Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Experimental beat poet performance art from Laurie Anderson

I frequent http://www.fark.com. It is a community on which people can submit news items with their own one liner about why the article is interesting and then people comment on the article and the submitter’s take. It’s addictive. Well, a while back, some thread got started about Laurie Anderson. If you’re not familiar with Laurie Anderson, she is a performance artist who plays violins and keyboards and sings weird and evocative lyrics in several experimental styles.

Big Science. Yodel-ay-hee-hoooooo.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about Laurie Anderson in a long time. I bought her 1982 release, “Big Science” on vinyl back in the day and although I think I still have it in a box somewhere I hadn’t listened to it in literally decades. When I read the comments on Fark about Anderson, I remembered how much I loved that album and I picked up another copy.

It was every bit as good as I remember. The music throughout “Big Science” is really cool, but this album is all about the lyrics. I was surprised at how well the album had aged. I thought it was going to be purely a nostalgia trip for me, but I still genuinely enjoyed the disc and I think it still holds up to listens today. Be warned, Anderson is an odd bird, but her fearless creativity is engaging and just plain good. Check out these, which have found a new home on my iPod.

  • From the Air – Speaking of lyrics, this one has some of the funniest on the album. I love the sax on this track as well.
  • Big Science – Anderson seamlessly blends the lyrics with some compelling keyboard work on this track, though, to be honest, after all these years I’m still not entirely sure what this song means.
  • Walking & Falling – A hypnotically slow song about how walking is the repetitive process of falling forward and then catching yourself from falling over and over again.
  • Born, Never Asked – This track is an exception. There are almost no lyrics at all and Anderson’s violin does most of the talking.
  • O Superman – Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. I heard a car commercial in the mid 80s rip off this gimmick. Laurie is riveting as she performs this, similar to how you can’t take your eyes off David Byrne when he does a song. I would like to see a live show.
  • Let X=X – “It’s a sky blue sky.” This one is also quite weird, but I like it, particularly the last minute of this song when the brass kicks in.
  • It Tango – The last track flows right into this one. It’s a great closer. “Isn’t it just like a woman?”

Anderson has worked with some amazing talent. Hers is the soothing voice in Peter Gabriel’s ‘This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)’ from “So.” She worked with new age pioneer Jean Michel Jarre on his weird opus “Zoolook” and on “Metamorphoses.” Her long career has included collaborations with Adrian Belew (King Crimson), Arto Lindsay, William S. Burroughs, Spalding Gray, Brian Eno, Phillip Glass, Bobby McFerrin, and many more. In 2008, she finally married long-time life partner Lou Reed (Velvet Underground).

Anderson is a multi-faceted, multi-talented artist whose genius has been recognized by many. She has done a lot of interesting work over the years but this one remains my favorite of hers because it is so good from beginning to end.

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March 18, 2010 - Posted by | Alternative, Indie, Jazz, New Age

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