Laurie Anderson: “O Superman” (1981)

It’s an excellent bird, it’s a crashing plane, it’s… superman!

Kronomyth 0.9: A weapon of Massenet deconstruction.

When I listen to O Superman, time stops. Every time. And that’s what the best art does: it stops time. It shoos away the nagging seconds of duty and the diligent pursuit of our modest destinies so that we might admire the beauty, the absurdity or (even) the unreality of the world around us. Calling Laurie Anderson a “one-hit wonder” would unwantingly disparage a long and fruitful career, and yet has any hit ever held more wonder?

The flip side is both funkier and funnier. Walk the Dog reveals how we run away from our problems, in this case by walking the dog. It is, like so many of Laurie Anderson’s stories, profoundly absurd. It’s also more musical than most of what appeared on Big Science, so if you find the spoken word too spare for your tastes, you may appreciate this musical exercise more than, say, “Let X=X.”

Original 7-inch and 12-inch single version

A1. O Superman (Laurie Anderson) (8:21)
B1. Walk the Dog (Laurie Anderson) (5:55)

The Players

Produced by Roma Baran & Laurie Anderson; assistant producer: Perry Hoberman; engineered by Roma Baran.

The Pictures

Cover by Laurie Anderson. Graphics by Perry Hoberman.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch and 12-inch single in October 1981 in the UK (Warner Bros., K-17870) and the US (Warner Bros., WBSP 49876/DWBS 49888). Reached #2 on the UK charts (charted on October 17, 1981 for 6 weeks).

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