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About Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson lyrics

Laurie Anderson (born Laura Phillips Anderson, on June 5, 1947, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois) is an American experimental performance artist and musician who plays violin and keyboards and sings in a variety of experimental music and art rock styles. Initially trained as a sculptor, Anderson did her first performance-art piece in the late 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, Anderson did a variety of different performance-art activities. She became widely known outside the art world in 1981 when her single "O Superman" reached number two on the UK pop charts. She also starred in and directed the 1986 concert film Home of the Brave.


She has also invented several devices that she has used in her recordings and performance art shows. In 1977, she created a tape-bow violin that uses recorded magnetic tape on the bow instead of horsehair and a magnetic tape head in the bridge. In the late 1990s, she developed a talking stick, a six-foot-long batonlike MIDI controller that can access and replicate different sounds.


On April 12, 2008 Laurie Anderson married longtime companion Lou Reed in a private ceremony in Boulder, Colorado.


Career


Early life

Anderson was born in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where she graduated from Glenbard West High School. She attended Mills College in California, and eventually graduated from Barnard College magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, studying art history. In 1972, she obtained an MFA in sculpture from Columbia University. Her first performance-art piece?a symphony played on automobile horns?was performed in 1969. In 1970, she drew the underground comix Baloney Moccasins, which was published by George DiCaprio. In the early 1970s, she worked as an art instructor, as an art critic for magazines such as Artforum, and illustrated children's books.


1970s

She performed in New York through the 1970s. One of her most-cited performances, Duets on Ice, which she conducted in New York and other cities around the world, involved her playing the violin along with a recording while wearing ice skates with the blades frozen into a block of ice; the performance ended only when the ice had melted away. Two early pieces, "New York Social Life" and "Time to Go," were included in the 1977 compilation New Music for Electronic and Recorded Media, along with works by Pauline Oliveros and others. Two other pieces were included on Airwaves a collection of audio pieces by artists. She also recorded a lecture for Vision, a set of artist's lectures released by Crown Point Press as a set of 6 LPs.


Many of Anderson's earliest recordings remain unreleased, or were only issued in limited quantities, such as her first single, "It's Not the Bullet that Kills You (It's the Hole)." That song, along with "New York Social Life" and about a dozen others, were originally recorded for use in an art installation that consisted of a jukebox that played the different Anderson compositions, at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York City. Among the musicians on these early recordings are Peter Gordon on saxophone, Scott Johnson on guitar, Ken Deifik on harmonica, and Joe Kos on drums. Photographs and descriptions of many of these early performances were included in Anderson's retrospective book, Stories from the Nerve Bible.


During the late 1970s, Anderson made a number of additional recordings that were released either privately or included on compilations of avant-garde music, most notably releases by the Giorno Poetry Systems label run by New York poet John Giorno, an early intimate of Andy Warhol.. Among the Giorno-released recordings was You're the Guy I Want to Share My Money With, a double-album shared with Giorno and William Burroughs (the original release had one LP side for each artist, with the fourth side triple-grooved, one for each, so you'd get a different one, depending on where you put the needle down). In 1978, Anderson performed at The Nova Convention, a major conference involving many counter-culture figures and rising avant-garde musical stars, including William S. Burroughs, Philip Glass, Frank Zappa, Timothy Leary, Malcolm Goldstein, John Cage, and Allen Ginsberg. She also worked with comedian Andy Kaufman in the late 1970s.


1980s

Anderson became widely known outside the art world in 1981 with the single "O Superman," originally released in a limited quantity by B. George's One Ten Records. The song reached number two on the national pop charts in Britain after the sudden influx of orders from the UK (prompted by British DJ John Peel playing the record) led to Anderson's signing a 7-album deal with Warner Bros. Records, which re-released the single.


"O Superman" was part of a larger stage work titled United States and was included on the album Big Science. Prior to the release of Big Science, Anderson returned to Giorno Poetry Systems to record the album You're the Guy I Want to Share My Money With; Anderson recorded one side of the 2-LP set, with William S. Burroughs and John Giorno recording a side each, and the fourth side featured a separate groove for each artist. This was followed by the back-to-back releases of her albums Mister Heartbreak and United States Live, the latter of which was a five-LP (and, later, 4-CD) recording of her 2-evening stage show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She also appeared in a television special produced by Nam June Paik broadcast on New Years Day 1984, entitled Good Morning Mr. Orwell (the title being inspired by Orwell's novel 1984).


She next starred in and directed the 1986 concert film Home of the Brave and also composed the soundtracks for the Spalding Gray films Swimming to Cambodia and Monster in a Box. During this time she also contributed music to Robert Wilson's "Alcestis" at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also hosted the PBS series Alive from Off-Center during this time, for which she produced the short film What You Mean We? Release of Anderson's first post-Home of the Brave album, 1989's Strange Angels, was delayed for more than a year in order for Anderson to take singing lessons. This was due to the album being more musically inclined (in terms of singing) than her previous works.


