Laurie Anderson

Big Science

Song Review by

As with all the compositions on Laurie Anderson’s debut LP Big Science (1982), the title track comes from a larger four-plus hour stage show titled United States I -- IV. Her blend of neo-classical, pop culture and abstract post-modern performance art is best understood by actually experiencing the piece in real time. The “United States” project deals with communication in Anderson’s unique blend of dadaist images and humour. A careful analysis of her words and performance style reveals little in terms of plot or repeated motifs. Although not explicitly stated, one common interpretation of “Big Science” consists of the various methods in which scientific methodology is used, abused and perverted in language as well as in the understanding of what it outwardly accomplishes. Is this Anderson’s stated elucidation? Perhaps … perhaps not. The lyrics feature a conversation in which directions “to town” are given via a series of concurrently undeveloped and unrealised landmarks -- ultimately rendering the information useless. This too may be the irony of the futility of “Big Science” and its under realized accomplishments. In addition to the studio recording, a live performance was included on the multi-disc set United States Live (1984) -- documented during a three-night stand (Feb. 7 -- 10, 1983) at the Academy Of Music in Brooklyn, New York. This set was likewise the impetus for Big Science from which all the material for that studio LP was drawn.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Big Science 1982 Nonesuch 6:14
Talk Normal: The Laurie Anderson Anthology 2000 Warner Archives / Rhino 6:24