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The Changer and the Changed

Cris Williamson

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Album Review

More than simply the best-selling album on the stalwart Olivia Records label and a classic of the "women's music" subgenre, Cris Williamson's The Changer and the Changed is a brilliant '70s singer/songwriter album. The simple but rich arrangements set Williamson's glorious voice and piano against strings, flute, and Jacqueline Robbins' jazz-inflected fretless bass, giving the album a timeless sound and putting the focus entirely on the songs and Williamson's elegantly passionate performance of them. All ten songs are sublime, though the opening "Waterfall," featuring some sterling Fender Rhodes work by Williamson, and the solo piano ballad "One of the Light" are the clear highlights. The album was remixed slightly and reissued in a slightly revised cover in 1977; this version is the one available on CD, but the differences between it and the original mix are minor.

Customer Reviews

Cris is the changer and we are gratefully changed.

There are three albums essential to every young lesbian’s music collection: Alix Dobkin and Kay Gardner’s “Lavender Jane Loves Women”, Meg Christian’s “I Know You Know”, and this one, Cris Williamson’s “The Changer and the Changed”. Thanks to my mother and a farm full of women in Athol, NY, in 1974, I had the benefit of hearing these albums at the ripe old age of nine and I was forever changed. These albums didn’t make me what I am today, they made finding out what I am easier. Cris Williamson’s songs were the soundtrack to my formative years: they were hymns, love songs, letting go songs, and healing songs. "Song of the Soul" was added to the hymnals in the church I attended as a youth; it may still be there today. "Sweet Woman" became the anthem to one of my first crushes; and over 30 years and several relationships later, whenever I hear it, I am reminded of my admiration and adoration for this special woman and how her love and friendship changed my life. "Sweet Woman" defined passion and desire for me as Cris sang “the warmth surrounding me just won’t let me be.” When we returned to New England after two years in California, "Shooting Star’s" rhythmic drums and piano made me impatient for the three day Greyhound trip to be over. I was “crossing the desert” to get home to my friend and I couldn’t get home soon enough. At 17 when I realized that, no matter how much I tried, this woman would remain unattainable; "Wild Things" was my mentor and allowed me to let her go – not loving her less, just realizing that I couldn’t mold her into my fantasy. "Having Been Touched (Tender Lady)" and "Sister" are to me forever linked together and I have used them in healing and affirmation ceremonies for women: the former, a prayer for comfort to the woman in the center of the circle as she envisioned her body emptying of its emotional pains; the latter, a song of celebration as she envisioned receiving strength and love from the women surrounding her. The album is best experienced as a whole as it takes you on an emotional journey through love, loss, healing and spiritual awakening. I’m sure that as you listen to it, you too will be reminded of the special women in your life and the deeply emotional experiences that changed you. Other albums may have been produced since the 1970’s that are just as meaningful to the lesbian community, such as Melissa Etheridge’s self-titled premier album, and kd lang’s "Ingénue", but it was only because pioneers like Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, and the women of Lavender Jane defied commercial music producers and created candid, affirming music about the love shared by women. Thank you Cris and iTunes for finally making this music more accessible. One request, the “Carnegie” album, please.

Just excellent

Not just for lesbians, for everybody. Straights of both genders enjoy the great writing, life affirming message and plain good songs. "Waterfall", "Sister" and "Song of the Soul" are all classic folk anthems. A passionate and lovely album.

A powerful, gifted artist

As a gay man newly out in the late 1970s, Cris Williamson's music deeply touched, moved, and inspired me. Listening to it now, nearly 30 years later, I again acknowledge it to be the work of a gifted musician and singer. Her voice, lyrics, and instrumentation are all timeless, elegant in composition and performance, and the music is intensely personal and spiritual to many lesbians and gays. Here's a big hug to sister Cris and all of the fabulous lesbian folksingers!

Biography

Born: 1947 in Deadwood, SD

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Just as baseball historians can only speculate about how players in the old Negro leagues would have fared in the absence of segregation in the major leagues prior to the arrival of Jackie Robinson in 1947, so music historians may ponder what status Cris Williamson might have assumed if she had emerged at a time when admitted homosexuals were not subject to exclusion from major record labels. By the 1990s, openly gay women artists Melissa Etheridge, Indigo Girls, and k.d. lang were able to...
Full Bio
The Changer and the Changed, Cris Williamson
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