Quick Q and A with Christine Lavin

Christine Lavin is one of the most remarkable people in the music scene.  Not only is she a clever and compelling songwriter; she’s also an extreme entertainer who brings a whole lot of sunshine into people’s lives.  Christine was one of the leading figures of the “Fast Folk” movement in the 1990s and is a treasured member of the folk community.  She has mentored and encouraged musicians from all over the country. She has bonded with audiences with her interactive stage shows, pre-show knitting circles or nail painting adventures.  Her sense of humor has prevailed and fans know that they will be thoroughly entertained whenever she’s on stage.

For more information about Christine Lavin, go to her website.

Christine will be playing with Don White at the me&thee on Friday, November 2.

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I asked Don White if he could describe you in three words and he couldn’t. Can you describe Don in three words?

blue collar genius

You’ve performed in countless concerts but is there one that stands out as perhaps the most memorable experience ever?

Hmmmm. In 1985 i saw actress Barbara Barrie on a subway car. She played Goldie Hawn’s mom in “Private Benjamin,” and the mother of the boy with blonde hair in ” Breaking aAway,” that wonderful bicycle movie. I always love her work – she is as thoughtful and intelligent an actor as u will ever find. That encounter inspired me to write “The Moment Slipped Away,” which I recorded in 1986,  and performed many, many times.

27 years later- this year, 2012 – my songwriting friend Julie Gold threw me a 60th birthday party, and guess what? She invited Barbara Barrie, too. I brought my guitar and midway thru the party we passed it around. Sally Fingerett of the Four Bitchin’ Babes was there, Neal Shulman of Aztec Two Step – it was so much fun.

When the guitar landed in my hands I stood up and told the story of seeing her on the subway that day, how it inspired a song, and then I sang it to her in Julie Gold’s living room.

I will never forget that moment. Barbara was beaming. It took 27 years, but i finally got to sing it to her.

I made a video for that song, using photos of Barbara, Paul Dooley (her husband in “Breaking Away,”) and others. I can’t remember if it’s on youtube or vimeo, and it’s the long version, which includes a 9/11 story. If u google “The Moment Slipped Away” u should be able to find it.

What’s your favorite song these days?

My favorite song right now is “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg. This summer I got stuck in an airport (I’m in one right now but not stuck, changing planes) – that day this summer it was a hundred degrees, I was sleep deprived and cranky. For whatever reason that song started playing in my head.

I have always loved it and now it wouldn’t leave me alone. Because I had time to kill, I looked up online the lyrics and the chords, took out my guitar and started noodling around.

The original key didn’t work for me, so I experimented til I found a key that worked in an unusual way – the verses sung high, but the chorus sung low, the opposite of what Dan did. He played piano on it, I play guitar so I thought ‘what if i change the pronouns and sing this from the woman’s point of view?’

It meant making only a few word changes and I was very careful to make sure I got all the rest of the lyrics exactly right. People LOVE this song, and I was changing it but i better be careful not to make any sloppy mistakes (like on the scratch vocal I sang ‘and as I turned to find my way back home’ when it should have been ‘and as I turned to make my way back home.’ So I fixed that.

I worked on this song all during the month of august – i like songs that start right away, so I cut the opening instrumental, but added one later in the song where i felt the listener needed a space to absorb the story.  I started thinking about who i could envision playing on the song and called violinist Robin Batteau and asked him to be part of it. I also called Brian Bauers, a producer who also sings and plays. I asked him to produce and to sing, and i called bassist Steve Doyle to anchor the song.  I had this whole arrangement in my head, but had no idea if it would actually work.

We went into the recording studio in early September to lay down basic tracks.  It’s not an easy song for me to sing so i had three different sessions just to record my parts. Robin was a breeze, Steve Doyle nailed it quickly, and I did my guitar parts.

The night before our third or fourth session on this song I went to bed and woke up with a start. I had played part of the guitar part wrong. I immediately went back and listened to Dan’s original, and sure enough, my guitar chart was wrong. Somehow it came to me in a dream!

I had to redo my guitar, then redo the bass, redo Robin, redo Brian’s vocals. Ka ching. This is now a very expensive project.

After finally all the parts were done, we started mixing. We actually went through 27 different mixes! Halfway thru mixing i got an idea for an additional harmony part, so back into the studio I went.

I think we finally finished six weeks after we started. I will send it to you so can make it available as a free download. It’s going on this year’ Hudson Harding Holiday Sampler Vol 7. As my friend Megon McDonough says, “the Irish are only happy when they’re sad.”  This (hopefully) will make a lot of people happy. And  I’m working on a video for the song that contains a surprise at the end that should make Dan Fogelberg fans smile.

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