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Robin Lane: From Chartbusters to Dirt Roads and Beyond

Robin Lane: From Chartbusters to Dirt Roads and Beyond

Robin Lane: From Chartbusters to Dirt Roads and Beyond

Robin Lane is best known for her time spent within the ranks of the late 70s-early 80s Warner Brothers-signed band Robin Lane and The Chartbusters – whose hit single “When Things Go Wrong” became the 11th music video played by MTV on its first broadcast day in 1981.  Robin has also worked with the likes of the legendary Neil Young, where she sang with the much-revered vocalist on “Round and Round (It Won’t Be Long)” from his 1969 album Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.  And now in this current time, Robin Lane is a solo artist who has just released five songs from her Dirt Road To Heaven album as a sampler EP available on the Boston based singer / songwriter’s Bandcamp pageHighwire Daze recently had the honor to interview Robin Lane to discuss her brilliant career in music – from Chart Busters to Dirt Roads and well beyond!  Read on…

Is there any overall story or concept behind the Dirt Road To Heaven album and EP title and song?
No I had no conceptual thought behind the songs on the album. That being said, for the most part they do go nicely together because I wrote them at a certain time in my life where I was pretty much saying whatever I wanted to say in a song and not really thinking of the outcome or who will like them or how they will be perceived. The next album will really be a zinger with some real kook stuff like “Why” Why do we have 2 eyes…and so on. \

When you’re alive for a long time and have been doing music for a long time, such as I have, with some success in the past and now just carrying on because songs, singing, writing is life to me, there may be a concept there? A theme of sorts, a life. With a string of songs such as these they are from the perspective of a woman (me) who is still living a life because or in spite of everything, one must carry on. Do you do that all bitter or crest fallen or mad at things because some of your dreams didn’t catapult you out of the ordinary? No…you keep going with what you’ve got and rejoice that these things have given you the ability to see the beauty in it all…the good, the bad and the ugly and you use it all to create and create and create…”Art is a guarantee of sanity“, said Louise Bourgeois.

What is the inspiration behind the song Woman Like That?
That woman was a fan, then I befriended her, and she followed me here and there and made my life miserable, but she was pregnant the same time I was and I had no other women friends who had a baby. She may be bi-polar but when I think about her now, I feel bad for her as I think she had a lot of trauma in her life. I had to write a song about her. Actually, there are a few more verses. I had to laugh about the relationship. My daughter thinks the song is mean and I suppose it is.

Select any other song from the five song EP and what inspired the lyrics.
Dirt Road To Heaven…Kind of like the end of the world song, that’s how I see it. I was a Christian and now I can’t stand them. Doesn’t mean Jesus wasn’t someone to follow and love but for me, I was never good with following the rules the Christians came up with, and they seemed so hypocritical and now certainly they have given Jesus a bad rap. If I’m going to heaven it’s via a dirt road not a golden easy path where nothing hurts you. Jesus was on a dirt road. Dirt is important anyway. It’s overlooked if you live in the city. I’ve been on a dirt road my whole life.

When you look back on your time with Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
I think it was one of the happiest times in my life, maybe the happiest, except for now. I was riding a wave and I loved the guys in my band, they gave me security. I’ve always been insecure, but I wasn’t with them. A lot of love there but I had a manager who just kind of threw us out into the big bad world and it was very hard to be the focus point and have to answer questions like these that I was way too ignorant to answer. All my answers were in the songs, so I was rather inept, and it took a toll, plus I had a boyfriend in the band that was abusive to me. But…it was an incredible time of breathing that rarefied air that lifts you up out of an ordinary life when you ride the wave of rock’n’roll success. Then I got pregnant and the whole thing was over. In those days, to be a woman in rock and roll, being pregnant with a baby defied the myth of the persona of what a woman in rock was supposed to be. Just wasn’t done. So, the end of us and me for a while. It was so much fun but hard too and I didn’t understand the music business game.

“When Things Go Wrong” became the 11th music video played by MTV on its first broadcast day in 1981. What was that experience like, and did you get to see it live when it first aired?
Didn’t get to see it in Boston. When we were on the road, we saw it in other cities that had MTV. I was disappointed in the video as I didn’t think it was “cool” but now when I see it, it was pretty awesome. At the time I didn’t realize how important videos were or what MTV, was going to become? Who did? Also, I wasn’t a very good actor. I am better now as an actor in videos…or anything. More secure now I think????

Tell me about working with Neil Young and do you still keep in touch with him?
When I first met Neil he taught me that song Round and Round, we sang it together. Then when he got together with The Rockets, Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molin and they went into studio to make Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, he thought I should sing on it. So Danny and Neil and I sat around with a couple mics on vocals and guitars and played the song. It was recorded by the second take. I was very surprised that he didn’t want to go over and over the song. It was so fast. Love that album and Neil and that time period but who knew how important it would be?

Tell me about Songbird Sings and working with trauma survivors and what inspired you to create that organization?
I was walking down the street in a little town out here in Western MA when I came upon a writer’s workshop. They asked me to teach them how to write a song and so I ran my first group and a bunch of awesome truth telling songs came out of that. Then someone told me to start a nonprofit so that I could run workshops, and no one would have to pay. Since I saw the outcome of how the songwriting and singing, telling their stories was affecting everyone, I thought, hey I’ve stumbled upon something that is really needed in the vast community of people who do not have a way to get out of their depression, trauma, all things that were holding them back from joy. Everybody needs to tell their story, especially the forgotten voices.

Songbird Sings songwriting workshops create a safe space where your wounded sides can be heard. Through creative collaboration, songwriting and singing, survivors come to trust that they are so much more than what has happened to them. We build community connection validation and a powerful healing musical journey for anyone who has suffered from PTSD’s, violence of all kinds. All songs are recorded and the participants leave with a CD to forever be a reminder of who they truly are and what they have done. So our workshops are inspiring participants to come out of isolation and heal as they learn to find their own voice and how to use it. It’s so important to be able to tell your story and have people listen … there’s not enough listening going on in our dear world…too much talk that doesn’t say much.

Would you like to tour in support of Dirt Road To Heaven?
Oh yes…I would love to have the support to be able to play all over America at least, if not some other countries. That takes a lot of support and I’m just here in ole Shelburne Falls foothills of the Berkshires and the tour bus isn’t outside waiting to whisk me away. If you have any ideas for this and for me and for my awesome band (I’m not the only one who thinks this) please get in touch with me.

What’s up next for you?
I have a bunch of new songs that I hope to record and release. Some really good songs. I love being in love with my own songs. I hope that doesn’t sound too weird, vain and narcissistic, but it’s important to love yourself and what you are able to do in this world. We really need to use our gifts, even if they don’t put you on top of the world stage or the ant heap. Just for your own well-being and that’s what I’ll continue to do, and maybe even more people will be able to listen. Would love to have more gigs. I have a great band and we should be opening for some major acts.

Any final words of wisdom?
Yes…be an artist, use your creativity, it’s the only way to remain sane in a totally insane world. There is only one you in all the world and if you don’t use your gifts they will be lost forever. Don’t worry about being great. Be creative (gardening, cooking, music, singing, writing, painting) do it for its own sake, for Arts sake…you don’t have to be great or even good…do it to find your joy and love it love it love it…love who you are.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Robin Lane on Facebook
Songbird Sings Official Home Page
Robin Lane Bandcamp Page

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