Aug 31, 2010

You remember Warhol.

"And there's Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes. His time limit for fame, for the spotlight. And so why is it fifteen minutes, and not ten or three? Or a New York minute? And then I remembered - fifteen was a famous number at that time. It was in all the papers: fifteen minutes was the time that took for an ICBM to reach New York City from Moscow. You remember Moscow."
(Laurie Anderson, Happiness Tour, 2003) 

Andy Warhol and Laurie Anderson, 1984
Photo by Ann Clifford

Semi off-topic extra: Lou Reed's 'Pale Blue Eyes' is a part of the soundtrack of Andy Warhol's exclusive 3D exhibition in Budapest (open until tomorrow). Whatever.

Aug 29, 2010

I didn't know what was wrong with...

... Tim Knox's portrait of Laurie Anderson (see the original below the link),

until I

mirrored it horizontally.

Seven Days in the Life (of Laurie Anderson)

Sunday morning light reading: Guardian (UK newspaper) has a show-and-tell made by Laurie Anderson about one week of her life (from sometime around the second half of June 2010). Some spoilers: leftover chocolate bunnies, volitility, two cats on a hot tin roof, a cartoon-shaped green J**p, Lolabelle and a yellow raincoat, and, of course, mermaids.

Aug 28, 2010

Difficult Listening Hour: The Fifth Plague

Time for another pathetic attempt to puzzle out another hard-to-understand* lyrics by Laurie Anderson: The Fifth Plague (Death of Livestock). This cheering, upbeat song can be listened to online at the official website of the album it is included in: The Plague Songs (2006).

The Fifth Plague
(music and lyrics by Laurie Anderson)
(as heard by Mnemosyne)

Beasts of the field we stand
Somewhere between darkness and man
Part of the plan
Part of the proof of the fifth plague

Ah to die in a grove
On a spring day
Tipped over by god
Part of the proof
Part of the plan of the fifth plague

Not the glorious death of the sacred bull
But slaughtered and pitched 'bout rotten junk
into the land of the dead
Where mummified kings and queens wait
in the wrong heaven

Beasts of the field we stand
Somewhere between darkness and man
Part of the plan
Proof of the power of the fifth plague

Like the dying bull in the ring
Stuck by the picadors
The last sound he hears
In this dusty world
The howl of true trumpets
And the sound of applause
As the matador bowes

The Fifth Plague of Egypt / J. M. William Turner, 1800

* For the record again: this version of lyrics is based on Mnemosyne's pure speculation. Please keep my limited auditive comprehension skills in mind when reading the text. (By the way, any help / correction would be deeply appreciated.)

Aug 27, 2010

Meanwhile, in Mrs. Lincoln's Head...

I was nearing the end of my journey.
You're alright now.
There's nothing there.
There's nothing the matter.
There's nothing the matter with his face.
Come with me
in a back country road.

Someone just changed their mind.
Please, never a kiss.
Still living, yeah.
That's it.
I was just leaving.
Have a complicated smile.
One small one.

It was an accident.
Take it or leave it -
Let me out of this.
Watch this.
I told you we could make a good team.

Have I left out anything important?
I'm in a bad way, I'm havin' a relapse.
I'll have another gimlet.

OK. The beach.

Who are you?
You had better speak.
Close the door.

Some suggested pictures danced the night away.

We're late. I didn't hear you.
Just a minute. Think of it.

Hey, killer. Just leave me alone.
My ambition, my emotion must not be mine.
Woof! Woof!
- OK. Of course.
Argh. Arrgghh!

It reminds me of the time when we had that terrible experience.

Yes, stranger.
Hardly perfect.
How come I have bruises?
Children grow up too fast.
You are doing fine.
Reverse, well, well,
I'm cutting out.
Wait a second.
Good night.

I need more time.
- Forget it.
That's the trouble.
Steady - sea - spire - sheets - of - ice.

What about the button?
Which island is it?
I hear a sound.
It must have been a terrible war.
Oh boy... what's that, please?
Do you know what I think?
I hear a sound.
Nothing's wrong.
I'm not mad. Let's put it this way -
Go ahead. Stop running,

I've got it.
Go ahead. I'm nervous - I'm not nervous,
Will you cooperate? Open the door.
I am a volunteer.

How can you say everybody thinks it's my fault?
Do you want to know the real cause?
Let me alone.
Well, wait.

