Laurie Anderson Talks About Homeland, Spalding Gray, Being a Snob
Laurie Anderson performs Homeland for five nights at the Lincoln Center Festival in NYC, Rose Theater, Lincoln Center Time Warner Center. Ticket information here.
"I'm not messianic about this. I don't need to bring my message to the world. I'm a classic case of talking, you know, to the people who agree with me in a lot of ways. And it's also because I'm a snob, you know. I don't think art's a very good way to convince people."
Touted as "one of today's premier performance artists," native of the Chicago suburbs and longtime New Yorker Laurie Anderson has toiled, among other art forms, as photographer, poet and pop star―her single "O Superman" reached number two on the British charts back in the day. And her recent schedule has been typically busy as well. In April of this year she married longtime companion Lou Reed in Colorado. In June she celebrated her 61st birthday on tour in South Carolina and this week Anderson will bring Homeland, a musical project which first premiered as a work-in-progress at the Highline Ballroom in May of last year, to the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center for a five-night run.
On a beautiful Friday mid-July morning we discussed the evolution and meaning of Homeland, her love for her adopted hometown and her collaborations with the late monologist Spalding Gray.
I'm not an etiquette expert but seeing as how we're inside of six months from your wedding, I guess you're still officially a newlywed and I should say, 'Congratulations.'
Thank you very much.
You're so welcome.
Can you tell me something that you've never ever done before in your life?
Answered a question like this one.
Okay, tell me something that you've done once and one time only.
Well, not skydiving. Sorry. Cancel that. Hang gliding.
Which is almost as terrifying as sky diving, so congratulations on that as well.
The name of a book that you've read at least twice.
A movie that you've seen at least three times.
Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Your favorite Beatle.
I don't have one.
You love them all equally?
[laughs] Well, I guess that's one way to answer the question.
And is there a beverage within your current reach?
No, but the ice coffee is about 20 feet away. Let me just go get it. Can you hold on?
Okay. Thanks for reminding me of that.
No problem at all. I'm glad the question could serve some kind of purpose.
So if my math is correct it's been about 14 months since the first work-in-progress performance of Homeland. Does that sound about right?
Yeah. You know, for the last couple of years I've done a lot of live shows, and at the beginning they were all really, really different and then I would pick like one thing from that show and it would go into the kind of Homeland bin. And I collected them like that. I didn't sit around in the studio writing songs. I kind of wrote them really quickly, performed them right away and the audience more or less edited them.
It's interesting that you trust the audience so much as to allow their reactions to inform the editing process. Am I hearing that right?
Yes, you are.