Friday, August 20, 2010

Thank You For Your Love

I first heard that voice on a Lou Reed record, The Raven LP, a reworking of "Perfect Day," vocals uncredited. It was 2003, in retrospect a pitch black year for me. I heard an old black man crooning in a register nearer Sylvester with the pacing of a soul diva. The music soothed me and also kept me on pins and needles.
When I Am a Bird Now arrived, it marked Antony Hegarty as the last of Warhol's Superstars -- Candy Darling blessing us from her hospital bed on the cover -- a legend already born.

The back story, as back stories always are, is far more complicated.
In an interview once, Antony described the emptiness of New York in the late 1980s and early 90s when AIDS had taken out an entire milieu. Dreams of arriving like Lance Loud, proud and welcomed into the arms of queens and freaks gave way to reality. Andy was dead, "Wonton & The Turtle gone, slowly slip away" as Lou once sang. Hegarty, instead became an angel in america, founding a new kind of factory with Blacklips in downtown Manhattan where Reed lives. Freak folks in Brooklyn joined forces, toured, recorded, and one by one came out of the woodwork with Antony & The Johnsons.
For me, it is a story of rebuilding a collective culture after a terrible plague without forgetting, without despair, but still pushing forward, seeking a third sex.
I saw them at Seattle's On the Boards in 2005 with Devandra Banhart, Noah Georgeson, & CoCoRosie; at times quiet, intense, hypnotic, floating like radio signals above the audience. It also felt like it could shatter but never did. I felt the same way.
Hegarty draws from Warhol, Nina Simone, Bowie, Diamanda Galas and a Trans Self to make sound & vision like a bright soul from another galaxy; a comet streaking across the hemispheres slowly, gracefully.
The video above is a new song, "Thank You for your Love," from an upcoming release called Swanlights on Secretly Canadian Records.
All the characters in it are Antony filmed in New York City in the 1990s.

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