O Superman

O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad. O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad. Hi. I’m not home right now. But if you want to leave a message, just start talking at the sound of the tone. Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there? Are you coming home? Hello? Is anybody home? Well, you don’t know me, but I know you. And I’ve got a message to give to you. Here come the planes. So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go. And I said: OK. Who is this really? And the voice said: This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the hand, the hand that takes. Here come the planes. They’re American planes. Made in America. Smoking or non-smoking? And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. ‘Cause when love is gone, there’s always justice. And when justice is gone, there’s always force. And when force is gone, there’s always Mom. Hi Mom! So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms. In your arms. So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms. In your electronic arms.

In homage to the avant-garde diva and prophetess whose song reached #2 on the British pop charts on this date, October 17th, 1981.

I used to have a cassette of her album Strange Angels. I liked it so much that I gave it to my elder daughter as a generous gesture; her tastes being off-beat and eclectic, even more so than mine. She was horrified as if I’d given her a live scorpion. My younger son had a trick greeting card once. I think he got it in Malaysia. When you opened it, a dried scorpion leapt out on a concealed spring.

I’d place Laurie Anderson in whatever pantheon houses Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, only her irony is more acerbic. I don’t see Americans in general or the Nobel Prize committee taking her to their hearts.

Here are the lyrics to her “Hiawatha”. To listen to her unearthly rendition, click here (opens in a new tab).

By the shores of Gitche Gumee
By the shining big, sea water
Downward through the evening twilight
In the days that are forgotten
From the land of sky blue waters

And I said: Hello Operator, get me Memphis Tennessee
And she said: I know who you’re tryin’ to call darlin’
And he’s not home he’s been away
But you can hear him on the airwaves
He’s howlin’ at the moon
Yeah this is your country station
And honey this next one’s for you

And all along the highways
And under the big western sky
They’re singin’ Ooo oooooo
They’re singin’ Wild Blue
And way out on the prairie
And up in the high chaparral
They hear a voice it says: Good evening
This is Captain Midnight speaking
And I’ve got a song for you
Goes somethin’ like this:

Starlight Starbright
We’re gonna hang some new stars in the heavens tonight
They’re gonna circle by day
They’re gonna fly by night
We’re goin’ sky high. Yoo Hooooo hooo
Yeah yoo hooo Ooo Hooooooooo
So good night ladies
And good night gentlemen
Keep those cards and letters coming
And please don’t call again

Geronimo and little Nancy
Marilyn and John F. dancing
Uncle took the message
And it’s written on the wall
These are pictures of the houses
Shining in the midnight moonlight
While the King sings Love Me Tender

And all along the watchtowers
And under the big western sky
They’re singing Yoo Hooooo
They’re singing Wild Blue
And way, way up there, bursting in air
Red rockets, bright red glare
From the land of sky blue waters
Sent by freedom’s sons and daughters

We’re singing Ooo Hoooooooo
We’re singing Wild Blue
We’re singing Ooo Hoooooooo Ooo Hooooooooo

And dark behind it rose the forest
Rose the black and gloomy pine trees
Rose the firs with Cones upon them
And right before it beat the water
Beat the clear and sunny water
Beat the shinning big, sea water

 

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3 thoughts on “O Superman

  1. Hi Vincent, I hope you’re feeling better. Glad you mentioned Laurie Anderson and especially “O Superman” which I loved from when it first came out. I have it on a 45rpm vinyl record. There was something fresh and unique about her music and performances but in recent times, I don’t think she lived up to that promise. I saw her a few years ago at a show she gave and was disappointed. Nevertheless, she’s certainly up there with the best.

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  2. Thanks, Natalie, am on the mend again now after some difficult weeks.

    As for Laurie, she had her brief moment as a pop idol. I know her less than you do, I think, but guess that being perennially experimental, she’s been liable to throw up failures along the way. Then again, she might be seen as past her peak. I don’t stop to analyze my own case—still hoping to discover new expression.

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  3. um, Hi Vincent. at this point am embroiled in a sort of “retrain your brain” endeavour – with no guarantee of success … meh ,, story of my life.

    Thanks fer yer comments … am compiling a rather more detailed email for, and to, you… but don’t hold yer breath, waiting … Cheers,
    ME

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