It must have been a terrible war.

Oh boy. Please, please.
We're ruined.
You can't stop anything.

I'm not mad.
Understand, anyway, anyway, anyway
Tell me one thing.
Just change the subject.
Something is going on.

Well, this is the backdoor bell,
Actually, anyway,
I hear a sound.

Go ahead and say something nasty.
I can take it.
Wonderful. Go ahead.
Finish the piece.
Let the murderers begin.

It's a very quiet thing.
Well, it's good to see your things moving again.

There is the bell.
Who is it? Well, that would be nice
Well, that would be fun.
Honestly, please, be patient with me.
Sure, I have the rest of my life.
Good luck, Jim.
You said that there was a quick way out
Yes, Mister Miller,
What is that turn-off sound really?
After all, you've never served officially in a war.
Except one.

I suppose this place really is nice. Do you like it?
I deal with the past now.
Look dead. Would you? Never mind. Please, don't rush.
Snap it up.
I said it might be a mistake.

What was she like? Don't worry about the past... dream.

I was...
There are some things I just will not eat.
Yeah, I'm going away.
Who's to say the eyes are honest?
Don't misunderstand me. I am happy.
Well, I suppose I might just free.
It's good to see here today.
Well, maybe... Don't touch me.
Murder is on his mind, no. No,
I can't
- that's better.
There's no one by my side.
I got caught up by the moon singing.
Well, I'm speechless.

Well, what are laughing at the pain in my left shoulder hunk?
I should be dead.

OK, group.
I need to be alone.
Look, it's human nature.
I'm fine, thank you.
That sounds like a warning.
I'm not nervous.

I am just
        to death.

This time
    for real

What about the button?
- You are slowing down.

What else do you remember? Try to remember.
There must be something else.
It must have been a terrible war.

Don't lose it.
Every day is wonderful when I'm with you.
Don't go away.

It's over

(Laurie Anderson as Mrs. Lincoln in
The Civil Wars: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down, Act V - The Rome Section.
Music by Philip Glass, lyrics by Robert Wilson)

(any help would be deeply appreciated)

Aug 26, 2010

Anderson Sings! (1989)

Time for another vintage article: this one is from New York Times, written in 1989 by Catherine Texier.

Topics swirl around 'Empty Places' - the "delayed reaction to Ronald Reagan", "giant cartoon mockup of my life"; what's the relation between a manhole and 'Coolsville', Garbo Talks Anderson Sings, 'Beautiful Red Dress' and the "great privilege to become crazy", plus a piece that didn't make it to 'Empty Places' (about unborn people who desperately wanted to come down to Earth).

Aug 25, 2010

'Mambo and Bling' Multimedia

Listen to...

  • 'Mambo and Bling's "original" version, recorded in 2008 at Duke University's Page Auditorium *:

  • Just a reminder that an updated version of 'Mambo and Bling' is also available online on the National Public Radio's World Café website, recorded at Laurie Anderson's recent appearance in the show on August 19th, 2010.


Excerpts of Fenway Bergamot's not-so-aimless rambling on Nonesuch's website (some parts may be familiar from 'Pictures and Things', B-side of Homeland's 12" vinyl single):

* Along with the audio, there's also an interview made with Laurie Anderson in Independent Weekly, written by Grayson Currin, before the US presidential elections in 2008.

Aug 24, 2010

Then and Now #5: the Blocks of Ice

1975: 'Duets on Ice' in Genova, Italy. Laurie Anderson and two Italian men on different levels of sociability.

Photo by Bob Bielecki

2005: Laurie Anderson opens her exhibition 'The Record of Time' at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland.

Photo source: Profimedia

"I love duets so I made a violin that plays by itself, so that I could play duets with it live. This combination of live and pre-recorded has been basic to my work for ever. This violin was played in five different places around New York. It was an endless cassette loop. Like many minimal pieces, it would start and yards and yards of material would go by and then it would stop, it didn't have a narrative structure typical to music, that's why it was minimalism."

