|A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE SONGS |
All songs are linked to RealAudio files.
was based loosely on a newspaper article about the design concepts behind the Disney theme parks where danger has been defanged and cultural diversity is celebrated as cultural kitsch. I'm also having a little fun both lyrically and musically. Disneyland is too easy a target to treat in deadly earnest. I offer the song as an antidote to "We are the World" sentimentality. As Milan Kundera once wrote: "The brotherhood of man on earth will be possible only on a base of kitsch."
Fever (La Lune) is a tiny lyric, but a rather big song. It's a delirious but sober, feverish but cool, howling at the moon.
In the Mirror originated from a specific reference, a drawing by the turn-of-the-century Austrian artist Egon Schiele in which a female nude stands before a mirror, the artist seen reflected as well with pencil and paper in hand. It is, at least some of the time, my stance as a writer and photographer, to observe the world as reflected in a mirror, framed and two-dimensionally described.
written in 1979, was a stylistic breakthrough for me. For the first time I left myself entirely out of a song, choosing instead to build a visual and aural scene, a passing moment in a story that is left to the imagination. It sounds like a New York song, but it depicts a fictional 24-hour diner in Washington, D.C. That's where the address 14th and T is, an area bordering on white Northwest and black Northeast Washington.
The Danger and Burn Burn Burn were both written out of romantic frustration mixed with reverie. Although they are more directly heart-on-the-sleeve than Fever (La Lune), the songs, nevertheless, take on slightly comic tones in the exaggerated repetitions of "the danger, the danger," and "burn burn burn."
In 1982 I wrote The Swan, a song about lost love and lost opportunity. "She fell in love at last and flew away/Through a looking glass some folks say." The music was loosely interpreted from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," by way of a Public Image Limited song of the same name--not that you can really tell. Five years went by after writing THE SWAN before I completed another song.
Cities on the Aerial Paths of Communication, written in 1990, is about the fall of the Soviet Union. After the 1917 Russian revolution, artists, writers and architects sought to build a new utopian society. This era of creative freedom was intense but short lived, and by the 1930's it was crushed by the brutality of Stalin. In 1928 Georgi Krutikov, an architecture student, created a series of drawings off futuristic flying cities, or "Cities on the Aerial Paths of Communication." In the song, the utter and unredeemable failure of the Soviet Union contrasts starkly with the early visions of the "dreamers of a bright and shining world." In recording the song, I asked violinist Lisa Gutkin to play a dissonant elegy as if alone in Red Square.
Old Factory Town was written about Waterbury, Connecticut, the former "brass city." All the factories are gone now, as in so many northeast cities. Like Open All Night, the song is another experiment in description and narrative restraint. The setting is the story. The outer images evoke the characters' inner world. In the recording, listen for Suzanne Vega's whispery shadow vocal hovering above mine.