Rockin’ through the ages

Rockin’ through the ages

By Chris Brook

Diane Lincoln graduated from Northeastern in 1970 with a degree in pharmacy. After 40 years in the family business, she’s decided to start over and pursue her longtime passion: music.

When Diane Lincoln attended Northeastern in the late ’60s she was able to see rock ‘n’ roll staples Led Zeppelin at the Boston Garden and Simon and Garfunkel’s hushed pop sensibilities at Symphony Hall.

It was around that same time – in between living in Speare Hall and collecting credits for her pharmacy degree – that Lincoln walked down to the now closed Boston Music Company and purchased a nylon string guitar and a chord book and began penning songs of her own.

Nearly 40 years later, Lincoln, 58, who performs and records under the moniker Linq, has recently released her second record “Fast Moving Dream,” a politically-charged and socially-conscious electric folk record that delves into topics like healthcare and homophobia.

After graduating from Northeastern in 1970 with a degree in what at the time was known as Pharmacy and Allied Health, Lincoln moved back to northern central Massachusetts to her hometown of Athol and took over her family’s business, Bruce’s Pharmacy. At Bruce’s, Lincoln soon rose to become the company’s vice president. But as the years went on she grew weary of increasing paperwork and dealing with finicky insurance companies and doctors’ offices.

“We were speared by insurance companies dumping things on us,” Lincoln said of her family’s drugstore. “It made it harder and harder to do my job as a pharmacist.”

Lincoln, who handled everything at Bruce’s from hiring to firing, said the job became nothing but non-stop stress.

Having long played guitar for pleasure, it wasn’t until 2001, following the end of a 21-year relationship, that she got back into playing guitar and songwriting with startling results.

“It surprised and amazed me at what came out,” Lincoln said of her new work.

In 2002, Lincoln played her first live set – three brief acoustic songs at an open mike night in Royalston-and drew comparisons from the crowd to singer-songwriters like Melissa Etheridge, Tracey Chapman and Joni Mitchell. Lincoln, with the help of producer and friend June Millington, cut her first single, the protest song “War Machine,” in 2003.

While recording her debut full length album “Journey,” Lincoln was approached by the CVS pharmacy chain and with her pharmacy life losing its luster, sold her business to the corporation on Nov. 30, 2004 hoping to focus more on music and further bring her sound to the masses.

By releasing both of her records on her own label, Linqsongs Publishing, Lincoln is now doing things on her own terms.

“I’m not looking to be some rock ‘n’ roll star,” Lincoln said. “I’m 58 years old and I just have an urgency to share this [music] with people.”

Nearly all of the songs on “Fast Moving Dream” do just that: reach out to people.

“Irish Lass,” which Linq sings over a Celtic pennywhistle and plaintive guitar, is a tribute to friend Dorothy Haden, who died in 2004 after a long bout of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The song, “Tired,” is a slow-burning dig at the rising costs of healthcare in America. Additionally, one of the disc’s higher points, “Open Hearts, Open Minds,” is aimed at anyone with religious-based homophobia. Sample lyrics include: “Homosexuality is not a sin/ Hey, it’s the skin I’m in/ So get used to it.”

Lincoln, who is also president of the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce, credits Northeastern and Boston for her broadened perspective.

“Coming from a small town to the city was very beneficial to me,” Lincoln said. “Seeing different walks of life and ethnicities helped me learn firsthand that people are people – it helped me really understand that everyone is working together.”

Lincoln, who tours sparingly around central Massachusetts, is already planning to record a few tracks for her as-yet untitled third disc. Lincoln also still runs Bruce’s Browser, a bookstore offshoot of her family’s pharmacy in Athol, which features a caf

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