"I used for this timing mechanism, for this endless piece of music a pair of ice-skates which I wore with their blades frozen into blocks of ice. I played this piece - endless loop - until the ice melted and I lost my balance and the concert was over. So, there I was, on this hot summer street of New York, wearing these ice-skates that were sort of gradually wobbling and then my ankles would splay out and the concert would be over and people were like "what's that?". But, for me, it had the social aspect of an audience which I really did enjoy as an artist because my question is always: who are you talking to? Who's your audience? Who are you making this for? History? Other artists? Critics? Your friends? General public? Box office? Who?"
(Laurie Anderson, on her Self-Playing Violin,
part of the MoMA's collection in New York)

If you go to the MoMA collection's website, you can listen to Laurie Anderson describe her Self-Playing Violin (1974) and 'Duets on Ice'.

"A disquieting undocumented alien among all those clichés"

Yes, the quote is about Laurie Anderson (who else), in a portrait of America's Multi-Mediatrix in Wired Magazine, written by Pamela McCorduck - from the time when her male clone was still nameless, Nerve Bible was the future, 'The Ugly One...' was a yet-untitled collaboration with Brian Eno, and Laurie was not on friendly terms with CD-ROMs.

Aug 22, 2010

United Sleevefaces

I just can't decide which sleeveface* of United States Live is better:

Original here:

* sleeveface = "one or more persons obscurings or augmenting any part of the body or bodies with record sleeve(s) causing an illusion. You're basically posing with the record label as though it were a part of your own body." (UrbanDictionary)

Aug 21, 2010

Reason #157 Why Laurie Anderson Rocks: Personal Service Announcement Videos

"I made PSA videos in place of a music video. I had finished an album and the record company goes "okay, time to do a music video" and, you know, it's so humiliating, you have to look really good and prance around and lip-synch... it looks so bad and they're so corny. I mean, now there's been some nice music videos but very few of them. It's kinda great to make a tiny visual poem that's based on music. In my opinion, the inventor of this art form is Wim Wenders, because he made the first movies for pieces of music - it's just that song, that short piece of music - and he made a visual thing to it... and then, of course, it became a promo thing for record companies.
Anyway, they asked me to do this music video... and I realized that actually if you're really positive about something, and secure, they'll kinda go along with it. I said "instead of exactly relating to the music, I'm going to make what I call Personal Service Announcements, things that are related to the songs. That's cool, you know."
In the end they had nothing to do with the songs: they were about how much money women make, different things about the national debt... They really hadn't anything to do with them. And none of the music was in it from the record.
However, I was very definite about it, I told them "that will buy great, don't you think?!" People at the record companies don't know what to think... They are super insecure. I think that's why so many people have breakdowns in Hollywood because it's such a woodoo industry... It's different from other things because you don't know why a record or a movie is successful, how much does it have to do with what it is. It's just a craps, you don't really know."

(Laurie Anderson at the Kelly Writers House, 24th of March, 2004,
as loosely captioned from the video of the reading *)

(* the video, in spite of its poor quality, is even more hilarious than this transcript)

Aug 19, 2010

'Only an Expert' Reshaped

Now here's a slightly enhanced version of Laurie Anderson's live performance of 'Only an Expert', aired today on NPR's World Café show:

- cut out two (or three) misspelled / blurred parts that were so flawlessly fixed after they'd been muffed at first
- overall volume leveled off then normalized
- background hiss removed

... I hope this kind of alteration still does not fall into the getting-the-air-out-of-the-record category.

I have to say I prefer this low-key variant of 'Only an Expert' to the album version... and the cynicism level of Laurie's voice really kicks a$$.

World Café, NPR

Laurie Anderson's appearance on National Public Radio's World Café on the 19th of August, 2010 is now available in the online archive of NPR. Instead of my speculation, the show turned out to be a 14-minute-long interview and an updated, one-woman version of 'Only an Expert', plus a new variant of 'Mambo and Bling' as web extra. All of them can be listened to

A quick extract of the subjects: 'Homeland' in its early stages (when it still was "a very loosely titled project"), nomads, Berlin vs. Tallahassee, Gemütlichkeit, 'Another Day in America' ("the bridge in the middle of the record"), mental drift, politics vs. poetry, how the hobby of engineering 'Homeland' became a horror for Laurie, pulling the alter ego out of the box, parents, etc.

Aug 18, 2010

Laurie Anderson concert tomorrow?!

National Public Radio (i. e. public radio stations United States-wide) will broadcast a live performance of Laurie Anderson's 'Homeland' tomorrow. No clue if it's going to be a live or a pre-recorded act. Somehow I assume it's going to be the performance called 'Another Day in America' she did last month at World Café Live in Philadelphia, PA.

