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Christine Lavin: Absolutely Live

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Album Review

The 2000 re-issue of Christine Lavin's 1981 debut album underscored the extraordinary longevity and consistency of her career, which has been one of the most prolific in contemporary folk music. There were a lot of changes in the intervening years. When Lavin recorded Absolutely Live on June 29, 1981, she was still working a full time day job at New York's Bellevue Hospital. She had yet to earn her reputation as a performer, opening the concert with a song centered on the premise that she, "an unknown bumpkin on her unknown guitar," could only win the attention of her audience by feigning terminal illness. She made jokes about the "Save the Whales" movement ("every time they get sick and beach themselves they get a spread in the Daily News"), the engagement of Prince Charles and Lady Di (cut from the re-issue out of concern that Diana's death might make the song seem mean-spirited) and a new McDonalds product called Chicken McNuggets ("sounds like an awfully personal part of the chicken to be eating with your fingers"). But what hasn't changed is Lavin's talent for entertaining audiences with her blend of insightful zaniness and traditional folk in the vein of Pete Seeger or Joni Mitchell. Despite the topical references, Absolutely Live never feels dated. Her songs are universal and timeless in their witty and sensitive exploration of everyday life.


Born: 02 January 1952 in Geneva, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Christine Lavin emerged out of the crowded New York City songwriter scene of the '80s with a style that distinguished her from her peers. First, her songs were overwhelmingly concerned with contemporary romantic mores (that scary, uncertain world of "relationships," "commitments," and "biological clocks"). Second, while her takes on this subject could sometimes be sentimental or even maudlin, more often they were humorous. "If You Need Space, Go to Utah" was the first track on her second recording,...
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Christine Lavin: Absolutely Live, Christine Lavin
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