In a video pulled from her 1990 performance, Empty Places, the Anderson persona leans toward us, her Statue of Liberty spiked hair framing one of those planed faces that fashion photographers love (but animated by a cheer and intelligence never seen in fashion spreads), her aspect a bit mock-solemn, a bit faux-naive, her voice a richly modulated mezzo, her diction precise and nuanced. Hers is a grownup voice, and she invites us to share the joke:Let X=X:
"You know, I'd have to say my all-time favorite song is probably the US national anthem. It is hard to sing though, with all those arpeggios. I mean you're out at the ballpark and the fans are singing away and it's sort of pathetic watching them try to hang on to that melody."
She seems to stop and think. "The words are great, though - just a lot of questions written during a fire. Things like:
'Q: Hey? Do you see anything over there?
A: I dunno...there's a lot of smoke.
Q: Say! Isn't that a flag?
A: Hmmmm...couldn't say really, it's pretty early in the morning.
Q: Hey! Do you smell something burning?'
"I mean, that's the whole song! It's a big improvement over most national anthems though, which are in 4/4 time: 'We're number one! This is the best place!'" She's marching, puffing, and posturing, capturing and demolishing the jingoism that underlies every national anthem you can think of. Then she stops, as if struck by a new thought.
"I also like the B side of the national anthem - 'Yankee Doodle.' Truly a surrealist masterpiece." She phrases the familiar words carefully and you hear them again for the first time: "Yankee Doodle came to town. Riding on a pony. Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni." Now, if you can understand this song, you can understand anything that's happening in the avant-garde today."
From "Home of the Brave," Sharkey's Day: