On the most recent Bob’s Slacktime Funhouse, Suzie played what she referred to as “fine Subgenius approved filler”, which was Part 3 of Laurie Anderson’s United States. I haven’t listened to this in a long time but I own it. In fact, I have the 4 LP set on vinyl, as well as the LP of Big Science. Man o man, is this good! When I was in college and beginning to expand my boundaries in musical tastes, Laurie Anderson was a good indicator. To most of my friends, it was so far out there as to be unlistenable. To my WREK friends, it was so normal as to be essentially Top 40. I had imprinted on Ms Anderson a few years earlier, when I still lived in Kansas. In that magical time when we got this new thing called cable TV and it has this magical channel called the USA Network that showed a magical program called “Night Flight”. I saw the video for “O Superman” in my early teens and had a reaction that swung between “WTF is this?” and “This is the coolest thing I have ever seen.”
I saw her play a few times. The first was when my buddy time and I made a road trip to the Spoleto Festival in Charleston to see her. We had free WREK tickets and we had vague plans of trying to interview her that never actually came together. It was a fun time, and we tried to make it a JV version of a beat poet road trip, without much success. In 1993 I was back in Atlanta when she was playing the Roxie in Buckhead. I went to the show, again with Tim, and after the performance she did a signing at Oxford Books a few blocks away. I brought my hardcover copies of the book of United States and also purchased a copy of Stories from the Nerve Bible and got them both signed. The line was hundreds of people deep, the signing didn’t start until 11 PM, and we were near the end of the line. Oxford stayed open extra late to deal with it, and when we got up there she was funny and pleasant despite having done the exact same thing for two hours straight. She drew cartoons in our books and inked her thumb and left prints in our books, and was generally her goofy self.
Good times. When I hear her music, it takes me back to these fun times when I felt edgy just for liking music most people couldn’t stand. I suppose I prefer her earlier, starker material to the fuller workups later on with full bands. Something about “Finnish Farmers” or “Lighting out for the Territories” still gives me chills when I hear them, and gives me the sensation of standing on the brink of an abyss but staring into the void unafraid. That’s some pretty deep emotion for a simple song to instill.