoon. Actually if they called now, we could jut all chat!

Christine: Oh that would be great, we could just gossip up a storm.

Angela: Well you did this dj thing, so I know you'd be good.

Christine: Well, I'm a huge fan of both of theirs. In fact i even saw- doesn't Sloan own a bakery?

Angela: That's right

Christine: In Westchester County right?

Angela: Katonah

Christine: Yeah, I saw it, but it was the middle of the night so nobody was there. Does she have a new record out?

Angela: She does, and we aired a couple of tunes from it in the last few weeks. She is such a sweetie pie, such a nice person.

Christine: She has a beautiful voice! And Ellis Paul is another one who is a real genuine folk singer. When I first met him, he was carrying around in his guitar case a chunk of the foundation of the Woody Guthrie's house

Angela: Oh that's a riot

Christine: Yeah, this big chunk of cement in his guitar case. It must have weighed a good 10 pounds. It came from Woody's house!

Angela: His new CD, maybe you haven't heard it, it is just, just out, but it really woes you. A simple sliding journey into deep emotions and deep thinking..

Christine: No I haven't heard it

Angela: It's really good

Christine: What's the name of it

Angela: Translucent Soul ooh

Angela: which is the title cut which he wrote for Vance. `Course I aired Vance's tune for Ellis back to back with his tune for...... you know this is typically you Christine. You are calling for your own little time and you are pushing all these other people!

Christine: (laughs) Well I don't want to talk about myself, that's so rude and egotistical

Angela: BUT- you have a new cd out!

Christine: Yeah

Angela: And I think its just fabulous

Christine: Thanks

Angela: In true Christine style you said 'Whoa! I should have my own label, be on the net, this is the way to go...' and that is what you have done.

Christine: Well the way I ended up with my own record is that I did this concert at Wesleyan University. It was just one night and we had no thought of making a record. We were taping for a radio show. After the concert I was talking to the promoter because I've been on this thing for a long time about Cheryl Wheeler- she has got to do a live album.

Angela: Mmmmm

Christine: Because Cheryl is such a great consistent singer and so funny between her songs. I was talking about the promoter about this and she said "Well you know Cheryl has performed here three years in a row. We have all three concerts on DAT tape." I said, "Well maybe Cheryl has already made the record! Maybe it is already in the can." Then I woke up the next day and said, "Wait a minute, I just did a show, mine is on DAT tape- maybe I have a record in the can!" And here it is, a year later, I have a record out and Cheryl still doesn't have a live one. But I won't rest until Cheryl puts out a live record.

Angela: Well that proves it. When you are thinking of other people you do good for yourself.

Christine: Yeah! That worked out.

Angela: Yeah, Cheryl is a whole show with just her introductions. I could just see her do introductions all night - that would be fine.

Christine: I once saw her do a show in Columbus Ohio, and was with some people who decided to count the number of songs she did. She did a concert that was an hour and 45 minutes and she sang 8 songs. (laughs)

Angela: Well I'd love to see you and Cheryl on the same night just doing introductions an introduction swap...

Christine: That would be like watching - there is a TV show called entertainment.. they do a whole show of coming attractions- (laughs) and it's nothing but trailers for movies.

Angela: That's a riot! I am wondering if you would talk a bit - because this is something I think you really have a handle on and other artists can't seem to...

Christine: oh what's this now?

Angela: to balance your creativity with the whole idea of commerce because you really have that down.

Christine: Oh you think so?

Angela: Yes, I know so. Just watching you work for a good part of 20 years...

Christine: Well it is a constant struggle. The reason I started my own record label is that - you know we write our songs- songwriters do it with our hearts and our souls and we connect with our audiences - this music touches their hearts and their souls and unfortunately we have to go through a record company to get it to them. And the record companies just by the nature of what they do just don't put their hearts and souls into the work, I mean they Can't. If they have...

Angela: Yeah

Christine: ...100 artists on the label, if they got personally emotionally involved with every record they'd all end up in the looney bin! So, I think that it is tricky. it is using two sides of your brain. It is setting goals and trying to be a business person, but at the same time not losing sight of who you are writing songs for and what your goals are as a songwriter. So believe me, if you think I've got it down I don't it is a constant struggle.

Angela: Absolutely everybody wants a quote from you. You must be.... I'm imagining what you get, as far as mail goes, because I certainly get a lot and I see your name -Christine Lavin says this, thinks that,

Christine: I hope some of them are real. I'm very surprised when someone I don't even know asks me to do it and I don't even know their work, because usually if I do it, I volunteer it. There are so many good people. Have you heard Susan Werner's new record?

Angela: Oh it is great!

Christine: Isn't it amazing?!

Angela: I've already put three or four on the air, it is really really good.

Christine: You know I think she is another who is so multi-talented.

Angela: She is.

Christine: And finally she has made an album that shows off all the different styles of music that she does so well.

Angela: I did a show a while back after seeing her at Bodles "Why aren't these people more famous" and she was one that I featured.

Christine: Think it is just a matter of... well look how long it took Shawn Colvin to reach the level that she has. Believe me, that girl has done everything except stand behind the cash register at Tower and take the money. I mean the promotion! That is one of the really really difficult things it is such a key part to really advancing your career and to me it totally can destroy your soul.

Angela: That is it. It's so key and it is so absolutely opposite to creativity, which is what you are marketing so Yeah

Angela: What a circle!

Christine: That is why with the big record companies, you see an artist break through with a huge record and then that's it because... you know Im amazed watching Sara McLauchlan's career because she didn't do anything but tour and promote her first album for two or three years, and then had to quick do another record and go out there again and she is doing an amazing job. She is a fabulous singer. I am totally in awe of how she does it because it's on such a grand scale. I just hope she has good people around her to make sure she is getting what she deserves, monetarily, because there is so much money coming in from that Lilleth Fair project.

