Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 54

My Three Songs with Christine Lavin

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 54 – My Three Songs with Christine Lavin  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 54. This is the 44th in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest. Christine Lavin is an award-winning singer-songwriter with over 30 albums in her discography. You may know her from comical/satirical tunes, and many romantic-themed songs, over the past 40 years. Christine is a gifted storyteller and we had a blast listening to and discussing three meaningful songs for her, including “It Was a Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra.

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Three Songs

  1. Secret Gardens – Judy Collins (1973)
  2. It Was a Very Good Year – Frank Sinatra (1965)
  3. Breakfast – Jane Godfrey (2019)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California, it's Aaron's Radio Show, with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 54. Welcome to My Three Songs, where I play three special songs chosen by my guest, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today my guest is Christine Lavin. Christine is an award-winning singer-songwriter with over 30 albums going back to 1981 and as recent as 2020. You may know her through her catalogue of songs that alternate between comedy and emotional reflections on romance. Or you may know her as a member of the folk artist quartet, Four Bitchin' Babes, which she founded in 1990. Now of my 41 interview so far, she is my first guest whose main vocation is creating music, and I'm really delighted to have her join me today. And I just learned that she's going to be the emcee at this year's Philly Folk Festival in mid-August. If you have any great insights stories about anyone performing at the festival, Christine wants to know. Welcome to the show, Christine. How are you today?

Christine Lavin:

I'm doing great. I always had a late show last night at Birdland so I slept till two o'clock. So, so I'm good now.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. Thank you for making some time today to be on the show. Christine, as you know, a previous guest, Gary Zenker included song of yours in his list. I understand he wrote you about the show. And you decided to be a guest yourself. So can you tell me like what inspired you to be a guest?

Christine Lavin:

Well, he sent me a link to the show the day that it was airing. And I thought, Oh, this is interesting. And when I heard that he picked a song of mine, but also a song by Buddy Holly. And then Harry Chapin, who are two of my absolute favorite performers. I felt so honored. That's why I thought Oh, I'd love to do this too. I'd love to tell Aaron what my favorite three songs are.

Aaron Gobler:

And and you are not one who is short on talking about songs and being inspired by other songs and writing about people who write songs. So this must have just really clicked with you.

Christine Lavin:

Oh, yeah. Over the years, I've done 10 compilations that showcase the, the songs by singer-songwriters, whose work I really admire greatly. And so but this gives me an opportunity to, to like, you know, just narrow all that down to three. And to tell ... it was so interesting listening to you, and, and Gary talking because it's like you were, you're both like dads with kids who happen to love music, and I just, I want to be in on this conversation.

Aaron Gobler:

That's great. I appreciate that perspective. I really try to make some kind of personal connection with my guests, and have it really be a conversation and discussion. And some guests really click with me, Gary being one of them, about our level of passion about music, and we can definitely geek-out about about certain things like Buddy Holly. So that was a lot of fun.

Christine Lavin:

Yeah, you know, and I just got to watch "The Buddy Holly Story", just very recently was on TV, with Gary Busey. And it was, it was so great to see it. And I remembered how was a huge deal in his career. But then his career, it didn't sustain itself. I know what he was great in that movie.

Aaron Gobler:

I'll have to check that out. Because I'm aware of it. But I've never actually seen it.

Christine Lavin:

Never seen it?? Oh. You should have date night with your wife. And you should watch it.

Aaron Gobler:

There we go. I mean, I know how it ends, right. I'm sorry. That's kind of dark.

Christine Lavin:

But that was one of the weird things that really connected me to that episode you did with Gary Zenker. Because when in 1975 ... when I first started performing professionally, I filled-in for a guy who walked off his contract and I got a phone call from this agent who said to me "can you be in Clear Lake Iowa in three days?" And I had to go look at a map and see we're Clear Lake Iowa was ... and Clear Lake Iowa also rang a bell to me, so I went to the library and looked it up. And sure enough, it was the last ... it was where Buddy Holly I think he did his last show there or his plane crashed there. But Clear Lake, Iowa is very much associated with the end of his life, and that's where I started my professional career. I wasn't sure whether that was a good sign or a bad sign. But I tried to take it as a good sign.

Aaron Gobler:

So Christine, before we get started with your song list, there's a question I asked every guest. For you, I think I know the answer. But the question I ask is like, how does music fit into your life, but I want to put a twist on that I figured like music is nearly all you think about. I may be wrong, but like, what do you do to take your mind off of your musical world? And or, like, how does music change your world for you?

