Essential New Music: Laurie Anderson’s “Heart Of A Dog”


As the soundtrack to the dreamily experimental, 75-minute home movie of the same name, the Laurie Anderson-directed Heart Of A Dog is the composer/performance doyenne’s most oddly and satisfyingly conversational work. Along with presenting several of her most hauntingly elegiac melodies and softly supple instrumental contours, the movie’s soundtrack lyrically (and talkatively) embraces the life and passing of her beloved pup Lolabelle, as well as—in a more distant fashion—that of her husband (the legendary Lou Reed), her mother, artist Gordon MattaClark, as well as every last soul who passed on in tragedy on September 11, mere blocks from Anderson’s West Village homestead.

“Every love story is a ghost story,” says Anderson, quoting the late David Foster Wallace, as if to introduce her own blunt-yet-romanticized Poe-like tale of loss and adoration. One of the most poignant moments (on an album rich with them) is Anderson’s two takes on “The Lake,” an instrumental and its vocal partner. Here, she equates the passing of time with the ebb and fl ow of an eternal water and a musical interlude that is equally unforgettable.

—A.D. Amorosi