Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Let's Hear It for the Medium Dogs!"

The first time I ever went into New York City unchaperoned  was to go with my fellow pseudo-intellectual pals to a Carnegie Hall show by Laurie Anderson. This was the early 80s, and Anderson was known for "electronic" music. She manipulated her voice and violin using a battery of electronic gadgets. Many of her songs were simply spoken monologues over eerie or screechy ambient sound. Her lyrics stuck me and my peers as deep. (If you were alive and sentient and nerdy during the Reagan years and living in or near New York City, you may remember "O Superman." It featured Anderson's highly processed voice narrating a one-sided, existential telephone conversation. "Hello? Is anybody there? Is anybody listening? O O O O.") Later, she did the album Mister Heartbreak with Peter Gabriel. Its song "Sharkey's Night" featured the voice of William S. Burroughs reading the lyrics over screechy, amplified violins and swoopy Bolivian whistles. It's a classic, but it won't make sense if you are too young to know what a "courtesy telephone" is. Anderson is best known these days as the spouse of "rock legend Lou Reed." Who?  I was such a nerd; I had never heard of The Velvet Underground.

Flash forward thirty years. Anderson recently gave a concert at the Sydney Opera House in Australia (where it is winter by the way). Her audience? Dogs. At first, she wanted to play sounds that only dogs could hear, but she decided to include some human-audible sounds just to keep owners' attention. (Anderson regularly plays for her own dog, a rat terrier named Lollabelle.) Check out this clip to see how the dogs reacted. Also, read about the concert here.

1 comment:

  1. Psahw, "wife of Lou Reed." Laurie Anderson is so much more of a star and innovator than he ever was/will be.

    She mentioned she came up with the idea for the dog concert w/ YoYo Ma. He had an album recently where he collaborated with musicians of all kinds and was killer...I'll see if I can find a link...


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