for two marimbas, vibraphone, glockenspiel, cello, violin and flute (2009)
When I first heard Laurie Anderson’s “O, Superman” I could hardly have been the intended audience. I was 12 years old and living in the kind of sheltered and homogenous suburbia that Ms. Anderson so sharply critiqued in both “O, Superman” and her epic “United States” touring show. I certainly had no real awareness of the kind of hip, downtown energies from which Ms. Anderson and her aesthetic emerged. And yet, the spare and haunting setting deeply affected me. Her deceptively soothing and controlled delivery infected my pre-teenage state and when she intoned “There’s Always Mom,” I did understand on some level that one could be loved too much.
I still enjoy listening to Ms. Anderson’s work and never really tire of her humor, regardless of the fact that it seems less potent in our irony-saturated world. But these days, when I hear her resigned slogan “There’s Always Mom,” I tend to think less of my agitated regard for authority than the cycles of memories, real or imagined, that grip my life and perhaps others, and that have the potential to paralyze us in a stasis that resembles both comfort and horror.