...Capitol-City A&E Zine...

The Work of Laurie Freelove
by Laura Rojo

Laurie Freelove was kind enough to have me over her place so we could talk about her CD, "Songs from the Nineline." We ended up not only taking about the CD, but also about childhood memories, relationships, and all those little things which make life interesting. I started the recorder as I mentioned to her the day I met her almost seven years ago, at the KLBJ studios during the recording of a tribute to John Lennon on what would have been his 50th birthday.

I remember being scared the day we taped "Dear Prudence" at the John Lennon's birthday party. Donny Silverman played the wind synthesizer, a really difficult instrument to convey emotion because is all digital, and it doesn't have any way to modulate the sound since it is not finger sensitive. But he managed to put the feeling there and convey the emotion of the moment

It amazes me to think that it has been such a long time since we met. I remember it as if it was yesterday.

It seems as if in this city, time stands still. At the CD party release show at the Cactus Cafe, there was a group of elderly people who I knew when I worked at community education in 1981. They were part of the neighborhood association, and I taught them art classes. Fifteen years later, they showed up at the back row of the Cactus Cafe because they saw the ad on the newspaper talking about my CD release party, and they decided they wanted to see me. One of the things I like about Austin, is its deep sense of community.

 Govinda and Laurie at Ruta Maya
during SXSW '97

 When did you realize you wanted to become a songwriter/musician?

I always knew I wanted to sing. I wanted to do anything that felt good to do As a child, you see how everything is possible. Everything is wonderful, it can happen, it can be done, and you are everything that you want to be at any given moment. I remember feeling like music is what I was and still am made of. I am made of things at a cellular level, I am made out of the outdoors.

 Did your parents help your
artistic side?

Unfortunately my parents were not terribly supportive. Like most parents, they wanted me to do something where I could support myself, and I wouldn't have to endure hardship. Their non-supportiveness, as I viewed it at the time, was probably from love. They have become more supportive nowadays.

 Laurie at SXSW

They were probably worried about you, like most parents do

In a way, their lack of support made my conviction to continue stronger. It clarified for me that the sensation that I was having was real. Although I did try to get into architectural school once, and unfortunately I got to napping.


Any stories about growing up, meeting somebody that made a difference in your life?

My grandmother made a huge difference. The one I called "nana." She used to take me to see orchestras and brass bands. She took me to museums. She was very concerned that I got out and had some sort of artistic education. I remember going with her to a concert, hearing all the instruments at the beginning of it, and getting very excited.

I also remember that my father used to play "Man of La Mancha" on this old record player – one of those models where the speakers open on each side of it. We sat in front of it, and he would tell me the story of Don Quijote, while I was sitting on his knee. I must have been four or five years old.

Another fond memory has to do with my grandpa, my papa... He had this little ukulele, and I remember going over his place, and wanting to see it, touch it, strum it. All these little vignettes, have no significance on the story telling, but the sensation that they left on me is really strong. When I recall them, I think Britta, the little girl who lives here, feels that way too. I leave my guitars in the living room, and sometimes before she goes to school, she will just sit there, strumming them. And I know the impact that strum is having on her. Her spirit is just absorbing the excitement of it. So I think my childhood was just full of little moments like that.

Even just being outdoors is very poignant. You are outside, listening, categorizing the different places you can be outdoors and what they sound like. Kind of weaving in and out of the natural rhythms created by man and nature, and realizing how different they are and feel, and how they can move you differently

I also have this really fond memory on being in the car with my mom right after The Beatles became popular. They had just been on Ed Sullivan, and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was on the radio. She was driving us to school and all of us were singing it. And that moment was very happy because mom was singing with us, we knew the words, and we thought it was silly that my mom was singing, but she was happy and we were happy.

I know you have lived in many different places. Could you please talk about them?

I was born in Washington D.C.. I was adopted and the family who adopted me moved to Iran when I was still young. I went to school in Italy, drove all over Europe and North Africa until I was about 14, came back to the States, lived in the East coast, went to the University of Maryland and Montgomery College in Tacoma Park. When I graduated, around 1981, I moved to Austin.

My first record deal with "Two Nice Girls" was on an English label, so I moved to England for 2 years. In 1985, I moved back to the States, and tried living in the East coast, but I had become not only an English person but a true Texan. I couldn't stay there. I tried for 6 months. I had family, friends, was familiar with the place, but the tension on the East coast, the intellectual and political rigidity, the racial tension, and the crime made me think "If I don't get out of here, I just might as well blow my head off. I have to leave." So I came back to Austin, spent two weeks here, ran around Town Lake, visited my friends, and decided to stay. And nowadays, no matter how horrendous the traffic is getting in Austin, this is the only place I feel I can heal and live.

 Yes, Austin has that effect on people This is a different kind of place. An Oasis in Texas

I sense that people are trying to work together. It has to do with the feel of the town. Because let's face it, it is just too hot and humid to want to live here just because of the weather. The heat is horrendous, but I don't want to leave. The feeling of the city keeps me here.

I would really love to accumulate enough financially to get a house by the lake to avoid the traffic. I want to have an art studio and a music studio so I am able to spread myself around and do the things I love.