Angela: Then you know it is sustainable, if she does. Yeah.

Angela: Who is your dream singer for which of your songs? I have the laugh tracks here ( I mean big league babe! oh well) and that must be such a compliment - but who would you love to hear do what? Ever thought about that?

Christine: Ohhhh. Well.... you know who I'd love to have do The kind of love you never recover from is Red Grammer.

Angela: Oh neat! What a voice huh! Oh yeah,

Angela: Maybe he will come see you tonight- he live right there you know? Yeah- oh wouldn't that be something. I saw him a few weeks ago, he came to the city with his wife and we went out and sat in this little outdoor cafe and talked for hours and hours about everything.

Angela: They are fascinating. Ill call them maybe and remind them you are playing.

Christine: That would be nice.

Angela: Wow, kind of love ...maybe we can make your wish come true tonight. He could come and sing it with you. Wouldn't that be cool?

Christine: I don't think he KNOWS the song! That would really be putting him on the spot - a performers nightmare - you are in a night club, you are there seeing a friend of yours and suddenly the spot light is on you COME ON UP Red, and sing a song you don't know! (laughing)

Angela: So what is your next big idea!

Christine: Um, my new big idea...

Angela: You know, you have done everything- last time I saw you at Bodles you said, "Oh I have to get up early tomorrow I'm filming with Paul Newman" or something?

Christine: Oh that was funny. I was in a play, a one time only play at his camp in CT. I was in a play with Julia Roberts and Paul Newman and Tony Randall...


Christine: But trust me Angie I was in Way over my head- I'd never been a play before- Nathan Lane was in it too- that was kind of scary - they are all such pros- Well one of the very interesting things- you mentioned you played my song The Wild Blue (actually it was 8 22 98) about Japanese Kamikaze pilots in world war two and there is a director here in New York named Lonnie Price who is the artistic director of musical theatre works who specialize in developing musical projects to bring to the theatre. He is very interested, we've had a few meetings, having another one next week with some book writers and agent songwriters to take that story and I don't know if it will be based on my song, or just take the story that my song is based on and make it either a musical or an opera. They want me to involved in the writing of that. To me it is very scary because I don't know how to write or read music, I mean I write it, but I don't know how to write it down. I have no formal connections with the theatre- but I do believe it is a story that would certainly lend itself to a much larger.. you know my song is about nine minutes long...

Angela: Yeah, it's long...

Christine: but it is a story that spans 50 years and two cultures-

Angela: It is so engaging- you can't say you have no connection with theatre- you do it every day!

Christine: Well it is interesting a lot of the folk performers, we have learned how to be theatre performers just by doing. We have done it in sort of a home made way and not through taking courses in acting and voice projection -all those things we sort of learn through doing. But it is intimidating. A couple of years ago I was invited to be part of a series called "o solo mio" all solo performers in the theatre. I got so scared and dropped out (laughs) two weeks before

Angela: Oh no!

Christine: before my performance... well part of it was that they assigned a director ...he is very successful broadway director now, this is a couple of years ago, before he was- and he is a type who likes to work -you are noticing I'm not mentioning his name- but he likes to work with his back against the wall- you know- and I like - if Im working on something, I don't want to be memorizing the night before- I like to prepare and know what I'm doing. He wanted me to be in costumes and have sets flying in and out and it was basically do the songs I do, but dress them up. And I kept saying "If you can understand the song with my singing it and playing the guitar why do I have to have a costume on, you don't have to have a set there, you don't need that -it is not necessary it works without it." He kept saying "it will be theatre that way" And I kept thinking, well what is it without all those things? So I ended up running and screaming and not doing it. I may in the future.

Angela: You said that the folksingers find out what works and keep on doing it. That reminds me of the little boy who played Gavroche in 'Les Mis' on Broadway, I knew, said "Well the way I get laughs is try it one way, one day, and hear them laugh or not laugh, and when I hear it the loudest, I do it that way every night!" (laughing) and that's it!

Christine: Yeah

Angela: and from a nine year boy ...yeah.... Well we only have about 8 minutes left here on Folk Plus, I appreciate you talking with me, but I have queued up "The relaxation tape" because there is a whole crew of teens around here that like this... your next cd ought to be a teenie bopper cd.

Christine: Oh wow

Angela: ..some of your songs are really going down with the 12 to 15 year old crowd.

Christine: Well this is really based on a real experience. A woman came to me in Madison Wi with a relaxation tape and she begged me to take it and not give it back to her even if she begged for it. I said "What's this about Come on tell me what's the story behind this." She admitted that she had fallen in love with the voice and that it had taken over her life. She became addicted to it. Every night she said she would throw the tape into the garbage and say I can't go on like this and in the morning apologize and take it out of the garbage and continue listening over and over and over. She was addicted! So since I was a traveling performer who lived in New York, she knew I'd be leaving town the next day- and if I took the tape she could finally get her life together. (laughs) So I did, and never saw her again. But I couldn't stop thinking about what an odd thing that was, so I wrote the song based on what might happen to her if she ever tried to find the actual person who made the tape.

Angela: Well when you do find her - and she contacts you - we will have a sequel Im sure- so this is Christine Lavin who we are speaking to here on Folk Plus and if you are in the area of Chester - it is exit 126 off route 17 tonight you can hear her live at Bodles. Thanks for talking with us today Christine.

Christine: Sure Angie, take care. I'll see you tonight-

Angela: and here is your relaxation song...

Christine: Ok bye bye
Angela Page - Host of "Folk Plus"
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