According to Radio WXPN's schedule, if my calculations are correct, the concert will be on air between 20:00 - 22:00 (Central European Time) on Thursday night, 19th of August, 2010. Which means it's freakin' tomorrow!! Rebroadcast from 7:00 until 9:00 on Friday morning.

Here is the live stream of Radio WXPN. (Click to the orange logo on the left.)

Kandinsky in Motion

We dig down in the ocean.
Swing up to the stars.
We own the moon and the earth.
We're masters of Mars.
We're bodies in motion.
We embody the spirit of motion.


Our ancestors cowered in caves
Afraid of the dark and the thunder.
Wrapped up in black magic and rage
They were slaves to their hunger


Now we fly across mountains in planes
We know all about time and big numbers.
We're bodies in motion.
We embody the spirit of motion.


I love you with all my heart.
You have my devotion.
I loved you from the start.
We're bodies in motion.
We embody the spirit of motion.


Ooo the weight of the world. Eternal spin.
Puts a dent in my shoulder.
A burn in my spin.
A burn in my spin.


Some say the future is crowds
fighting for water and space.
Chaotic and dark and loud,
everything used up and taken


But I say the future's within
the still point of the mind
Where we escape the bounds of earth
And break the bonds of time.


If somebody asked me to design a religion
I would make it all about snow.
No good or evil and no suffering.
Just perfect crystals spinning
In ecstasy


1: Transverse Line / Wassily Kandinsky, 1923
2: Heavy Circles / Wassily Kandinsky, 1927
3: Mild Tension / Wassily Kandinsky, 1923
4: Colourful Ensemble / Wassily Kandinsky, 1938
5: Upward / Wassily Kandinsky, 1929
6: Grouping / Wassily Kandinsky, 1937
7: Circles in a Circle / Wassily Kandinsky, 1923
8: Fixed Light / Wassily Kandinsky, 1932

Photo source:
'Bodies in Motion' lyrics by Laurie Anderson

Aug 16, 2010

Hören ist wissen.

German radio station Deutschlandfunk featured a Laurie Anderson portrait by Christiane Rebmann on the 16th of August, 2010: a collage of excerpts from an interview made in Hamburg during this year's soccer world cup, plus songs from 'Homeland'. Caution: German voice-over. (But hopefully some of you, who can be silent in four (five, six, seven...) languages, will appreciate it.)

  • Deutschlandfunk's Laurie Anderson Portrait, Part One (audio length: 10 mins 42 secs, file size: 14.7 MB): 50% baseball stadium, 50% Proust, air and the imperfections in 'Homeland', stories that don't have a simple solution, the heavy quotation marks around 'Homeland', untrue but good stories, the polemic white rap named 'Only an Expert'...

  • Deutschlandfunk's Laurie Anderson Portrait, Part Two (audio length: 8 mins 42 secs, file size: 11.9 MB): favourite Saturday clothes and wedding ceremonies, Lolabelle's Jerry Lee Lewis technique, the multitasking human mind, the most stupid e-mail that Laurie received in the last 24 hours, sleeping self turning legal age... just the usual Laurie Anderson stuff ;)

Aug 14, 2010

Just because it was there

Laurie Anderson on Canal Street near her studio on a chilly day sometime in the 80s.

The Amazing Future of Sounds

"I think there’ll be really amazing acoustical spaces to listen to things in, and the sound replication will be hyper-real as well."

Read more about what Laurie Anderson predicts about the sounds of the future, her opinion about Facebook and what qualities she treasures in another artists in this gorgeous article in Smithsonian by Jamie Katz.

Aug 13, 2010

Stare with Your Ears

...This could be an excerpt from a Laurie Anderson lyrics but it's the title of a documentary on Ken Nordine, le doyen of spoken word, created by Pakistani-Canadian film director Omar Majeed, featuring interview excerpts of - amongst others - Laurie Anderson.

Extra: a recording of the Meltdown Festival that is mentioned in the documentary (created by Laurie Anderson in London, 1997) can be listened to here.

Aug 10, 2010

When Thinking of Walking the Dog Goes Psycho

Concentration. Empty your mind.
Let the rest of the world go by.
Hold your breath.
Hold your breath.

Close your eyes.

Close your eyes.

Now imagine you're at the most wonderful party.

Maybe if I fall. Maybe if I fall asleep
There’ll be a party there

Delicious food.