Christine Lavin:

Oh, boy, I do think of music all the time. And because I live in New York, and now I'm actually living within walking distance of Broadway theaters. When I'm not working on my own songs, or, or my own concerts, I go to Broadway shows. And some of them I've gone to over and over as I study them, and what what makes these shows, click, I saw "South Pacific" 28 times, I saw the very first preview some of the very final final matinee on a Sunday. I saw it 26 times in between. And so my favorite show though, is called "The Drowsy Chaperone". I saw that 68 times on Broadway. And I saw four road companies too. I considered "The Drowsy Chaperone" to be the most perfect musical ever written. So if there's anybody listening, who's doing you know, like community theater, it's the perfect, perfect show. So when I'm when I'm not taking in my own music, I'm, I'm studying other people's. I am totally obsessed.

Aaron Gobler:

And do you think you'd ever be called up as an understudy? Since you know like the show so well?

Christine Lavin:

Wow, there is a scene, they were going to make a movie of it, okay, and they have this scene where the poor bride goes crazy. And she starts screaming about monkeys, "Where's my little monkey? Where's my monkey!?", and they have symbol-playing monkeys! And I asked, I became friends with Lisa Lambert, who's co author of the music. And I asked her that when they make the movie, can I be a symbo-playing monkey in that scene? And she said, Oh, wow. But I think it'll happen eventually. I may be too old to play the simple playing monkey, when that happens. But I'm hoping I'm hoping!

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, well, we you know, we can always keep these things in our minds and put positive energy out to the universe for you that that happens for you. And if all our listeners do that, maybe maybe you'll hear you'll get a phone call for doing that. So that's really that's really cool to be so close to you know, Broadway, like that going to Broadway show is like a real novelty for, for most people when you think about how many people would be interested in seeing lots of shows on Broadway. So that's really remarkable that you can that you can do that. I was thinking I don't know what show I ... for me it probably be like, I don't know, um, "Book of Mormon" or "Spamelot", or something that I probably could see multiple times. But that's that's really cool. The seeing some shows so many times. That's kind of great. Or just having all that at your at your doorstep. almost literally, right?

Christine Lavin:

Yeah! And I live in a building and top performers. There's a girl down the hall, who's in "Tina Turner, the Musical."

Aaron Gobler:

Okay, so Christine, let's jump into your songs. The songs you chose were "Secret Gardens of the Heart" by Judy Collins from 1973. "It Was a Very Good Year" by Frank Sinatra from 1965. And a song simply called "Breakfast" by Jane Godfrey from 2019. So Christine, I'm eager for us both to listen to these songs, and I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. First, let's listen to your first song, "Secret Gardens" by Judy Collins.

Aaron Gobler.:

Christine, this is really a beautiful song. And I saw it as a poetic testament to how we can always revisit people in places in our minds, even though there's people in places no longer exist. And I'm eager to know what inspired you to include the song on your list?

Christine Lavin:

