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Christine Lavin (with Electric Bonsai) - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
steve98052
steve98052
Christine Lavin (with Electric Bonsai)

Date: 18 Jan 90 08:54:08 GMT

I just got back from seeing Christine Lavin at the Backstage in Seattle. She did a great show. I had only heard of her a couple of times before, once on a public radio show somewhere on the east coast, possibly on the radio in Minnesota when I lived there, and this week on a good commercial radio station (believe it or not) here. Since first hearing "I Want to Be a Mysterious Woman" and a few other songs way back when, I've been looking for some sort of recording. What luck that I not only find a place to buy a recording (at the show), but I get to see her live too!

Anyway, the show was up to my expectations. Unfortunately the listing in the local music rag didn't mention that she had a warm-up band (which others at the show said was also great – Electric Bonsai, which is an ex-member of Uncle Bonsai), so I missed the warm-up completely. Additional bad news was that I hadn't brought my checkbook or enough money to buy everything she had up for sale during the break in her show. Fortunately the friend I went with had enough that I could borrow so I could buy her CD Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind. It's on Rounder Records.

Anyway, considering how much trouble I had finding her recordings (I still haven't seen them in any stores), I suppose she must be obscure enough that even most of a group so musically enlightened as [people on this mailing list] probably haven't heard of her. The quickest way to describe her is "Suzanne Vega with a sense of humor" (according to my friend, who has seen SV live, she has a great sense of humor at her live shows, but her recordings are pretty serious). She plays in a folky style, mostly songs about romance with an ironic sense of humor. She also reminds me of Laurie Anderson, with her unusual way of looking at ordinary things, though she doesn't do any electronic vocal distortions or play anything but acoustic guitar (there is a very small amount of electronics in the CD, which I didn't notice until I read the credits). Like most of the musicians discussed here though, she's hard to put in a category with others, but I tried anyway.

One of the most memorable songs she played tonight was a ballad that she started to conceive in an autobiographical mood (as is much if not all of her material). The real life situation that she told of in introducing the song was about a time when she worked in a large building on a lower floor, and a guy she occasionally saw and thought was cute worked in an upper floor. In the song, she exagerrated to tell of a woman who worked in the basement and the dreamed-about man who worked on the thirty-seventh floor (that number fit the meter of the song just right).
*** WARNING! SPOILER AHEAD ***
She dreamed about him and tried to do things to give herself a better chance to see him, until finally a time came when there was a fire in the building.
*** SPOILER HERE ***
She ran out, and he jumped to escape the flames, and by miraculous chance landed on her. They both died and were buried together forever. It ended with a very happy beat and tone. The meter and rhyme of the words all flowed beautifully.

Steve [real last name, which people shared back then]
steve@sensual.wa.com
I should be mapped. If mail bounces, try "nwnexus!sensual!steve" instead.

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