As I mentioned when I road tested John Mackenzie’s new album of poetry, I had one more experiment to perform with it. The idea came about while listening to the album, and especially whenever he said the word “days,” I couldn’t help but think of one my favorite artists of all-time Laurie Anderson.
Now, this is odd, as it would be hard to find two artists more diametrically opposed in style or content. On the other hand, both artists are consummate storytellers and deeply concerned with language. So, given that juxtaposition is at the heart of combinatorial creativity, I decided to put Laurie Anderson’s first album—Big Science, her latest album—Homeland, and John Mackenzie’s Mumbling Jack onto the MP3 player together, select shuffle and hit play.
I was very pleased with what fate tossed up in its wake. The juxtapositions included the humorous –going from John Mackenzie’s “Hey!Hey! I wanna tell ya somethin’” into the wolf howls at the beginning of Anderson’s “Big Science”– to the smooth – transitioning from John Mackenzie’s “the slow, wistful glance/of my mind’s eye over poems/and songs of youth leaves/their glazes cracked, unfit for/wine women wisdom whiskey song” into Anderson’s “Maybe if I fall/Maybe if I fall asleep/There’ll be a party there” from “Falling” on the Homeland album – and on to the magical – Anderson’s “Thinking of You” leading into Mackenzie’s “Out of the Corners of My Eyes.”
The sombre, melancholic tone of much of Anderson’s music resonates very nicely with Mackenzie’s voice.
Hearing the work mixed together like this allowed for common themes to become clear as well, both are concerned with the passage of time and the hidden patterns in everyday life. Also, unlike her earlier work, Anderson’s later work is more reliant on nature metaphors of the type favoured by Mackenzie.
Overall, it was a very successful experiment. Try it out for yourself. Take Mumbling Jack by John Mackenzie, put it on an MPS player with your favourite musician/poet, hit shuffle and see what pops up.
Depth Charge: Here is Laurie Anderson being interviewed about her latest performance Piece,Dirtday, and her work in general.