1990s

In 1991 Anderson appeared in "The Human Face" a feature arts documentary directed by artist-filmmakers Nichola Bruce and Michael Coulson for BBC TV. Anderson was the presenter in this documentary on the history of the face in art and science. Her face was transformed using latex masks and digital special effects as she introduced ideas about the relationship between physiognomy and perception. Her varied career in the early 1990s included voice-acting in the animated film The Rugrats Movie. In 1994 she created a CD-ROM titled Puppet Motel, which was followed by Bright Red, co-produced by Brian Eno, and another spoken-word album, The Ugly One with the Jewels. This was then followed by an appearance on the 1997 charity single Perfect Day.


An interval of more than half a decade followed before her next album release. During this time, she wrote a supplemental article on the cultural character of New York City for the Encyclop?dia Britannica. and created a number of multimedia presentations, most notably one inspired by Moby-Dick (Songs and Stories From Moby Dick, 1999?2000). One of the central themes in Anderson's work is exploring the effects of technology on human relationships and communication.


2000s

Life on a String, appeared in 2001, by which time she signed a new contract with another Warner Music label, Nonesuch Records. Life on a String was a mixture of new works (including one song recalling the recent death of her father) and works from the Moby Dick presentation. In 2001, she recorded the audiobook version of Don DeLillo's novel The Body Artist. Anderson, who rarely revisits older work (though themes and lyrics occasionally reappear), went on tour performing a selection of her best-known musical pieces in 2001. One of these performances was recorded in New York City only a week after the September 11, 2001, attacks, and included a performance of "O Superman." This concert was released in early 2002 as the double CD Live in New York.


In 2003, Anderson became NASA's first?and so far only?artist-in-residence, which inspired her performance piece, The End of the Moon. She mounted a succession of themed shows and composed a piece for Expo 2005 in Japan. She was part of the team that created the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Later that year, she collaborated with the choreographer Trisha Brown and filmmaker Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo on the acclaimed multimedia project O Zlozony/O Composite for the Paris Opera Ballet. The ballet premiered at the Opera Garnier in Paris in December 2004. Anderson has also collaborated with William S. Burroughs, Jean Dupuy, Arto Lindsay, Bill Laswell, Ian Ritchie, Peter Gabriel, Perry Hoberman, David Sylvian, Jean Michel Jarre, Brian Eno, Phillip Glass, Nona Hendryx, Bobby McFerrin, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dave Stewart, Peter Laurence Gordon, Hector Zazou, and Lou Reed.


Since the latter part of the 1990s Anderson and Lou Reed have collaborated on a number of recordings together. Anderson contributed to "Call on Me" from Reed's collaborative project The Raven, on the tracks "Rouge" and "Rock Minuet" from Reed's, Ecstasy and "Hang on to Your Emotions" from Reed's Set the Twilight Reeling; Lou Reed contributes to the tracks "In Our Sleep" from Laurie Anderson's Bright Red and "One Beautiful Evening" from Anderson's Life on a String. They were married on April 12, 2008.


In 2005, her exhibition The Waters Reglitterized opened at the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City. According to the press release by Sean Kelly, the work is a diary of dreams and their literal recreation as works of art. This work, created in the process of re-experiencing or re-working her dreams while awake, uses the language of dreams to investigate the dream itself. The resulting pieces include drawings, prints, and high-definition video. The installation ran until October 22, 2005. In 2006, she contributed a song to Plague Songs, a collection of songs related to the 10 Biblical plagues.


Laurie Anderson narrated Ric Burns's Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film, which was first televised in September 2006 as part of the PBS American Masters series. Anderson also performed in Came So Far for Beauty, the Leonard Cohen tribute event held in the Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland, on October 4 & October 5, 2006. Recently, through her Web site, Laurie announced a re-release of her first album, Big Science, on Nonesuch Records, a DVD box set containing her short films and the concert movie Home of the Brave, a book of drawings titled Night Life, and a new album to be released in 2008, Homeland. Subsequently, as of September 2008, the box set has yet to be released (with no release date having as yet been announced), and the Homeland album is now being promoted as a 2009 release.


Material from Homeland was performed at small work-in-progress shows in New York throughout May 2007, most notably at the Highline Ballroom on May 17 and May 18, supported by a 4-piece band with spontaneous lighting and video visuals mixed live throughout the performances by Willie Williams and Mark Coniglio, respectively. A European tour of the Homeland work in progress took place during the late summer and fall of 2007, including performances on September 28 and September 29, 2007, at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin; on October 17?19 at the Melbourne International Arts Festival; in Russia at the Moscow Dom Muzyky concert-hall on April 26, 2008. The work was performed across the Atlantic in Toronto, Canada, June 14, 2008, with husband Lou Reed, making the "Lost Art of Conversation" a duet with vocals and guitar, with his ambling style contrasting with Anderson's tightly wound performance.


Anderson was awarded the 2007 Gish Prize for her "outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to humankind?s enjoyment and understanding of life."


 

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