Saturday, February 5, 2011

Laurie Anderson ... Most you will know this...


but if you dont, learn it now. Its just something you should have in your creative repertoire... I know those of you in the know will roll your eyes and say DUH, but not everyone went to art school. She was the honorary graduate at CalArts the year before I graduated. She did her speech with a little computerized voice box thing INSIDE OF her mouth so she sounded like a robot. It was rad. I like that she completely UNPLAYS, not even down plays, her looks. When you see the close up you can see she COULD be painted beautifully, but chooses not to, which is refreshing. This song is major and almost ... ALMOST makes me get teary eyed, ALMOST.. its so haunting and although its completely processed there is something DEEPLY human about it. Its very lonely. It some how taps into that feeling of being an observer of life, barely a participant. They talk about this song being about nuclear war etc etc, I have to say the MOM reference in the song for me was quite literal, its funny how intellectually you can separate the need to be held but biologically it is a proven need. I always think I have such total control of myself and knowledge of my needs and wants and reason why I do anything, even the unconscious, but its funny I hear something like this and I just go "Ugh... I miss my mom."
The song grasps that feeling of being on the outside looking in. For me it somehow places me in my backyard as a kid, being alone and just taking everything in, that feeling like you were JUST PLACED on Earth although youre like 5 years old. Like you JUST came into consciousness even though youve been there for years, so there is all this nature and people and objects around you that you recognize but somehow youre aware that although all these things are familiar and all of them seem to be operating in harmony, you feel somehow removed from it all, but youre going to go along with it because because its the only option..... Thats how i felt at least, sometimes, and this song taps into that feeling.

9 comments:

Jim said...

It's been YEARS since I've seen that clip. At the time, it was the epitome of all that was cool and new wave and the pinnacle of performance art.
A LOT of folks used parts of the track for their answering machines, too :)

Joel said...

Great piece. Of course my fave living composer is Philip Glass so the music beneath the words really appeals. Just the sort of tune/atune I can listen to all day.

Tom said...

That was great. I remember her and her song being around and a presence in the culture but it took 20 years and House of Vader to finally see/hear it! Thanks David!

wavingpalms said...

*Almost* makes you teary-eyed? For me, it's at the moment 'your petrochemical arms..' And then the coda that wraps it up just so completely catches the sadness...

I was a little kid, not more than six or so, and I was in the doctor's office with my mom... this was issued as a flexi-disc bound into an issue of ARTFORUM, believe it or not.

I stole it.

Took it home, played it on my little beige Fisher-Price turntable... and it became to my little mind something that was privately *mine*.

Craig said...

David, you talk about some pretty amazing things in this entry. Have you ever read or heard Knoxville, Summer 1915 by James Agee? It's very different fromO Superman but Knoxville, at its heart, is about a childhood memory/epiphany similar to what you talk about. Anyway, I'm a huge music nerd and this piece of music just levels me - especially since losing both of my parents three years ago. Both Dawn Upshaw and Leontyne Price have made fantastic recordings of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1I1WMCX0rU

Here is the relevant passage:

"On the rough wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts. We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there.…They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet, of nothing in particular, of nothing at all in particular, of nothing at all. The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near. All my people are larger bodies than mine,...with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night. May God bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away.

"After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am. "

Kurt Walters said...

When I brought 'Big Science' home, and played the title track with its intro howl, my Dad thought I had turned yet another corner towards insanity. He forewarned my Mom upon her return home that Kurt "really lost it this time"... She heard it, and was instantly entranced...

Her particular favorites were the 2 final tracks on side 2. Let x=x, etc... since her recent passing I haven't been able to play them yet.. just that opening synth note, would cause her to sigh, and I"m not sure what I would do if I heard it now.

youreviltwin said...

ok, maybe i'm just not from new york enough or something, but i LOVE laurie anderson but the only four people in the world that know who she is other than myself is my best friend rob, and two brazilians who i will not badmouth because holy shit they're crazy (the one i dated, not the other one who is a total sweetheart). big science is THE SHIT.

youreviltwin said...

OH MY GOD, and i forgot, when i used to do crystal and i'd ask for drugs or a cigarette in kind of an intentionally imbalanced way, like low level bullying but sort of wierdly charming (at least to my spun out head) i'd just hold out my hand and smile a crazy smile and grin and eye contact a little too hard and i'd say "this is the hand that takes." and i'd get my cigarette or pipe or whatever.

Gareth said...

I'm 44 and have a son of my own now, but I still dread the world without my mom. And part of it is that consciousness thing you're talking about. I always get excited about things that make me less of a distanced observer. My mom always helped me do that. I think one of the reasons I stopped working for art museums is because the awareness of being on the outside of a work of art sort of kills me a little.