Well, it was on an album called "True Stories and Other Dreams" that came out in 1973. And I was in college and 1973 I was an RA in a dorm. And I had my own room and I had a window with a window seat that faced west. And my favorite thing to do when I lived in that room was to put on this song by Judy Collins and watch the sun go down and and drinking a mug of hot tea. I just find the song just so beautiful. It's also a testament to how great it is to be an ageing songwriter, you have so much more material to draw from, you know that from you look back at your young years and you'll look at yourself as an adult. But the other thing about the song that really really gets me is the use of an orchestra with folk music. And there's very few instances I feel where an orchestra and a singer songwriter or folk singer-songwriter meshes so completely. And in that song they do. One of the ... I'll give you two examples that also do it for an entire album. One is Gordon Lightfoot's record, "If You Could Read My Mind". And it ... a guy named Nick DeCaro did all the string arrangements and that and it's a very, I think it's just a quartet they use on that record. And there's not a false note on the whole entire album. And a contemporary guy who does it. His name is Declan O'Rourke. He's from Ireland, and oh my God, he has got a song called, "We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea". And there is a video online of Declan O'Rourke, singing that with the Irish National Orchestra, which is, like, looks like there's maybe 70 members. It's a huge orchestra. [ Check out Declan's video here -- www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqlbnxEQo9M .] And it's an amazing song. And it's so lush and full and so interesting, what they do. But I have to say that Judy Collins back in 1973, with "Secret Gardens of the Heart", to me, it's the most perfect use of an orchestra with a singer-songwriter. And now I gotta tell you a true story about this song. Back in the 1990s, there's a radio man named Bob Sherman. He's just about to turn 90 years old, and he's on WFUV in New York City. He does a show called "Woody's Children". And he considers so many of the folk singers, singer-songwriters of today to be children of Woody Guthrie. But back in the 1990s, he was on WQXR, which is the radio station of the New York Times ... he was still doing is what his children show. But 95% of the station, played classical music. So he had all kinds of interesting people that he knew. And he liked to have these dinner parties and I got invited to one. And he lives up in Ossining, New York. So I took the Metro North train up to Ossining, and went to his house and there was this very boisterous party at a big table. The table was so big that you got to meet the people sitting around you, but you didn't get to meet the people at the other end of the table. That's how big the table was. So he told me that he knew of a musician who would be driving back to New York City after the party and I could get a ride so I wouldn't have to take the train back to New York. So when the party is over, we all say goodbye. I meet this musician, and he's driving back to New York. And I think there was a couple other people in the car with us, but I don't remember I was sitting in the passenger seat. And he was driving. And so I said to him, I said, "By the way, what's your name?" And he says, My name is Abba Bogin". And I thought, oh, that's an interesting name. And I said, "Are you a musician?" And he said, "Well, I'm a orchestra conductor and an orchestra and string arranger." And so he was one of Bob Sherman's classical friends. And I said, "you know, my favorite thing in music, is when classical music and singer- songwriters join forces." It doesn't happen all that often because it's so expensive to get a whole orchestra who can really afford it. But I said to him, "Have you ever heard, there's a song by Judy Collins called "Secret Gardens of the Heart? To me, it's the most perfect use of an orchestra with a singer-songwriter!" And he was so startled, he slammed on the brakes, and our car slid into a ditch. And he turns to me and he said, "That was me! That was me! I wrote that arrangement ... I conducted it ... that was me! I thought, What are the odds I would ever mentioned this song to the guy who was responsible for it. And he was so shocked, drove into a ditch. But luckily, we were in a ditch in such a way that he you know, he had, like, put the car in low, low gear, and slowly, slowly we worked our way out of the ditch and he drove back home, and I never saw him again. But how about that I met the guy responsible for that absolutely gorgeous arrangement around Judy Collins' song. [ Check out a bonus video, made by Christine, here -- vimeo.com/203732576 .]

Aaron Gobler:

It does give you faith about the universe working in unique ways like that. Right? Yeah. Maybe it's not a coincidence. You meeting Abba Bogin? Maybe it was destined to happen that way.

Christine Lavin:

Yeah. And I've never been to another dinner party at Bob Sherman's house. That's only one. Yeah. And that's the guy who gave me a ride home. So that was that was just an absolute thrill for me. And whenever I hear that song, I still get all teary, because it's just so beautiful. So gorgeous.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow, that's a great story. Yeah, it's kind of mind-blowing. It just makes automatically for such a great story.

Christine Lavin:

Especially because we drove into a ditch!

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, well, I mean, it would have been a whole different thing if you had like, had to wait overnight for someone to find you or something that would be much darker.

Christine Lavin:

And this was more than than 20 or 25 years after he had done it. So. You know, I love meeting ... you know, I once met the actor Paul Dooley, who is in one of my favorite favorite movies. The one about "Breaking Away", the bicycle movie. Remember that movie. And there was a scene where, where the young ... where Dennis Christopher, the he's the the young blond guy who thinks he's Italian is singing to the college girl up in her window. And it's it's cut back and forth between Paul Dooley and Barbara Barrie who plays his wife, you know, sort of wooing her his wife. And at one point, Barbara Barrie takes a flower out of her hair. And then he takes the pen-protector out of his pocket. And he does it as a grand gesture, which I always thought was so funny. And so when I met Paul Dooley, I said, "I gotta tell you something ... you do one of the funniest things I've ever seen in the movie, when you take that pen protector out of your pocket, he goes, "Oh, my God. That was me. I came up with that!!!" He said, "No one has ever mentioned that ever in my life!!" I said, "Oh, believe me, everybody. They love that scene if they haven't mentioned it, it's only because they didn't realize you came up with it." It's great to meet the the creators of things that we end up loving for our whole lives.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, I think it also speaks to generosity of spirit, that you wish to share these such positive and impactful things for you with others, so that they can share in it too. And that what a reward to actually find out that it meant so much to the other person, like the person who you said, you know, who had been 25 years, since they had done that orchestration, and probably just blew their mind and like, you know, rocked their world. And they probably then talked about that story for the rest of their life.

