Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's that song about? (2)

Today's Song: O Superman (for Massenet), by Laurie Anderson.

What I Thought It Was About: You know, I don't even know where I got this song. It's just on my iTunes along with all the other songs; that's not uncommon for me as I'll put just about any song onto my iPod so long as I have room, which I almost do not anymore because I downloaded a bunch of Battlestar Galactica episodes just before the new season premiered, only to realize that they were just throwing that whole series down the garbage disposal.

The other day, I sat down to do a little writing and I clicked on O Superman (For Massenet) as the first song to listen to. I assumed the song would be about... Superman. Then I listened to it and thought okay, it's not about anything, it's techno. Then I thought it's about family. Then I thought... wait, is that airplane talk? Is this about 9/11? My final guess: it's about people wanting to avert 9/11.

Here's the song:

What it's actually about: The lyrics are mysterious: This is your Mother/...well you don't know me/ come the planes. Then there's a recitation of the US Postal Service credo. Laurie Anderson, the performance artist who created O Superman said it was about the Iran-Contra affair, but the song was released in 1981 and unless Anderson was part of Reagan's cabinet, she probably didn't know about the Iran-Contra Affair until 1986, when everyone in the world found out about it. Other people say it's about "nukes, computers, and the future," which is an odd interpretation for a song that mentions none of those. The song was a huge hit in England in 1982, rising up to number 2. The "Massenet" in the title is apparently a French composer who wrote the opera Le Cid, which had an aria in it called "O Souverain, o juge, o père," but that information is from Wikidiotpedia, so use at your own risk.

I have decided that it is a critique of American foreign policy not aimed at any one specific incident, and that Anderson ex post facto decided it was about something in particular.

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