Montreal, 1997. Lullaby Baxter is waiting tables at Jello Bar. Coaxed on stage for an impromptu number, she sings Billie Holiday’s signature song “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)”. This, her first public performance since grade school, brings down the house.
She buys a green guitar and learns “Leaving On A Jet Plane”. Someone at the laundromat says, “Anyway, try writing songs.” So, she and friend Lutwidge Sedgwick write songs. For example, “The Anyway Song”.
Before long Lullaby Baxter is putting on shows around town. Bewitched studio owner Howard Bilerman runs backstage and offers to record a demo free of charge. Baxter’s jazz-singer sister Anna-Lisa meets with Atlantic Records staff producer Yves Beauvais (Madeline Peyroux, Olu Dara) and hands over said demo. Beauvais flies to Montreal, catches Baxter’s show, and offers her a recording contract on the spot.
Baxter flies to San Francisco and records her debut with Tom Waits’s session players Oranj Symphonette. Atlantic Records releases Baxter’s debut album, Capable Egg, in 2000. Critics are effervescent.
There is a far-flung tour, all manner of interviews, and money for plush new towels. When the clamour winds down, Baxter scratches her head and says, “J’ai vu tomber tant de choses que j’avais crues éternelles” (I have seen the fall of so many things that I had thought eternal).
Time to disappear. Time to meet a painter (Jean-Pierre Morin) and bear a son (Lorenzo Wolfgang). Time to mother. Time to take the towels out of the dryer. Time to hum. Time to think about a new album. Time to write a 111-page manifesto entitled Sing Songs for People. Time to work on new material with Lutwidge Sedgwick. Time to hire obscure pop duo Hercules to produce this new material into something splendiferous.
Time to fire Hercules.
Time to shamefacedly re-hire Hercules. Time to fold time fondly forward. Time to thoroughly re-work every track. Time to line up various guest musicians, including drummer Jeffrey Clemens(G. Love & Special Sauce) and vocalist Susan Cowsill (of legendary troupe The Cowsills).
Time for unorthodox — why not say it? — Herculean recording techniques. Time for a flute quartet, a flugelhorn, a Wurlitzer, a Mellotron. Time for theorems, mirrors and domes. Time for Vienna, Tokyo and Rome. Time to open up the archives (Satie, McCartney, Morricone).
Time for the hum and ping of fate…the clang and bang of wait.
Time to sew you into the lining of my coat. Time to break your cardboard heart. Time to squirrel the day away, okay?
Time to hatch that Capable Egg.
Time now, for Garden Cities of To-morrow.