Susan Sontag, electro lyricist

Susan Sontag, long suspected of being a Fischerspooner fan, contributed lyrics to a song for the recently released Odyssey before her death late last year. The electro aficionados in the Maud household tell us that the Sontag collaboration is one of the album’s clear standouts.

Here’s some backstory from the Fischerspooner site:

“When I approached Susan, it was September 2003,” says Casey [Spooner, one of the group’s members], “I went to her house and had this fantasy that we would pick something to work on together from my note book of ideas.” Instead, after a brief discussion, she disappeared into her library and returned fifteen minutes later with a printed sheet of lyrics titled ‘We Need A War’. “I read them and said ‘I don’t think I can say the word ‘war.’ I’m not comfortable saying it.” Sontag responded, “You need to get comfortable saying the word war. Your president approved eighty billion dollars for a war in Iraq yesterday.”

Cue debate about the validity of political art — and writers’ political statements more generally.

As for my own response to Fischerspooner, well, I’m basically a typical American electrophobe. There are exceptions: who doesn’t love the Pet Shop Boys? New Order, Joy Division and Dead or Alive put together some good tunes. It’s impossible to deny the talent of recent acts like Outkast, M.I.A. and Chromeo.

But Diplo? I’d sooner spend the day in the Everglades without mosquito repellent than listen to that. What little I’ve heard of Fischerspooner has made almost no impression on me. And I don’t get Kraftwerk. Not at all.

Give me some guitars and screaming vocals and the kind of heart-pounding riffs you’ll find on old Heart and AC/DC and Led Zeppelin recordings, and I’ll wear your t-shirt. (Once upon a time, I had posters for The Cult and Van Halen hanging over my bed.)

And if you can throw in some brooding, arguably overwritten lyrics — I used to worship Elvis Costello — so much the better.

My preferences cause some, um, friendly debate in the Maud household, where the overlap in musical tastes comes in at about 50%, and where differences of this kind have more practical ramifications than they might for most couples. You see, Mr. Maud composes his own electronic music, which I like and support even though my contributions to certain songs will almost certainly land me on a government watchlist.

(I’m trying to tell you that I sometimes sing electro, or whatever the kids are calling it these days, under a stage name that’s really a Miami street I used to live on. Can we still be friends?)


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