Laurie Anderson's Nonesuch Debut Album, "Life on a String," Released 15 Years Ago

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Laurie Anderson released her Nonesuch Records debut album 15 years ago today, August 21, 2001. It's "sparse, haunted, intimate," said Rolling Stone of the album. "Laurie Anderson is a singer-songwriter of crushing poignance." With Life on a String, she turned her view inward, creating one of the most personal recordings of her career; she played violin on a record for the first time since her debut album, Big Science. Guest musicians include Bill Frisell, Lou Reed, and Van Dyke Parks. You can hear the album's title track here.

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Laurie Anderson released her Nonesuch Records debut album, Life on a String, 15 years ago today, August 21, 2001. It's "sparse, haunted, intimate," said Rolling Stone of the album. "Laurie Anderson is a singer-songwriter of crushing poignance." You can hear the title track, which closes the album, below.

Life on a String was Anderson's first recording of new music since Bright Red in 1994. Anderson, certainly the most heralded multimedia artist of her generation, has since released three albums on Nonesuch—Live in New York (2002), Homeland (2010), and the soundtrack to her new film Heart of a Dog (2015)—along with a 25th-anniversary reissue of her famed debut album, Big Science, in 2007.

With Life on a String, she turned her view inward, creating one of the most personal recordings of her career. Musically, the album's intensity is heightened by its spare sound. It draws both on the emotive power of strings—Anderson plays violin on a record for the first time since Big Science—and the rich variety of rhythmic beds she has created. The album, which Anderson co-produced with Hal Willner, includes guest appearances by Bill Frisell, Dr. John, Lou Reed, and Van Dyke Parks, among others.

Laurie Anderson, in describing her lyrical approach to the album, said, "I tried to make the language plain and observational. I tried to be simple. Just to say what I saw. It is dark. But I'm glad about that, because there are plenty of cheerful songs around."

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Laurie Anderson: "Life on a String" [cover] sq
  • Monday, August 22, 2016
    Laurie Anderson's Nonesuch Debut Album, "Life on a String," Released 15 Years Ago

    Laurie Anderson released her Nonesuch Records debut album, Life on a String, 15 years ago today, August 21, 2001. It's "sparse, haunted, intimate," said Rolling Stone of the album. "Laurie Anderson is a singer-songwriter of crushing poignance." You can hear the title track, which closes the album, below.

    Life on a String was Anderson's first recording of new music since Bright Red in 1994. Anderson, certainly the most heralded multimedia artist of her generation, has since released three albums on Nonesuch—Live in New York (2002), Homeland (2010), and the soundtrack to her new film Heart of a Dog (2015)—along with a 25th-anniversary reissue of her famed debut album, Big Science, in 2007.

    With Life on a String, she turned her view inward, creating one of the most personal recordings of her career. Musically, the album's intensity is heightened by its spare sound. It draws both on the emotive power of strings—Anderson plays violin on a record for the first time since Big Science—and the rich variety of rhythmic beds she has created. The album, which Anderson co-produced with Hal Willner, includes guest appearances by Bill Frisell, Dr. John, Lou Reed, and Van Dyke Parks, among others.

    Laurie Anderson, in describing her lyrical approach to the album, said, "I tried to make the language plain and observational. I tried to be simple. Just to say what I saw. It is dark. But I'm glad about that, because there are plenty of cheerful songs around."

    Journal Articles:Artist News

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