Am selling my CDs myself - want 'em autographed? Just ask! I'm the president, messenger, receptionist, and bookkeeper of my record company.
My four most recent albums now for sale -- Christmas/Hanukah/Solstice/Kwanzaa is coming -- what a nice gift. And I'll autograph them, which will make them more valuable at the Antiques Road Show centuries from now. https://christinelavin.com/product/cds/
The four are: "On My Way To Hooterville," (Oct 2020), "The Best of CL" (September 2019), "Spagenettification" (August 2017), and "Hillary Rollins Presents CL & Friends Live At McCabe's" (November 2015).
All four have extensive liner notes that are free downloads on my homepage:
"Hooterville" liner notes: https://christinelavin.com/about/linernotes/c/4338
"Best Of CL" liner notes: https://christinelavin.com/about/linernotes/c/4337
"Spaghettification" liner notes: https://christinelavin.com/about/linernotes/c/4339
"Hillary Rollins Presents CL & Friends" https://christinelavin.com/about/linernotes/c/4340
Any second now the albums will also be available digitally from my site (mp3s), though they are also at iTunes and spotify and other places I'm sure I don't even know about it. So I figure you know how to get them digitally, but physical discs -- aha! This is the only place. Why buy my CDs? These are probably the last four I will ever make. Concerts aren't happening. I make videos, but mostly for free. I'm hoping this will sustain me for the next couple of years until concert work comes back. If it does.
Ira Mayer, a very respected journalist, wrote the liner notes for my new album, so in case you don't know my history, here's what he wrote:
And Now, Hooterville is Pleased to Present . . . Christiiiiiiine Lavin!
by Ira Mayer
If you are already familiar with Christine Lavin, you probably know the avenue by which you got to her music. You are likely to own more than one of her 24 solo albums created over the course of her 40-some year career.
Maybe you discovered her at The Bottom Line, or Caffe Lena, or one of several clubs she sings about but doesn’t identify in the three “Hooterville” songs on this album.
Maybe it was Fast Folk. Or a Bob Sherman “Woody’s Children” anniversary concert that she no doubt helped put together and that you heard on the radio or were lucky enough to attend.
Perhaps it was via the Four Bitchin’ Babes. Or the On A Winter’s Night CDs or tours. Or one of the many online concerts she’s hosted and performed on, introducing her musical friends new and old. (Chris is one of the biggest boosters of other artists out there, and not just folkies.)
Maybe it was one of her stints guest hosting John Platt’s show on WFUV/Public Radio — shout out here on “First Dance/Last Dance,” which she recorded on that show one Sunday morning, not normally a time for a folksinger to be up, as Chris will be the first to tell you — but in this case a gift to all of us. Thanks, John, for taking a vacation!
If you aren’t already familiar with Christine Lavin, this 25th solo album is as good an introduction as you will need to be inspired to dig back into the others, find live performances on Youtube, or go to Vimeo to view and listen to the poignant videos she’s been making to illustrate her songs, as for “First Dance Last Dance” and “Ode to Clint Eastwood.” (She also makes videos for other artists; that’s a story for another time.)
The videos are a relatively late addition to Chris’s music-making; they point up a characteristic of her music that has always been there, and which is key to Chris’s unparalleled ability to draw people into her world: She writes visual songs. Precise little vignettes. Eloquent, sometimes wistful one act plays — three acts here, for the album’s title song.
But here’s the thing: Chris’s songs don’t need the videos to be seen. Listen to “My Sister Mary and My Mother” and tell me you can’t picture that gorgeous song in its entirety. Only then should you check out the delightful video and story to go with it (see Chris’s notes below).
Or “Ramblin’ Waltz,” a 45-year-old number she wrote when she was an entourage driver for the first week of Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Revue” tour. If you have ever seen Ramblin’ Jack Elliott — and I hope you have — this song will dance itself to you. In Technicolor. If you haven’t seen Ramblin’ Jack, you’ll get the picture all the same.
