The Bellevue Years
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Christine Lavin's impact on contemporary folk music is immense. Recently, dozens of artists paid homage to her with the 2-CD tribute Big League Babe. It is appropriate, therefore, that some of her earliest material is now available on compact disc. Originally released as a six-song LP entitled Husbands and Wives on Palindrome Records in 1983, the album was rereleased in 1987 as Another Woman's Man by Rounder Records, with the addition of If I Could Be Sonja Henie. Now, a full-length CD with the seven studio songs, five live-on-the-radio songs, radio interview segments, and one track by Lavin's Atavistics (Isn't This Just Like Empty-Vee?), The Bellevue Years chronicles this early period of Lavin's career when she was still working her day job at Bellevue Hospital. Reportedly written during an affair with a married man, the themes of relationship stability and permanence run through the studio tracks. If You Want Space, Go to Utah is one of the most concise musical statements to put a relationship on the line: "If you want space, go to Utah. If you want time, hell, you got the next 50 years. But if you want love, hey, hey, look no further, than the woman that is looking at you here." Lavin explores the downfall of being the other woman in The Danger: "I feel the danger, you feel it too. What becomes of women like me, who fall for men like you."
Live radio interviews with Lavin and her sister are included on Music/Sports Notes 1984, although perhaps a little irrelevant for most listeners' tastes. The Atavistics song, a rant against the video drivel on MTV, includes the line "If God had wanted to listen with your ears, he would not have invented eyes."
Other tracks include Cold Pizza for Breakfast, Camping, Artificial Means, and The Moment Slipped Away, which would appear on her first two full-length LPs Future Fossils and Beau Woes. Two previously unreleased songs are included: the 1987 track I Want to Be the First Folk Singer on the Space Shuttle and the Atavistics track. The Atavistics were Lavin, Gregory Fleeman, Brenna McDonough, Megon McDonough, David Roth, and Josh Joffen. Their parody of 80's synth-pop, big-hair bands that ruled MTV during that time is hilarious. Despite the age of these recordings, the songs still remain fresh, showing the artist at a crucial, early period in her career.
Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz