A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tunesday 9: Christine Lavin, Attainable Love

Christine Lavin, Attainable Love

If you have never been introduced to the work of the amazingly talented singer songwriter Christine Lavin, poor you, we are here to rectify this situation. Christine is one of the leading artists in the genre known as modern folk, and this album is from 1990 or so. Even though that was an eternity ago, before Hilary Clinton was anything other than the first lady of Arkansas, Lavin's work stands up well here. "Victim/Volunteer" is a song that contains a metaphor I have used many times in critiquing our culture's well-established tendency to excuse any sort of egregious behavior based on mean things that have happened to you in the past.

Lavin has written some beautiful songs in her career, like "Castlemaine" and "Yonder Blue," which are particular favorites of mine from this album. But she is especially renowned for her ability to observe situations with a sharp wit, which ranges from either gently mocking to biting satire. A brief little gem is "Fly on a Plane," which just goes to show that Ms. Lavin absorbed a love of ironic endings somewhere in her early life. Then there's the completely unique "Shopping Cart of Love: The Play," which is a musical play about a clash with an unsympathetic grocery cashier, solipsism, references to "American Pie," and ends with the last laugh for our intrepid heroine as she deals with being dumped by her roommate and her fiance.

Probably one of her funniest songs ever is this one: Sensitive New Age Guys. Enjoy!

And just to show how some people sit around and combine really weird things on YouTube, and sometimes it works, here's this little bonus piece: Christine singing her classic "Regretting What I Said..." animated with clips from the Nickelodeon cartoon Jimmy Neutron.

And if you get the chance, go catch a show of hers live. She may even teach you to knit at intermission, or you'll get to watch her twirl florescent batons. I was lucky enough to see her with one of the incarnations of the Four Bitchin' Babes, a quartet of folk babes that Lavin originated years ago from the New York folk scene.


And if you have a science teacher you love, consider buying a copy of the book "Amoeba Hop," which is an illustrated kids' book about amoebas that is just priceless. I have a signed copy that my kids just loved.

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At 3/27/09, 11:59 PM, Blogger Ahistoricality said...

I adore Lavin. She's got the greatest topical range -- even in a genre like singer/songwriter where anything can be a song -- of anyone I can think of outside of Tom Paxton, and an absolutely brilliant sense of timing.

At 3/30/09, 4:22 PM, Blogger ~Tim said...

Wow. Someone had way too much time on their hands to make the Jimmy Neutron video, but I love it!

You should check out Uncle Bonsai (http://unclebonsai.com/) -- they have a similar folk vibe and a wicked sense of humor.


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