Meg Christian

I Know You Know

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Meg Christian's I Know You Know is not only the artist's debut album, but also the first album to be released by Olivia Records, which was founded as a national women's recording company, specifically, a recording company intended to serve an audience of lesbian women. Christian's musical sensibility grows out of 1960s folk and pop, a fact reinforced by the opening song, a cover of Rolf Kempf's "Hello Hooray," which Judy Collins sang on her 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Goes. It may not have been written as a feminist anthem, but it is a good introduction to both an artist and a movement, beginning, "Hello, hooray, let the show begin, I'm ready," and continuing, "I've been waiting so long for another song, I've been thinking so long I was the only one." And Christian makes her point explicit by adding a few lyrics of her own: "After all these years of crying, self-denying, and lonely waiting and fears and hesitating, yes, we'll laugh, yes, we'll laugh, and we'll laugh as we see this thing finally, finally, finally begin...." Similarly, Jimmy Webb's "The Hive," a ponderous, seemingly allegorical song introduced by Richard Harris in 1968, is reborn as a depiction of female oppression. But the album's core is found in its romantic woman-to-woman folk-pop ballads, such as Christian's own "Valentine Song" and co-producer Cris Williamson's "Joanna." The arrangements, generally keyed to Christian's classical or steel-string guitar, are very much in the singer/songwriter style of James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. Christian reflects on the difficulties of the struggle in "Scars," and in "Song to My Mama" she finds reason to acknowledge her mother's love while trying to incorporate it into her lifestyle. ("Is something buried in your old widow's mind that blesses my choice of our own kind?") It all seems very serious and earnest until nine songs in, when the scene shifts to the Full Moon Coffeehouse in San Francisco, where Christian reveals her rapport with her audience and her sense of humor on "Ode to a Gym Teacher," providing comic relief from the anguish of the rest of the record, but proving no less groundbreaking.

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