Christine Lavin:

Oh, I hope so.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, we underestimate how powerful you know, certain remarks that we think are just kind of like something it's important to us. But it's not necessarily interesting to somebody else how that could be like these like, "oh my gosh" moments for others. Thank you for sharing that. Let's jump to your next song, which is a song by Frank Sinatra. It's one of his huge hits ... "It Was a Very Good Year", and it was recorded in 1965. Let's give that a listen. And we'll talk about it on the other side.

Aaron Gobler.:

Christine, I grew up in the 70s in Philadelphia, and Sinatra music was inescapable, like one radio station had "Fridays with Frank" and then also on that same station "Sundays with Sinatra". I even ate at one of his hangouts in Hoboken in the 90s, where the jukebox only had his songs on it.

Christine Lavin:

Wow, a jukebox with just Sinatra songs. That would be like heaven for me.

Aaron Gobler:

He had so many memorable songs. So like, what inspired you to include this song on your list?

Christine Lavin:

Well, I think it's the most perfect song ever written. It's the rhyme scheme is so interesting. It's so simple. The kind of writing that I love the most is not the kind of writing that I do, because I use a lot a lot of words. My songs are ridiculously wordy sometimes. But I love when they've they're boiled down to their essence. And I feel like that's, that's the kind of song that I wish that I could write and I probably never will. But I, but that is my gold standard. And can I tell you a story about this?

Aaron Gobler:

Yes. Please.

Christine Lavin:

Well, I was at an event this is maybe around 1999 or 1998, called "Monday Night Madness." And it was this variety show that was hosted by a woman named Angela LaGreca, who was the warm-up comedian on the TV show "The View", which is still a running show, but she's no longer part of it. And she at one point was pointing out people in the crowd who were, you know, celebrities. And that's always fun when you're in the audience to find out who else is there. And she pointed out, Ervin Drake, and she said, he's the author of "It Was a Very Good Year", I was like, oh my God, that's my favorite song. That's a gold standard of music. He's in the audience, I must talk to him. But of course, I didn't know I was gonna do this. And I had had like, two Cosmos. I was, I still drink Cosmos, you know, "Sex and the City" had such an effect on us. But that's the only effect it's had on me. But anyway, I found him in the crowd. I like work my way through the crowd, like a, like a salmon swimming upstream. And I found him ... and I said, "Mr. Drake, Mr. Drake, I love your song so much that I actually have a song where I mentioned how much I love your song!!!!" And it was clear that I was a little tipsy. And he was like, get away from me. Get away from me, you drunk girl. I mean, he wouldn't talk to me because I was I was being such a gushing fool and idiot. So the next day, I tried to find his phone number. This is back in the day when we still had, you know, the Manhattan phone books. Because I was told by the editor of I think American Songwriter magazine, that even though he didn't live in Manhattan, he was listed in the Manhattan phonebook. And sure enough, I found his address in Great Neck. And so I sent him ... I have a song called "Another New York Afternoon." That is about a deli owner who played nothing but Sinatra music the week that that Frank died. And so I sent him that album to his Great Neck address. And I wrote on the outside of the package, "Listen to track ten". That's where ... and I told him exactly where in the song I mentioned, "It Was a Very Good Year." So he, he got it. And he listened to it and he realized, Oh, she's a real songwriter. And she really loves my song. So he contacted me and we became really good friends. He recorded on two of my albums. But what the reason I bring up Ervin is because Sinatra told Ervin how he found his song. And, and to me, this is another story that brings radio hosts into focus because it's if you guys who love music so much, who play this stuff, you never know who's listening and whose life you're going to change. So what happened was Ervin Drake was asked to write a solo song for Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio. They were very hot at the time. And he needed a solo song. And so, Ervin took out his little book that he always had and you said ... a man reflects back in his life in terms of wine ... possible title "It Was a Very Good Year". So he sat down and in 20 minutes, 20 minutes!!!, he wrote that song and the next morning, Bobby Shane came in and Ervin sang it to him, but Ervin had his back to him because the pianos in the little offices were up against the wall. And Ervin didn't think he liked the song. And the guy who is with Bobby said, no, no, no, he likes it. He's gonna record it. So a couple years later, Frank Sinatra is working on his album, "The September of My Years", and he's driving from Los Angeles to Rancho Mirage. And Frank told this story to Ervin, Ervin told it to me, and I'm telling it to you!

Aaron Gobler:

Okay, okay.

