Tuesday, February 3, 2015

i am a bird now

Antony and the Johnsons took flight with the emotional annihilation of these transformative memories of devotion.   The group was formed after lead singer Antony Hegarty was awarded a grant by the New York Foundation for the Arts and began playing in clubs around the city.  Their eponymous debut and followup EP 'I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy' were released by David Tibet's Durtro label.  The EP caught the attention of Lou Reed who invited Hegarty to take part on his album 'The Raven' and the 'Animal Serenade' tour that followed.  

The band was signed to the Secretly Canadian independent label for the recording of 'I Am a Bird Now'.  The sessions featured  Antony and the Johnsons:      Antony Hegarty on production, organ, piano, and vocals;  Julia Kent on cello;  Jeff Longston on bass;  Maxim Moston on violin;  Doug Wieselman on saxophone;  and Parker Kindred on drums  (Track 7);           with    Devendra Banhart on guitar (Track 5) and vocals (Track 8);  Steve Bernstein and Paul Shapiro on horn;  John Bollinger on drums (Track 5);  Keith Bonner on flute;  Boy George on vocals (Track 5);  Todd Cohen on drums;  Danielle Farina on viola (Tracks 2 and 9);  Jason Hart on piano (Track 6);  Rainy Orteca on bass (Track 7);  Lou Reed on guitar and vocals (Track 7);   Rufus Wainwright on vocals (Track 6);  Joan Wasser on viola;  Julia Yasuda on Morse Code, vocals (Track 9);   and  Emery Dobyns on engineering and mixing.    The album cover is a photograph by Peter Hujar entitled "Candy Darling on Her Deathbed".  

Hegarty says:   "Everyone sings, and the first thing we do when we’re born is we cry out. And that cry contains the story of life. It contains that pain and joy, the ecstasy and despair, at times, of creation. And loneliness. When I’m crying out like that, it’s an opportunity for a journey for me. It can be quite spectral, especially when you’re performing in a big space and there’s a chasm that you’re giving into, that’s being observed by thousands of other people. It’s like a point of entry. It’s a way of engaging a kind of pure imagination. Everyone knows the sound of a baby’s cry, or the cry of a mother when a child dies. There are sounds that we make that are universal. In certain circumstances we will all howl, and crying out and singing with other people has been one of the main ways I’ve connected with the rest of humanity. I’m so grateful for that ability, to make sound, to call out."

'I Am a Bird Now' won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in September of 2005; after which the album made the jump from one hundred and thirty five to sixteen on British album charts.  The album also charted at number seventy one in Austria, sixty nine in Australia, fifty eight in the Netherlands, forty five in France, thirty eight in Denmark, twenty two in Sweden, and number four in Norway.  

Hegarty reflects:   "'I Am A Bird Now' was sort of thrust into every kitchen in the UK one morning, and it certainly wouldn’t have happened that way if it hadn’t been for the Mercury Prize. There was so much visibility to that initial project, and it was so helpful. Even more than just in the UK, it was helpful across Europe in validating me as an artist that people continue to engage on some level ... The music in it came from a time when I didn't have an audience and wasn't really writing for one. It was something... [pauses] It's hard to know what to call it. A growth from my heart. It was just growing out of me, these life expressions that I had to make. It was certainly a necessity in order to survive...But the source of the songs... some of them were very lonely places, very solitary places. Then they wound their way into all sorts of contexts and forums as my visibility grew...I mean, I can see the chain of things that happened to open up that window in culture... [pauses] but I don't know why that happened. It was a great boon in my life, in a weird way. It was like a sea change... I think, with music in general, people just inevitably connect with feeling. The opportunity to hear expressed feeling. That's what has always drawn me towards music. It's something where, by connecting to someone else's voice, I feel less lonely. I feel more alive. I feel more connected to the world and to the rest of humanity. Sometimes a voice can be like a lifeline."

"Hope There's Someone"

"You Are My Sister" (with Boy George)

"Fistful Of Love" (with Lou Reed)

"Bird Guhl"

'I Am a Bird Now'
full album:

All songs written and composed by Antony Hegarty. 

1. "Hope There's Someone" 4:21
2. "My Lady Story" 3:33
3. "For Today I Am a Boy" 2:36
4. "Man Is the Baby" 4:09
5. "You Are My Sister" 3:59
6. "What Can I Do?" 1:40
7. "Fistful of Love" 5:52
8. "Spiralling" 4:25
9. "Free at Last" 1:36
10. "Bird Gerhl" 3:14

Live at Malta Festival, Poland (2006)

1. One Dove
2. Cripple and the Starfish
3. Man Is The Baby
4. My Lady Story
5. For Today I Am A Boy
6. Spiralling
7. You Are My Sister
8. The Lake
9. Twilight

10. Hope There's Someone

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