Govinda and Laurie having fun on stage

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Melody is what I am always the most interested in, but if it is not accompanied by something special in terms of undulation and the rhythm, the melody is not quite as interesting to me. I was into Donovan, Simon & Garfunkel and Cat Stevens. I appreciated The Beatles, but I cannot say that anything beyond Abbey Road or The White Album really grabbed my interest. Also Elton John was huge in my life as a young girl... Very strong melodically and lyrically.

The last time I saw you, you were going touring the East Coast.

It was a learning experience. I did some wonderful shows. Almost every single one was packed with a great audience, very receptive to what I was doing. After the gigs had dried up, I started to book myself. I got on the internet with the Folk Venue Guide, where they have profiles of venues, with information about the acts they book. By using this source, I was able to narrow down, for example, radio stations which played women's music, folk music, even the ones which were likely to play 'Two Nice Girls.'

I spent about one month time on the computer, mailing things, writing letters, calling them up. I probably contacted about 500 public radio and smaller stations like KO-OP. By the time the Gaven report had hit the triple A, I had already opened some doors in the East Coast, and radio stations started to play "Songs from the Nineline." It is great when radio DJs call you and say "people are calling about this CD, asking us where to get it, they like it." I think I have created enough of a bedrock where a few of the commercial stations had picked it up, and now the smaller ones are eager to play it. The response has been great.

The tour was good, since I got to play with Shane Madden (Govinda) who by the way has his own beautiful album.. Shane is extremelly talented. Music goes out of us, away and we get into another world, where there is only silence, and we disappear from it. The music grows and we can start playing through each other, do different things, We don't worry whether we play it right or wrong. We always play it right. He is a perfect music companion for me. Gemma (Cochran) (photo at right) is as well. We blend, there is a sympathetic harmony which occurs when we sing. Unfortunately, Gemma didn't go on tour
with us.

The tour allowed me to learn to hear "no" a lot, and not be discouraged about it. Nowadays, I know somebody is going to say yes, and that person is going to tell somebody else to say yes. So I learned at a grass root level, to just go ahead and do it.


It is a hard, harsh business

Everyone is in tune with music, but the pretense is that we are separated musically. For example, in one of the industry tip sheets, they have me under the category MC-17, where no one under 17 admited. The mistake that people in the industry are making is that they don't realize that some of my biggest fans are 13 year old kids who love what I do, for the same reason 60 year old people love it. This kind of information is creating an artificial distance.

The emphasis of the industry, to separate the music is what is creating this illusion. It is not good. You have to be a very strong character to be able to say "I can see that you are trying to manipulate my taste." On the other hand, music has become so accessible from areas from all over the world and parts of history, that what children have access to now is creating a very exciting blend of music and some very interesting groups.

The little girl who lives here, Britta, went to Bali and Indonesia this past Summer for a month. I knew her before she went and when I saw her come back, I saw the enlightment in her being. She suddenly had a deeper awareness on how humanity exists all over this planet, in so many forms, and has meaning to each of us. I think she was suddenly aware of her common humanity.

Music belongs to people. It is like breathing. It shouldn't be up in a pedestal. From where I stand, everybody can do it. It, is energy that you just draw upon and you get to do it. I feel sad for the people who are not in tune with their environment and cannot feel this.

I think your whole life you are being tested, and whether you take those tests and learn something from them, or just dismiss them is what makes the difference as to whether or not you get to the next level of awareness. You need to work on interaction with your parents, relationships, friendships, and interaction with yourself.

You don't have to be exactly in agreement about everything to love somebody. It took me all these years to figure out that about my mother. All I have to do is say "mom, that is great! Oh, that was cool, you did that?" I don't have to do anything more and it allowed me to love her so much. First I had a sense of acomplishment, and then I had this feeling of "Oh my God, I really love my mother! What a great surprise!"

How did you get to be at peace with yourself?

I feel something more assured about what I am. I think that because I was adopted I came into this world not feeling like I belonged to anyone, and
because of it, I belong to everything. Maybe that is true, maybe is not.

I know you have been working on a new song.

Would you like to hear it? It is called "Oh Boy", and I wrote it right after I wrote The Nineline. I think it sort of says everything about being happy, being aware of being in the world without having to say that any one particular thing is driving you towards happiness or giving you a sense of purpose. I think you will like it.

I would love to hear it! (Note from the editor: Laurie was kind enough to allow us to transcribe the lyrics of her song. It is copyrighted, so please read them only for your enjoyment)

 "Oh Boy"

I lit a candle to the flightline
to the circus
I went all over
in your backyard
in the twilight
in the desert

It was so perfect
you were godlike
I was trembling
it was joyful
joyful, oh boy!

So, I held that picture
like a passport in my pocket
travelling tender
I crossed over
on a highway
to the heavens
through the sky
and it was so perfect

I was fearless
I was faceless
I was faithful
I was high
Higher, oh boy
Oh Boy, oh boy, oh......
oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy

Here is the story,
I'm an ocean
no I'm, an avenue
a travelling sailor
on the veil of time
in the heat of sun
in a deeper blue
deeper blue

And it is so perfect
when we meet again
we can say hello
we can say goodbye
say hello
hello, oh boy
Oh, Oh,
oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,

I lit a candle to the circus
to the flightline
I went all over in your backyard
in the twilight
in the desert


We want to thank Laurie for sharing her memories and thoughts with us. We wish her the best of luck, and hope we can see a new release of her work soon.

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