Christine Lavin:

He's driving along. And the song comes on by the Kingston Trio. And Frank is listening. And he's getting goosebumps. And he's thinking, Oh, my God, this would be perfect for the "September of My Years." Who is this? He didn't hear you know who the group was or anything. So he starts looking for an exit off the highway. And he goes off an exit, and then he sees a diner. So he parked his car, he runs into the diner, and he says, "Can I use your phone?" And of course, the diner is going to bedlam. Frank Sinatra just ran in here, asking to use the phone. And so Frank calls the radio station and the radio DJ says, "Oh, my God, is this who I think it is??" "Yeah, yeah. It's Frank Sinatra. Tell me who did that song about, you know, in terms of vintage wine, it was very good. Yeah. Who was that?" And the DJ looks and says it was the Kingston Trio. He goes, "Yeah, but who is the writer?" Sow, the DJ looks and he says "Ervin Drake.". So Frank writes down The Kingston Trio ... Ervin Drake ... gets back in his car ... diner all calms down ... and he finds that song and he includes it on "The September of My Years." Gordon Jenkins wrote that amazing arrangement. And for people who really like to do things interesting if you take the the Kingston Trio recording and play it back-to-back with Frank's they are in the exact same key. And it's the exact same arrangement song except with Kingston Trio, it's one guy singing, one guy playing guitar, one guy whistling, and then it goes into that amazing arrangement by Frank, and there's a recording I once heard on Jonathan Schwartz's radio show, where he played Frank doing "It Was a Very Good Year" live very early on in the life of that recording. And Frank says, "Here's a folk song for you kids!", because, you know, Frank was always trying to stay hip and he was always trying all kinds of new things, some successful some not. He thought Ervin Drake was one of the Kingston Trio. And that's why he's he figured it was a folk song. But then he became friends with Ervin, and Ervin spent many, many hours clubbing with Frank and, and he has another great story about Frank. I just have to tell you, Frank came into New York. This is years later ... the song's a huge hit, won all these Grammys and everything. And he's good friends with with Ervin. So he says "Ervin, come on over to the hotel. Yeah, we'll go out clubbing and we'll have some fun!" So, Ervin shows up. And then Frank says, "You know what, first thing I got to do, before we go out ... gotta get my shoes shined. Because Frank, you know, he grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey, and he was a poor kid. And for men of a certain age and certain era, having their shoes shined and looking really bright and sharp. That meant a lot to them. So they go down there in the lobby, and there's a young African-American kid there at the shoe shine. So Frank sits down, and Frank says to the kid, "Kid, I want you to give me the best shoe shine you've ever given anybody in your life. And I mean it!" And the kid says, "Okay, Mr. Sinatra". So he starts working on Sinatra shoes, nice, shining them up, and he just does the great job. So Frank looks at his shoes. At the end of that he goes, "Kid, this is the best shoe shine I ever got. Tell me? What's the biggest tip you have ever gotten?" So the kid thinks really seriously ... and he goes "$100". So Frank said,"oh, yeah??", and he counts out $200, gives it to the kid and says "here ya go, kid!" The kid goes "Wow, thank you Mr. Sinatra!!". So Ervin Drake and Frank Sinatra start walking toward the front door of the hotel. And then Frank turns around, he says, "Kid, by the way, who gave you that $100 tip that I just doubled?" And he said "You did, Mr Sinatra!" So it's so great to know Frank was a great tipper. And, and when when he performed and your songwriters were in the audience, he made such a big deal about them, he always picked up the tab, he had them stand and wave, and songwriters loved him for it.

Aaron Gobler:

It's always so wonderful, remarkable, when creators try to build up and support other creators as opposed to really trying to compete with them. And it sounds like that's what he was, he just had such an admiration for for people who were so creative and, and did excellent work, that he would identify them and try to, you know, shine light on them instead of just trying to take up all the light.

Christine Lavin:

Yeah, you know, Frank really, I mean, he understood that he was born with this amazing voice, but he was not a songwriter. And so he really went out of his way for songwriters whose work he really loved. And, and he appreciated them deeply. And he was also very, very interested in a promoter of integration of, of orchestras and bands because there was a lot of times where were the the Black musicians you know, how do you separate entrances and things like that? At hotels and clubs and Frank would not allow that not on his watch. So he was he was a good man... he was a complicated man, let's face it, you know, but I still I still love that recording so much and you got to play it back-to-back one day with with the the Kingston Trio and you'll just, you just have to imagine Frank's driving from LA to Rancho Mirage and hears it on the radio and, and then everything that follows.

