Artist and storyteller Laurie Anderson doesn’t like to be boxed in

Artist and storyteller Laurie Anderson doesn’t like to be boxed in

“Boxes are… limiting,” performer and musician Laurie Anderson told 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper while sitting in a room surrounded by her work.

The avant-garde artist’s exhibition titled “The Weather” is currently on display at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on 60 Minutes, Laurie Anderson said it’s difficult to categorize her creative life.

“With a gun to my head, I say I tell stories,” Anderson said. “And those look like paintings sometimes. They look like, you know, songs. They look like films. They’re just stories.”

Of all the stories Laurie Anderson has told, perhaps none gained more global recognition than her 1981 hit record “O Superman.” She calls the eight-minute song “a prayer.” 


How Laurie Anderson recorded her hit song “O Superman”

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Laurie Anderson said the song was inspired by the United States military’s failed attempt to rescue American Iran hostages in April 1980, Operation Eagle Claw. Eight members of the U.S. armed forces died in the operation.

“This was a song basically about how technology cannot save you,” Anderson told 60 Minutes.

Laurie Anderson said she originally recorded the song using money from a grant and guessed she had about a hundred records laying around her apartment when a British DJ called and requested 80,000 records to be delivered within a week.

The request led Anderson to ask Warner Bros. for help fulfilling the order. It also led to her signing an eight-record deal with the label.

“O Superman” reached number two on the British charts in October 1981.

You can watch Laurie Anderson perform alongside cellist Rubin Kodheli and flutist Tenzin Choegyal at a 2022 virtual benefit concert for the Tibet House U.S. below.


Laurie Anderson performs for Tibet House US

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The videos above were originally published on April 3, 2022 and were produced by Keith Zubrow and Sarah Shafer Prediger. They were edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.

Additional footage of “The Weather” exhibition provided by the “Hirshhorn Museum.”

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