Or the jazzy “Ray’s Copy Shop,” mostly composed 20 years ago, only finished this year — it’s Dave Frishberg crossed with Tom Waits hangin’ on the Upper West Side. And “Until That Day,” a love song to her parents, complete with requisite subway scene. That’s a take.
Chris’s spot-on comic instincts and timing are most in evidence in this set by “Wut?” and “The Quiet Car.” Her humor is not always, shall we say, subtle. But it works; even hearing some of her funny songs over and over (there’s a joke there for “Wut?” but you’ll need to listen first) the fun doesn’t wear out because it’s situational. Again, we are all embedded inside Christine Lavin’s songs. Go to an earlier CD or online and cue “Sensitive New Age Guys” and “Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind” or its updated companion, “Good Thing She Can’t Read My Mind,” for two of her most popular examples.
There is one side of Chris’s songwriting that is missing on this album: There are no political songs.
I haven’t asked her specifically why, and you can find plenty of ripped-from-the-headlines Christine Lavin songs online, but most of this album was produced during the Covid-19 lockdown and in the runup to the 2020 presidential election. Maybe it’s just too fraught a time, too angry a moment. Maybe Chris is unconsciously suggesting we focus on the good inside. I’m OK with that. VERY OK.
Truth is, good as Chris’s recorded output is, nothing compares to a Christine Lavin concert. I’ve been to dozens over those 40 years, starting back when that was her night gig while by day she was a medical typist at Bellevue Hospital. (Back then I was reviewing for the New York Post.)
Fast forward: In February 2020, just before the lockdowns, my family and I were privileged to host a house concert with Chris in our living room, which 50 relatives and friends attended. The intimacy of that night, at which she performed many of the songs in this set, was stunning. The actress Christine Lavin used every facial muscle to accent the songwriter Christine Lavin’s lyrics, her voice as steady and strong as ever. That, and the video projector she brought with her to share some of her videos, transformed our living room into Chris’s own personal theater.
Put this CD in your player (yes, most of us in the Christine Lavin fan club still have CD players), or start your stream. Close your eyes and listen to these songs. You can see them, can’t you?
Ira Mayer is a forever Christine Lavin fan and former contributor to the Rockaway Wave, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Record World, Sunday New York Times, Music Week, the New York Post, and more. For periodic current jottings about music and theater, visit www.nightmayer.net.
- Am selling my CDs myself - want 'em autographed? Just ask! I'm the president, messenger, receptionist, and bookkeeper of my record company.
- Robin Batteau and me from 4-5:15 Eastern; at 5:30 Robin & I co-host Hillary Rollins' annual House Party open mic - both free -- many confirmed performers already -- a one night songwriters' festival
- What better way to prepare for the debate? Will be showing 4BB vids and Robin Batteau's brand new one, too - LIVE!
- Robin was live at the Greenwich Village Folk Festival; friends watching him joined him -- what a result --
- The other three performers are Reggie Harris, Siobhan O'Brien, and Marc Douglas Berardo
- Going to the P.O. on Monday at 4 PM to mail out 25 that are going out free with purchase of my new album -- last chance for swag --
- Meet Don White, Megon McDonough, Elizabeth Mosier, Peg Espinola, and Janet Feld -- all doing what they do best
- Celebrating the release of my brand new album, 'ON MY WAY TO HOOTERVILLE' followed by Song-Swap with Surprise Guests on Friday night
- Sing and/or play along with Robin Batteau around 9 PM when he does his classic, "Guinevere" - let me know if you want the sheet music
- Believe me, this is so good, it's worth the asylum I am now living in to send it to you -- Alice Howe's version of "A Case Of You" is worth it alone!
- I chalk it up to working non-stop on my new album (deadline is Friday Noon) -- here's highlights of the Midnight Zoom After Party with Andrew Ratshin, Matt Price, Alice Howe & Freebo
- I was joined by Andrew Ratshin, Matt Price, and Alice Howe & Freebo -- plus a former Jeopardy! champion for smart fun