Lisa Germano life and biography

Lisa Germano picture, image, poster

Lisa Germano biography

Date of birth : 1958-06-27
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Mishawaka, Indiana, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-11-16
Credited as : singer-songwriter, Mellencamp's band , Excerpts from a Love Circus

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Lisa Germano is an American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has released seven albums featuring her often-hushed vocal style, confessional lyrics, and distinctive violin.
Although Lisa Germano once attracted attention as the violinist for John Mellencamp on his Lonesome Jubilee and Big Daddy albums, she has since carved out her own place in the music world as the creator of a series of harrowing albums of a stunningly personal nature. Talking online about the strongly autobiographical character of her songs with interviewer Patrick Brennan, Germano observed that "some people who don't get my music or don't like it just say 'It's just so personal. What am I supposed to do? Feel sorry for her?' But, no, that's not it at all. I think that when you write really, really personal things--not always--but your hope is that it reaches a certain thing that everybody feels, becomes a universal thing."

Growing up in a large Italian family in Mishawaka, Indiana, Germano was surrounded by music. Both her parents were musicians as well as music teachers, and an eclectic range of music could often be heard through the rooms and hallways of the Germano home. When Germano was still a youngster, her parents took her to a room filled with instruments and told her to pick one. But choose carefully, they said, for they expected her to study the instrument that she chose until she was 18 years old. Germano later explained that her parents saw musical study not only as a way to give their children an appreciation for music, but also as a path to self-discipline and being comfortable with being alone.

Germano chose the violin, and while she studied and learned to play many classical compositions over the next several years, popular music of the day had a big impact on her as well. "In high school I was still in the beauty-mushy stage," she told Muse magazine. "I loved James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg. I liked the Beatles. My brother would bring stuff like Janis Joplin or Steppenwolf home and we thought that was really cool but I would never go play that by myself." By age sixteen, Germano was playing the fiddle in local bluegrass and rock and roll bands.

Around age 20, Germano was struck by a debilitating bout with depression and quit performing. She spent much of the next few years grappling with the condition, which was based in large measure on "a pretty good self-hatred," she told Brennan. According to Germano, sbsequent therapy sessions helped her enormously. Shortly after returning to performing at local bars, she received a call that dramatically changed her life. "I was just very lucky," she told Muse. "I was playing violin at a country bar and I knew John [Mellencamp]'s drummer, Kenny [Aronoff]. John wanted to put some violin on a song, and I was the only violin player that Kenny knew, so they called me to come and do it. John really liked what I did, I guess, so the next week he asked me to go on tour with him. It was pretty amazing."

Germano's experiences as a member of Mellencamp's band gave her much greater confidence in her musical abilities, but not until she heard the 1985 Kate Bush album Hounds of Love did she decide to take the plunge and embark on a solo recording career. "Hounds of Love I thought was an amazing record," she told Brennan. "It totally inspired me to make my own records. I always had these songs but I never finished them 'cause I thought they were too emotional." But after being bowled over by Bush's passionate album, Germano decided that she had to make a greater effort to present her own material to the world.

Germano's first album, On the Way Down from the Moon Palace (1991) was a self-produced, self-financed album of spectral country-folk that garnered a number of positive reviews. However, it was not until the release of Happiness in 1993 that the music world really began to take notice of Germano's talent. (Displeased with the final version of Happiness that Capitol released, Germano left the label and re-recorded portions of it for 4AD, which released its own version of the album a number of months later.)

Many critics commented on the breathtakingly honest--if darkly mordant--quality of her lyrics. Melody Maker's Dave Simpson, for instance, called Happiness "a voyage into Lisa Germano's psyche, a bleak domain where psychological traumas hang heavy and the artist slowly pulls herself apart."

In 1994 4AD released Germano's third solo album, the harrowing Geek the Girl. The critical consensus was that once again Germano had compiled a string of songs of sometimes unnerving honesty and darkness. Citing such grim songs of human frailty and vulnerability as the title track, "Cancer of Everything," and the chilling "Psychopath," Rolling Stone reviewer Paul Evans called it a "beautiful, wrenching album," and compared Germano's lyrical insights to those of Kurt Cobain and P. J. Harvey. Sarra Manning commented in Melody Maker that "Geek the Girl is a difficult album that pushes the listener away with its truculent tone just as it pulls them closer with whispered secrets. You may think it says nothing about the clear glass of your life but beware! Geek the girl lives in us all."

In the fall of 1996 Germano released Excerpts from a Love Circus. Like its predecessors, this album featured a plethora of songs of self-doubt and hurt, all gliding languidly through a surreal mix of guitar, violin, percussion, and odd sound effects. Some reviewers expressed a desire to see Germano explore new territory in the future, but most felt that Love Circus was a strong work. Writing in Rolling Stone, critic Lorraine Ali said that "Germano makes music so beautifully tragic and depressing that it seems nearly fatal," while the New York Times's Jon Pareles observed that the songs"seem to come from some drafty, echoey place, a sickroom or a haunted attic."

Germano moved to Hollywood, and began working at an independent bookstore. Songwriting, however, remained an integral part of her life, and she kept connected musically by collaborating with other artists, such as Yann Tiersen, David Bowie, Neil Finn, and Joey Waronker, on various projects. She returned to her solo career in 2002 with a flurry of releases. Independently, she released two compilations of songs from her back catalog: Concentrated is a selection of "greatest hits" with a few oddities (such as the Underdog remix of "Lovesick"); Rare, Unusual or Just Bad Songs, however, is composed entirely of rarities (like "Breathe Acrost Texas", which was omitted from the reissue of Happiness) and tracks that had never been available before, and each copy came with an insert painted by Germano herself.

In 2006, Germano was invited by former Swans leader Michael Gira to join the roster of his label, Young God Records. Young God released her sixth solo album, In the Maybe World, in July of that year, and then reissued Lullaby for Liquid Pig in June 2007 with a bonus disc of unreleased live recordings and demos.

Selective Works:
-On the Way Down From the Moon Palace - Major Bill Records, 1991
-Happiness (CD) - Capitol Records, 1993/4AD Records, 1994
-Inconsiderate Bitch (EP) - 4AD, 1994
-Geek the Girl (CD) - 4AD, 1994
-Excerpts From a Love Circus (CD) - 4AD, 1996
-Slush (with OP8) - Thirsty Ear Recordings, 1997
-Slide (CD) - 4AD, 1998
-Concentrated (CD) - self-released, 2002
-Rare, Unusual or Just Bad Songs (CD) - self released, 2002
-Lullaby for Liquid Pig (CD) - Ineffable/ARTISTdirect, 2003
-In the Maybe World (CD) - Young God Records - 2006
-Magic Neighbor (CD) - Young God Records - 2009

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