Aaron Gobler:

He drove off an exit not into a ditch, but he has one of those like "aha" moments, right? Well, thank you for that story that put a big smile on my face. And I honestly thought you were gonna say that after he got the best shoe shine he was going to ask the shoe shine to give Irvin just not as good a shoe shine so that his shoe shine look better. That's where I thought this was gonna go. That's where I thought it was going.

Christine Lavin:

Well, I'm glad it didn't go there. Oh, Aaron ... there's one more thing I have to tell you about the song. "It Was a Very Good Year." There's a wonderful singer in LA named Tierney Sutton. And one day, Ervin was out in LA and he bumps into her and she says to him, "Are you the guy who wrote 'It Was a Very Good Year'?" And he said, very proudly "Yes! I am!" And she said, "You bastard!" He goes, "Why? Why is there a problem?" And she said to him that she's over 35. And his song went from when I was 17, to when I was 21, two hours, 35 to a now the days are short, she said, "Look, buddy, I'm over 35 and I don't think I should be getting ready for the autumn of my life, you got to write some new verses." So believe it or not, Ervin did first he wrote one that started out "When I was 52." And here he is sing it in his own voice

Ervin Drake (recording):

When I was 52, it was a very good year. It was a very good year for traveling the globe on supersonic wing, seeing everything, as a worldwide view, when I was 52. [ Check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=op8dZHlMyrk for more! ]

Christine Lavin:

But then another couple years went by and he realized that he should write even another verse. So he wrote this one which starts "When I was 89." [ Check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=op8dZHlMyrk for more! ]

Ervin Drake (recording):

When I was 89, it was a very good year. It was a very good gear for living the life of one constant fling, Sinatra's "Ring-a-Ding-Ding", Jack Daniels instead of red wine, when I was 89.

Christine Lavin:

Thing is, no one has ever recorded those two verses, because he never did anything official with it. Except he sang it at my book publishing event back in, in 2011. at Barnes and Noble in Manhattan, but I just love the fact that he at the end of his life, he lived to be 95. And he realized that yeah, life doesn't end at 35. I'm so glad now that I'm seventy years old, I'm so glad that that there's verses reflecting the lives of older people. And I think Frank Sinatra would have loved that.

Aaron Gobler:

Yes, and it's understandable that he didn't want to change the song. But I wonder if he did ponder ... you know, why it ended at 35? Yeah.

Christine Lavin:

You know what? Frank never heard those two extra verses. Because Ervin didn't ... He wrote it, it was just like a year or two before Frank died. And Ervin didn't play it for him. So he did. He never knew that there were more, but maybe some adventurous singer who's as adventurous as you are, Aaron, with your love of songs, will make those new verses an official part of the song. We can only hope. I love the "89" verse where he says "Jack Daniels instead of red wine."

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. And just like, like you mentioned much earlier, just just the style of the verse. It's just very unique. The way it starts and ends and it's not , justs, you know, rhyme after rhyme or something. It's got a very interesting pattern. It's very poetic, and very poignant. Yeah, it's like you said it's kind of condensed. You noted that your songs are robust in the word department ...

Christine Lavin:

(Laughing) That's a nice way of putting it!

Aaron Gobler:

... and that and this was much more economical, like maybe they were being charged by the word or something. So so he took out all the unnecessary words, you know.

Christine Lavin:

By the way, for any songwriters who might be listening. Ervin Drake was really good friends with Johnny Mercer who wrote "Accentuate the Positive." I think he wrote "Moon River." I'm not sure, but ... Johnny Mercer started as a great, great songwriter and Johnny Mercer said to Ervin Drake, Ervin Drake said to me, and I'm telling you, Aaron, and any songwriter who's listening ... if your song does not rhyme, exactly, it's because you're not finished working on it! And that will get so many songwriters upset. Who rhyme words like time and mine. We all do it. We've all done it, but I can actually look at my songs and know if I wrote them before I knew Ervin, or after I knew Ervin, because after Ervin, I would never use half-rhymes or assonant rhymes, as he called them. And it's it's, it's the gold standard, you know it's songwriting is a craft. And if you don't have your songs rhyme exactly, it's like leaving threads hanging off a dress that you made or leaving or not sanding down furniture that you built. You want it to be perfect. So set that as a gold standard.

Aaron Gobler:

Christine, the last on your list is "Breakfast", by Jane Godfrey from 2019. And I want to thank you so much for adding this song to your list because it was so fun to listen to. And it just it just a wonderful, wonderful story in the song. So without further ado, let's let's enjoy "Breakfast" by Jane Godfrey.

