When the world is as confusing as ours is these days, when we're inundated with information to such a degree that it becomes almost impossible to pick out individual messages from the overall cacophony of noise, the temptation to accept simplistic answers as the solution to our problems is almost irresistible. When you spend your day worrying about work, what the kids are up to at school, how far the money is going to stretch this month, it's such a relief when somebody can give you an easy to understand explanation as to what's wrong with the world. When white is white and black is black you don't have to think and you can let those who know best get on with making sure everything will turn out all right in the end.
The simple life: where global warming, the economy, terrorism, wars in foreign countries, and disease aren't things you have to concern yourself with. Things can't be that bad after all if it's business as usual? The shelves are still filled with stuff for us to buy and the airwaves filled with people telling us what we should buy and why. There's nothing to worry about say the newscasts, a correction, a minor setback, an outbreak far away, and it's all under control now. Anyway, it was somebody else's fault and it would have never happened if "we" had been in charge, but now we are so it's all going to be okay. So sit back and listen to somebody sing sincerely about nothing, watch an explosion of colour in high definition that means nothing, push your needle of choice into your veins from what's being offered up these days as the opiate that will help keep you from noticing the world is going to hell in a fucking hand basket. It's all designed to make you deaf, blind, and voiceless.
What does any of this have to do with Laurie Anderson's latest CD release, Homeland, on Nonesuch Records? Nothing and everything. Nothing in that she's nothing like what I've described above, and everything because she is everything an artist should be in times like these. Anderson is not what you would call your standard popular musician; in fact it does her a disservice to even consider the work she does in the same breath as popular music. Yes, she writes music and lyrics to accompany it, but what she creates has as much to do with popular music as the words inside a Hallmark card have to do with poetry. Her husband, and co-producer of Homeland, Lou Reed, struck to the heart of the matter with his comment regarding the disc in the documentary, Homeland: The Story Of The Lark, part of the bonus DVD included with the CD: "The more intelligent you are, the more you'll get out of it."