No wonder these puppets
Are always in a lousy mood

Interesting people.

Americans unrooted blow with the wind

Terrific music.

That came from their radios
That came from their gods

Now open them!

But they feel the truth if it touches them

Oh no.

Well, I just want to go home now
and walk
the dog.

The Magnetic North Pole

The Nuclear-Free Future Award celebrates the achievements and facilitates with money prizes people, organizations and communities who are leading the struggle to keep our planet livable for the sake of the coming generations by ending the Nuclear Age.

In the following video from cca. 2001, Laurie Anderson is greeting the recipients of the Nuclear-Free Future Award and recalling the end of the world...

"A long time ago, I'd hitchhiked to the Magnetic North Pole. It took me two months to get there, and there I was camping out by myself and suddenly the sky opened up - green veils, purple veils - it was the northern lights. But I'd only seen pictures of the northern lights, I had never seen the real northern lights. So I was frightened and amazed, and I thought "there's been a nuclear war and I'm the only survivor".
For two days, before I left when a little plane came to pick me up, I was convinced that this had happened. And it was very frightening two days because I was able then to really imagine a world that had been destroyed, and, of course, I was greatly relieved when the plane came, but it didn't change, this vision that I had... because I think that in order to prevent events, whether it's a nuclear war, an explosion, or a malfunction, that it's important to be able to imagine that with its full ramifications, in order to prevent it, and to understand the real amount of devastation.
So, this is why I think that what [those involved with the Nuclear-Free Future Award] are doing here is an amazing and very important event that can change the course of life in our world."

Aug 8, 2010

Some things are just


They're scenes

before   your   eyes.

Don't look now.

I'm   right



(Photo by Martin Schoeller, 1999. Source here)
('Coolsville' lyrics by Laurie Anderson)

Aug 7, 2010

jeffboule FTW

Two excellent AND detailed reviews from Jeff Boule at Looney Tunes CD's, make me wanna meet the guy:

  • Homeland - track-by-track review of the album

Aug 5, 2010

"I consider myself as much of a visual artist as a musician, so I have a lot to do."

All her own invention - John L. Walter's article on Laurie Anderson in Eye Magazine. iPh*ne gadgets, tape bow violin, mouth light, chalkboard animations made for 'Delusion', haptics as a possible new art form et cetera.

Lolabelle in da house!

Watch Lolabelle, Laurie Anderson's musical Wunderkind Wunderhund getting into the groove:

(video source: Italian Vanity Fair)

Aug 4, 2010

'Talking Animals' on WMNF Radio

Now in this show there are a lot of stories about talking animals; and about people who try to communicate with them.

Talking Animals' guest was Laurie Anderson via telephone on WMNF Radio today. They talked about - of course - Lolabelle, her illness and the music therapy, the dog concert in Sydney, singing trees in Basel (the installation is going to open soon and will be available for three years), music about fish for blind people, 'Only an Expert' and this year's Mermaid Parade on Coney Island where Laurie was Queen Mermaid, Lou Reed was King Neptune and Lolabelle was the Royal Mer-Dog.

The programme is probably going to be available to download later from the show's website but till then, here it is:

  • introduction (audio length: 0 mins 38 secs, file size: 0.9 MB)

  • part 01 (audio length: 4 mins 16 secs, file size: 5.86 MB)

  • part 02 (audio length: 7 mins 22 secs, file size: 10.1 MB)

  • part 03 (audio length: 8 mins 19 secs, file size: 11.4 MB)

Aug 3, 2010

A story in an ancient play

[Aesop's] story tells us that the lark was born
before the other birds, before the Earth.
Her father then grew sick and died. For five days
he lay there unburied—there was no Earth.
Not knowing what to do, at last the lark,
at her wits’ end, set him in her own head.

(A story in an ancient play about birds called The Birds, by Aristophanes
English translation by Ian Johnston)

Key to 'Delusion'

"I'm trying to make a kind of trance-like situation with images and sounds, so that your mind can float and do the jump-cutting that this piece requires you to do."

(Laurie Anderson on 'Delusion')

Click to the picture for a video of Laurie Anderson talking about 'Delusion'.

Aug 2, 2010

The American Noise Interview

An in-depth interview on 'Homeland' by Stephen M. Deusner: Fenway Bergamot, the story of the lark, books on economy, the bass on Homeland and many, many more.