Aaron Gobler.:

Christine, I thanked you before for including the song, and I want to thank you again. I'm so glad I was introduced to it. And if for what it's worth, I had a previous guest that included the Three Stooges theme as one of his three songs. So this definitely is a real poignant, meaningful experience, someone who actually got to meet them. That's incredible. What did you choose to include the song on your list?

Christine Lavin:

Well, when I first heard it, it was sent to me by another radio guy named John Weingart, who does a show from Princeton, New Jersey called "Music You Can't Hear on the Radio." And he just ... when he heard it, he kind of knew I was gonna like it. And he sent it to me, and I just flipped over it. The thing is, it's Jane Godfrey singing it, she wrote it, she sang it. But it's her husband's experience. She made it a homemade video for it. And the very beginning it says for John, and that's the name of her husband. And I grew up in an all boys military school. And so I was very familiar with the whole military thing, and how how gruff, military men could be, you know, even with their families. And it was just so sweet to hear this story. And one of the things I love about the song, because it just could have ended with the chorus. But the little tag ending she puts on it, she sings "he was gruff and unfiltered, and did himself in two packet day cigarette. But he had his ways to show me he cared. And that helps when it comes to regrets." And the song leaves you off in a whole different place. And I think anyone listening to it will probably think of their own father, and in ways that he disappoints, because fathers always have things that they will disappoint their children, but that in ways that they really came through. And it's just such a wonderful thing that he did. And it seems so out-of-character. And such a wonderful memory to have. And then for his wife to set it to music, I just think is the most wonderful thing.

Aaron Gobler:

As you're saying that, you know, being a dad, part of what's expected out of you, I felt is you should be stoic, and be focused, and not be too emotional. And sometimes you don't know how to communicate with your kids about how you feel about them or that you know, love them in a different way that a mother's love is and a father's love can be very different. And that there definitely was a side, the father sounds like he really wanted to show his love and appreciation. And this seemed like such a strong way of doing that and obviously touched his son.

Christine Lavin:

Yet, there's a lot of women who don't get the Three Stooges. And I think in some ways, I'm one of I don't, I don't like violence or you know, physical humor. But, but when you hear that song, and you realize, Wow, this was a real connecting point for a father and son. So maybe I should rethink my attitude towards the Three Stooges. Maybe I should watch them more and catch on to what, what men find so funny here.

Aaron Gobler:

There's probably research papers about that. It's a good question, because I don't think it was. I wasn't a huge fan of them. But I always enjoyed watching it. I think I just enjoyed the comedic timing and I was probably too young also to appreciate that in order to pull off a lot of that stuff, you had to really be good at what you're doing, and really be convincing and not just looking like a doofus. They've ... all three of them were from Vaudeville, and were all comics on their own before they started In the Three Stooges, so they look very convincing as, as kind of like idiots, but it's all a craft. So if you look at it as a craft ... yeah.

Christine Lavin:

Yeah. And also, because when I met Jane and her husband, John, when they were in New York, last year, it was so sweet, because he said that the Three Stooges kept emphasizing, "Don't do this, don't do this. Because it, you really can hurt someone if you try to poke them in the eye with your fingers!" And so they had a lot of explaining to do when they do live events.

Aaron Gobler:

This is also a great example, this song, of telling a story through song, but the song also being not just the person's voice singing, but the choice of the instrumentation. So we got like a mandolin and a clarinet. Those are the ones I hear. And the clarinet seems to be kind of more of a light hearted comedic kind of sound, I think maybe of a Woody Allen, using his clarinet in his movies and such. And then the mandolin seems to be perfect accompaniment for storytelling, it just seems like there's just enough instruments in it.

Christine Lavin:

Yeah, I think they spent a lot of time getting it just right, because also the tempo changes are so great when they sing the different sections of the song. So there's a lot of skill that went into that. Jane Godfrey is someone who is really not well known outside of her little community, or well, she's lived in in Missouri. And I think that she should have a much bigger following. Her website is JaneGodfreyMusic.com. And if you visit it, make sure you click on the video that she made, it looks like an old fashioned television set, cover shot. And, and she made it herself. So it also it fits perfectly with the music and the whole sentiment too.

Aaron Gobler.:

I really enjoyed the video, it definitely adds even more to the song if that's possible. [ Check out the video for "Breakfast" here -- www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWNy2RbmKF0 ]

Christine Lavin:

It's because it's so different when somebody like Lady Gaga makes a video. And of course, she has big directors and producers and, and it's somebody else's vision. But the video is also Jane's and John's vision. And it's got some nice pictures of John's dad in it ... she will be so thrilled. I can't wait to tell her about this!

