Sunday, August 03, 2008

Number 470 - Laurie Anderson


Number 470

Laurie Anderson

"O Superman"

(1981)
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Genre:Electronica
Ready for the Olympics Mr. Almighty?
Not like I'll get time to watch them, hell I don't get time to scratch myself anymore, let alone watch tv, (lol) I'm sure you'll keep me informed on how we're doing.
I have no clue what's happening in the world today, sad really when work takes your life so totally over that you don't have time to catch up with news, friends or family. I had to make an appointment with my daughter just to see my grandbabies, how freaking sad is that?
I guess I need to find myself a fella that can keep me in the lifestyle I've become accustomed to, so I can cut down my working…… not!!
Ok I'm done rambling for now, lets get down to business.
~ TEZ
Bizarre? me? not even
After briefly entering the mainstream pop radar in 1981 with her lone hit "O Superman," Laurie Anderson enjoyed a public visibility greater than virtually any other avant-garde figure of her era. Her infrequent forays into rock aside, Anderson nevertheless remained firmly grounded within the realm of performance art, her ambitious multimedia projects encompassing not only music but also film, mime, visual projections, dance, and -- most importantly -- spoken and written language, the cornerstone of all of her work. Born in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, IL on June 5, 1947, she studied violin as a teen; relocating to New York City at age 20, she later attended Barnard College, graduating with a B.A. in art history in 1969. After earning an M.F.A. in sculpture from Columbia University in 1972, Anderson taught art history and Egyptian architecture at City College; she mounted her first public performances a year later.
Mr & Mrs Lou Reed
By 1976, Anderson was regularly mounting performances in museums, concert halls and art festivals throughout North America and Europe; claiming to base all of her projects on the power of words and language, her work also emphasized visual imagery and cutting-edge technology, with pieces like 1980's "Born, Never Asked" written for both orchestra and electronics. A year later Anderson recorded "O Superman" for the tiny New York label 110 Records; an eleven-minute single built around electronic drones and featuring opaque lyrics half-spoken and half-sung (in a voice sometimes electronically treated), this most unlikely hit became a smash in Britain, where it reached the number two spot on the national pop charts. Warner Bros. soon signed Anderson to record a full-length LP, and in 1982 she issued Big Science, a work drawn from a much larger project, the seven-hour multi-media performance United States.
artist supreme
With 1984's Mister Heartbreak, Anderson produced her most overtly pop-oriented work, teaming with artists including Peter Gabriel and Adrian Belew; the end result even reached the American Top 100. That same year she also issued United States Live, a recorded document of the complete performance spread across a five-LP set. Anderson's next project, Home of the Brave, was a concert film; a year later, she also scored the Jonathan Demme/Spaulding Gray film Swimming to Cambodia. A proper studio album, Strange Angels, did not follow until 1989; the next several years were devoted to performance tours, including 1990's "Empty Places," 1991's "Voices from the Beyond" and 1993's "Stories from the Nerve Bible." In 1994, Anderson teamed with producer Brian Eno for Bright Red, also featuring her boyfriend Lou Reed; the following year she released the LP The Ugly One with Jewels as well as Puppet Motel, a CD-ROM confirming her ongoing interest in the latest technology. ~ [Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide]
For Lou Reed see Number 922
For related Lou Reed see Number 953
Explain "O Superman"
Anderson constructed the song as a cover of the aria "O Souverain, o juge, o père" (O Sovereign, O Judge, O Father) from Jules Massenet's 1885 opera Le Cid. She got the idea after listening to a recording of the aria made by African-American tenor Charles Holland, whose career was hampered for decades by racism in the classical music world. The first lines ("O Superman / O Judge / O Mom and Dad") especially echo the original aria ("O Souverain / o juge / o père"). (Susan McClary suggests in her book Feminine Endings that Anderson is also recalling another opera by Massenet; his 1902 opera, Le jongleur de Notre-Dame. The opera is one in which the arms of the mother—the Virgin Mary—embrace/bless the dying Rodrigo. In this way, it may not have been simply a "cover" of the Le Cid aria.)
Overlaid on a sparse background of two alternating chords formed by the repeated spoken syllable "Ha," the text of "O Superman" is spoken through a vocoder. A saxophone is heard as the song fades out, and a sample of tweeting birds is subtly overlaid at various points within the track.
O Superman
As part of the larger work United States, the text addresses issues of technology and communication, quoting at various points answering machine messages and (what is falsely perceived to be) the United States Postal Service creed: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." This line is in fact the inscription over the entrance of the James Farley Post Office in New York and is derived from a line in Herodotus' Histories (8.98), referring to the ancient courier service of the Persian Empire. All of this is in the context of an attack by American planes and arms. Several times, including in an interview with the Australian magazine Bulletin (22 January 2003), Anderson has claimed that the song is connected to Iran-Contra affair occurring when she wrote it. However, because the song was released in 1981 and the first public reporting of the weapons-for-hostages deal happened on November 3, 1986, this could not be true. It is also possible that Anderson simply used the wrong term for the original Iran hostage crisis which took place in 1979-1980, a time frame which does more closely fit Anderson's description.
"O Superman" did not appeal to all listeners. According to the 1982 book The Rock Lists Album, compiled by John Tobler and Allan Jones, polls conducted by several unidentified British newspapers saw "O Superman" voted readers' least favorite hit single of 1981 (even though the song had been championed by John Peel & Crowbarred). ~ [Source:Wikipedia]
What does Rolling Stone think of Laurie Anderson?
Avant-garde performance artist Laurie Anderson had a British pop hit with her 1981 recording "O Superman" (b/w "Walk the Dog"). Like all her music, "O Superman" was just one aspect of a larger multimedia oeuvre - in this case a seven-hour work in four parts called United States, I-IV, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music early in 1983. (A lavishly illustrated book about the show was published shortly thereafter, as well as the five-record United States Live.) With background music performed on various electronic keyboard instruments and woodwinds, and Anderson's speaking and singing voice (sometimes electronically treated), "O Superman" was one of the year's more unusual hits. ~ [Source:Rolling Stone -from The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Simon & Schuster, 2001]
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '470th Song of all Time' was "Free Man In Paris" by Joni Mitchell. Joni Mitchell has not appeared in The Definitive 1000.
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (If it aint on the cover...) and the Album ranked at (....then it aint in the countdown)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 76.4 out of 108

Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z
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5 Comments:

Blogger crowbarred said...

Only Almighty i know of is Tharg! NZ is ready for the Olympics and i'm sure we will get more Gold medals than ewe fellaz in OZ (we normally do)

11:46 am  
Blogger crowbarred said...

please lord ... let us have one little iddy biddy medal ... even if its a bronze pleaseeeeeeeeee

4:13 pm  
Anonymous Tez said...

It ain't happening buddy
Tez

9:26 am  
Anonymous Tez said...

Still no Medal eh Boss *smirks*

3:59 pm  
Blogger crowbarred said...

We got 9 ... BLEH

12:11 am  

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