Lisa Germano | ReviewThe Theraputic sounds of music: Lisa Germano works through death, life June/July 2006
It could be said that the singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Lisa Germano has settled in and become comfortable, at least at this point in her life. However, Germano is never too quick to take anything for granted.
"I didn't know if I would make this record. I don't see the music business as a cycle that most people do when they record, release an album then tour," Germano said from her Los Angeles apartment where she resides with two cats Lou, who is "the Hollywood cat" and Vian, named after the French writer Boris Vian.
The record in question, Germano¹s seventh of her solo career, is In the Maybe World. The 12-song record was released on Michael Gria's Young God Records and deals with themes of (well, what else for Germano?) death. The topics are macabre, but not in the traditional sense of the word.
"This record is honoring death and seeing life," Germano explained. "The song "Olden Cities" was written by my cat which died from cancer. We had an amazing friendship and I learned from her that death is not sad. It is just a new beginning. I think I learned also it is worse to fear death then to embrace it."
Born Jan 1, 1958 in Mishawaka, Ind., Germano learned violin as a child and made her professional music debut as John Mellencamp's violinist and fiddle player on his 1987 hit album Lonesome Jubilee. Germano would spend nearly a decade playing with Mellencamp, honing her skills. Over the course of her career, both with a band and as a solo artist, she was in demand and played along side David Bowie, Neil Finn, Iggy Pop, Simple Minds and the Indigo Girls.
"Its amazing these people are wanting me to play for them. But honestly, I don't get overly excited. They are just people like me. You can't relate to them if you treat them like rock stars. They are just people. But sometimes I wonder 'How am I so lucky to meet these people?'"
With her musical confidence blooming, Germano set out on a solo career with her 1991 debut On the Way Down From the Moon Palace, released under the Koch label. Germano moved on to the famed 4AD imprint for her next four records, and she has become a full-fledged solo recording artist.
But, it wasn't easy.
"I've gotten a lot more confident about my voice and about what I am saying," Germano said. "Therapy was a big inspiration for my music. It changed my life! I was agoraphobic and I had to get into therapy just to join John's (Mellencamp) band. Now the songs I write seem to be more realized. I don¹t even know what some of the songs are about until about year later."
Germano has come a long way since her days in Mishawaka. Yet, she has never taken anything for granted or set out with overly high expectations.
"My solo career has been completely unexpected. With each record I don't know if i'll do another one. I just live and write and when the songs seem like they fit together and I strip away what's too personal, I finally have a record. I just hope my music can reach that one person who it can relate to. I don't want to waste anyone's time."
With her new release In the Maybe World the sultry Italian is hardly wasting anyone's time. On the new self-produced record Germano plays violin, piano/keyboards and guitar. The end result is a blend of poetic artistry mixed with haunting and seductive sounds, her vocals almost a whisper. The sound cuts to the bone.
With her previous album, Lullabies for the Liquid Pig, fans were so worried about her well being that they sent bibles, self-help books and compassionate letters. Don't be surprised if the postman rings twice for Germano with more care packages after the fans listen to In the Maybe World.
"I think I'll get the same from fans. By now, they know me. This is a more positive record. I'm trying to help myself with these songs. It is my therapy. But, I am doing alright. I am in a very good place right now. I love this record."
For a while, it wasn't such a good time for Germano, the last year or so she completely gave up on music and got a job managing a bookstore, a job she still holds to this day. She thought there was too much music out there and that there was no place for her, but in fact there is. With the help of Gira, musicians Johnny Marr and Joey Waronker (brother of Anna from That Dog), Germano got back to writing and recording.
"I'm glad I am broke," Germano professed. "I'm glad I work at a bookstore. A lot of my inspiration for my songs comes from there. The music business is so vague and hard I am so honored just to be able to put out a record."