Aaron Gobler:

Thank you again for for including that. And I mentioned before I generally don't go and seek out music. So this is like a little adventure for me when I see songs on someone's list that I don't know. And then I get to explore them. So so thank you for that.

Christine Lavin:

Well, thank you for being so adventurous, Aaron.

Aaron Gobler:

So yeah, this was that was a lot of fun to listen to. Is there anything else, Christine that you'd like to share about your selections, things that maybe you thought about while we were listening to the songs or maybe answers to questions I didn't ask you?

Christine Lavin:

Gosh, I'm trying to I think you did a very good job. asked all the right questions. I hope my answers made sense!

Aaron Gobler:

That's awesome. You know, I want to thank you. This was a lot of fun. And it was such a delight getting to talk with you. And you are the most famous person that I've interviewed so far.

Christine Lavin:

Well, you need to get out more! That's all I can say.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah.

Christine Lavin:

Maybe some of your listeners could suggest to they would really like to hear from and then we can find out if if I have a connection ...

Aaron Gobler:

That would be awesome.

Christine Lavin:

Yeah.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, thank you again, Christine, for your time today. I really appreciate you putting together that list. And I want to say to my listeners. If you want to be part of the show, start by going to our website, Aaron's Radio dot show, and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for our mailing list, so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's Radio Show on your favorite podcast service, but the podcast episodes only include interviews and no licensed music.

Aaron Gobler.:

Before we wrap-up this episode, I wanted to let you know of an experimental format we have for the radio show called Dedications. If you're familiar with Casey Kasem's Top 40 show he would read a dedication written by one listener with hopes that it would reach the ears of another listener, and then he would play the song. I'm hoping to recapture some of that magic. So I'm asking you, if you have a dedication you'd like to make to somebody. Please go to Aaron's Radio dot show slash dedications to submit yours. Once I receive a few I'll begin making episodes based on those dedications.

Aaron Gobler:

So until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

Female voice:

You're listening to Aaron's Radio Show.

Read Christine's TImeline and Links (click to open)
Aaron’s Radio Show – Episode #54
Aaron Gobler interviews Christine Lavin who chooses her three most memorable, meaningful songs:
“Secret Gardens” by Judy Collins
“It Was A Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra
“Breakfast” by Jane Godfrey
Link:
https://aaronsradio.show/episode-54/

(Also below are four links to
videos Christine mentions during the broadcast)

1:43 Christine will MC at the Philly Folk Festival in August
Aaron and Christine chat
6:30 The Drowsy Chaperone shout-out
7:22 Lisa Lambert, co-author of “Drowsy” shout-out
Aaron and Christine chat
9:05 “Secret Gardens” by Judy Collins
14:28 chat about “Secret Gardens” use of orchestra

(Video Christine mentions)
16:28 Declan O’Rourke shout-out
“We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea” Declan O’Rourke
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqlbnxEQo9M

17:22 Bob Sherman shout-out
18:55 Abba Bogin shout-out
Bob Sherman mentioned again near the end, around 20:48
21:36 Paul Dooley story
22:02 Barbara Barrie shout-out

23:43 “It Was A Very Good Year” Frank Sinatra
song ends 28:15
Aaron & Christine chat about this song
29:20 How I met Ervin Drake, the songwriter
32:00 Another (but anonymous) radio host plays an important part in connecting Frank Sinatra with this iconic song
32:25 Kingston Trio shout-out
36:00 shoeshine story about Frank Sinatra
38:58 “Not on my watch,” said Frank

40:00 Tierney Sutton story — Ervin writes two more verses for his iconic song “52” and “89”

(Video Christine mentions)
“It Was A Very Good Year” (with new verses) Ervin Drake
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op8dZHlMyrk

43:53 Songwriting advice from Johnny Mercer to Ervin Drake to Christine Lavin to Aaron Gobler to you

45:08 “Breakfast” by Jane Godfrey 51:13 song ends
Aaron & Christine chat about the song
51:45 John Weingart shout-out
Jane’s husband’s experience – tag ending makes all the difference – leaves you off in a whole different place – Aaron talks about Dads – instrumentation — mandolin/clarinet — tempo changes — Jane lives is Missouri – janegodfreymusic.com — her video for this song has a cover of an old-fashioned TV

(Here’s the video Christine and Aaron talk about)
“Breakfast” by Jane Godfrey
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWNy2RbmKF0

Bonus video (made by Christine)
“Secret Gardens” by Judy Collins
https://vimeo.com/203732576

Thanks for listening!
1:00:49 end of broadcast
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