Laurie Anderson on the joy of aging, marrying Lou Reed and landing Sully on the Hudson
Laurie Anderson (74) is a singer/songwriter, multimedia artist and creative pioneer. Born in Illinois, she has played the violin since childhood and later studied sculpture. Laurie doesn’t do it normally — she wore skates on blocks of ice for one show, and then played a duet with herself on a converted violin. She was NASA’s first artist-in-residence. Laurie was married to rock musician Lou Reed for 20 years. She lives in New York City.
My face used to hurt when I was a kid because my mom made my ponytail so tight that I was always smiling. It was an odd grimace.
But you were no ordinary kid…
I remember as a kid thinking if I was in a room he could read my mind. Recently I met a group of people who were analyzing sound waves hitting objects. I was very excited to see their results. It turns out I was right. Everything listens and everything reacts to everything else.
how was your father
He was very playful. The women in my life were teachers. They regimented us – “read this book, eat your dinner”. But my dad would say, “Let’s go get some ice cream.” I was like, wow, men are these playful, caring creatures.
And your mother?
She played the violin and was a great reader. I admired my mother a lot, but I didn’t like her. She didn’t like being a mother. She just always had a lot of children. In another time she would probably be the head of a company now. She was a wonderful organizer. She was not a warm person and had never been in a family situation. So she didn’t know how to do it. But I wouldn’t blame her for a second.
What was it like growing up with seven siblings?
We rode around the room on roller skates and got to know the world using a huge map. We did plays and we did drawings. We had to make our own entertainment. We weren’t allowed to have television.
How do you find aging?
i love being old It’s awesome. And I’m lucky enough to be healthy, so that’s a really big deal. I get to the point faster, see my own motivations and structures better than before, feel less confused, less lost and can have more fun.
You’re so healthy – what’s your secret?
I do tai chi and meditation, but I think being happy probably contributes the most.
What was it like being married to Lou Reed?
There is nothing better than being married to an artist. It’s the greatest because you don’t have to explain anything. Why did it work? A million reasons. Lou didn’t live as long as me. He died at the age of 71 but he was very active in fixing things. If his knee fell out, he would fix it. He wouldn’t stand around and complain about it.
There was an inspirational call…
My studio is near the Hudson River and so is our condo. One day Lou called me when I was in the studio. He said, “Walk to your window because there’s a bunch of people sitting on the wing of an airplane on the river. You have to see that.” I ran to my window and there it was. [Sully had landed on the Hudson] I wrote a song about it. It was full of swear words.
Who do you admire and why?
I spent a lot of time with composer John Cage when he was 80. Many old people get bitter and angry and regretful, but John reminded me of a beautiful dog. So much happiness and openness. He was glad to be alive.
Best advice you give?
When young artists ask me how to decide what to do, I tell them it has to be two of those three things: fun, interesting, and lucrative. If it’s just one, don’t do it. But if you’ve chosen fun and interest five times in a row, you’ll have to choose lucrative. As an artist you have to earn a living.
Do you live by your own advice?
Not so often. I’m the type of person who always says, “Yeah, count me in.” I’m just having a really interesting, weird, good time. But I have a pen with an audio button and when I press it it says “No”. Sometimes I need a reminder to say no.
“The Art of Falling” – Laurie Anderson performs at the National Concert Hall on April 26; nch.ie
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/theatre-arts/laurie-anderson-on-the-joy-of-getting-older-marriage-with-lou-reed-and-seeing-sully-land-that-plane-on-the-hudson-41463229.html Laurie Anderson on the joy of aging, marrying Lou Reed and landing Sully on the Hudson