But she has influenced me here and there my entire adult life. And on top of it all, she married Lou Reed. Are you kidding me? I was so happy thinking they had each other. Lou passed just a few years back, I’m sorry to say.
So this blog is just a shout out to her. I first saw Laurie Anderson in 1979 featured within a some video projected for four hundred students in the Willey Hall amphitheater on the U of M West Bank. Not the most intimate meeting, but her five minutes where the only thing I remember from that freshman semester. She performed on a violin which played a human voice as she drew the bow back and forth. The violin was fitted with a playhead and the bow held magnetic tape, different bows had different voices saying different things. In my mind, this effect and her demeanor placed her in an outer stratospheric level of cool and creativity. A year later a friend came back from London with the #2 single there, a wildly amazing synthesized song by Laurie, ‘O, Superman‘. And two years later she released an album I listened to endlessly, ‘Big Science’.
At dinner with a friend two nights ago I found myself quoting a koan from that very album:
It was a large room. Full of people. All kinds. And they had all arrived at the same building at more or less the same time. And they were all free. And they were all asking themselves the same question: What is behind that curtain?
You were born. And so you’re free. So happy birthday.
So yesterday morning I went YouTubing, wanting to view things she’s done and to see if I still was aware of what she is all about after these years. I ended up immersed in her world and want to share this clip which captures her approachable, infectious energy. Notably, as I perused Laurie from decade to decade I found even though technology has changed drastically over this time, she was there. How curious to be so timeless while working with furiously changing technology. 26 years ago she was producing stage pieces that seem cutting edge as though done last week. Amazing.
She remains wildly prolific, staging concerts and video installations around the globe. She has a new album, Homeland. But I must mention that to me the best of her recent work is a concert she did at the Sydney Opera House for dogs. The following is an article from CBCnews covering the event:
The concert was originally billed as a performance for dogs’ ears only, and was going to be largely limited to electronic noises played at a frequency too high for human ears. But Anderson changed things up when she decided she wanted people to have some fun, too.
“We didn’t want to do something that humans couldn’t hear,” she said. “We brought the octaves down into our hearing range so we could all have the experience.”
Anderson, who is 67 now, said the crowd was one of the best-behaved she’s ever played for, and considered the whole event a howling success.
“That was the most amazing concert I’ve ever, ever gotten to give!” she said with a grin. “It’s really a dream.”
Thanks for all this, Laurie. I so appreciate what you give and I had to talk to these people here about you for a bit.
Here’s Laurie’s site: http://laurieanderson.com/projects/