I’ve mentioned before here that Laurie Anderson was one of the inspirations for this project. Even though I don’t closely mimic her Midwestern delivery, that subtle mix of the dry and the droll with muted pleasure in observation. It’s more at the idea that things put into a different context reveal aspects you never noticed before. And yes, she often did this mixed with music she composed.
We rarely go to mothers for new aspects. In the usual course of things, they are our original appreciation of reality — and one that we return to, or long to return to, when the novel has taken a bad turn.
That said — and I’ve said so much in the last few posts that you might welcome a break from my long-windedness — when I considered yesterday evening if I needed to make a post noting Mother’s Day, this song, “O Superman,” by Laurie Anderson came bounding into my head. I recorded a version of it on a similar whim nearly a decade ago, just because it had remained well-balanced in the weird place between understandable and elusive. *
Because “O Superman” is a work clearly under copyright, you won’t see an audio player today for that version I did. Though I’ve probably bent the rules a few times here, this project keeps away from using work the authors have some legal ownership of. Remuneration for almost all poets almost all of the time is tiny, and increasingly this is true of more musicians and artists more of the time. The YouTube video below is my compromise with that.
Yes, there’s a typo in the credits at the end. Embarrassing! I blame the late hour when I was cobbling this together.
My rough understanding is that if my video would ever rise to the viewership level of getting YouTube ads inserted, the owner of the rights could/might get the fraction of a penny that would generate. Anderson herself has this video made of her composition back in the day, and it’s worth observing her presentation of her own art, though I note one recent comment on her video:
I played this song at a party in my house once. Ever since then, no one’s even come near my house again.”
Perhaps that comes of the artistic trick in Anderson’s song as she performs it: to make mom strange so that we may observe differently. Mother and strange don’t rhyme for many.
My version is an excerpt of the whole song with different instrumentation, and I’ve never been much for “just like the original record” covers anyway. My shorter version focuses more on the mother aspect and where and when we seek that. Call me a Modernist beset by sentiment, but the ending to Anderson’s song nearly always brings tears to my eyes.
*Want to read more about Anderson’s work? Here are two articles about it: this one about the creation of the original piece, and this recent one by Margaret Atwood about her experience of it.