Music: Birdhouse in my soul |

Music: Birdhouse in my soul

Craven Lovelace
Free Press Music Columnist
Craven Lovelace
Staff Photo |

They met as two young filmmakers in New York City in the mid 1980s, but from the start, it was music which underpinned their romance, their professional career together, and their friendship.

Their first date was at a tiny bar on Avenue A, where they both were a little starstruck when David Johansen of the New York Dolls walked in. She told him of her past, hanging out with Sonic Youth as a friend of the band. The next day, he made her a mixed tape, filled with sly, flirting messages that would have been hard to speak face-to-face, but were communicated simply in song.

Over the next few months, their relationship grew more serious — and yet, never SERIOUS. Laughter came easily to her and, for the first time in a long time, when he was in her company, to him. They made a follow-up date to go see They Might Be Giants, who had just released their first album, and it was the start of a constant concert-going habit. Together, they would eventually see David Bowie, Squeeze, the Shoes, Jonathan Richman, Yo La Tengo, the Church, the Feelies, Debbie Harry, Clem Snide, and many more great acts.

Meanwhile, They Might Be Giants would always hold a special place in their life together. When the band’s major label debut, “Flood,” was released in 1990, they would crank it up in their tiny, West Village apartment and sing along with the band at the top of their lungs:

“Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch,

Who watches over you?

Make a little birdhouse in your soul.”

After they formed a production company together; their first job was providing paintbox graphics to promote a pay-per-view Grateful Dead concert. (She loved the Grateful Dead, and had followed them on tour twice.) Then their fledgling outfit was hired to produce a point-of-purchase display video for then-hot teen idol Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth” perfume. Music continued to percolate through their lives, uncontainable and ebullient.

Even their eventual breakup was accompanied by a gobsmackingly great soundtrack. In 1990, a few months before they split, they went to see Robyn Hitchcock play a solo show at Tramps in support of his album, “Eye.” She was mad at him over something now forgotten, and they bickered at their table waiting for the show to start. It was miserable. But when Hitchcock took the stage, he put on one of the best shows they had ever seen.

Somehow, after she moved out and their romance had ended, they remained fast friends. They would often go see movies together. The last time they did was in 1998, just a few months before she left New York, when they went to see Robyn Hitchcock again — only this time in Jonathan Demme’s concert film, “Storefront Hitchcock,” which had been shot just a few blocks from the apartment they once shared. During the last 15 years, they talked frequently by phone, about life, about love, and often about — what else? — music.


My friend, Carolena Fleishman, died last night. Liver cancer took her from us. The last time we spoke, a few weeks ago, the conversation ended with me telling her: “I’ll talk to you soon.” It wasn’t a lie. I spent all morning today talking to her, and I expect I’ll be talking to her for the rest of my life. She’s gone from my world now — except when I put on They Might Be Giants’ “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” and she is once again throwing back her long, black hair, laughing and singing along forever:

“Not to put too fine a point on it,

Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet.

Make a little birdhouse in your soul.”

Craven Lovelace is the producer of the Notes Blog & Podcast at He also writes about popular culture at the Cravenomena blog: You may find him on Facebook as well.

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