Taking her cue from "On Desbrosses Street," the third piece from The Crossing's recording of Michael Gordon's choral work Anonymous Man, Tune-Yards lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus conjures up a vision of New York City that resides firmly in the early hip-hop rhythms of 1981.
"I chose drum sounds from the Oberheim DMX, which was released in 1981, where this story begins," Garbus explains. "We lived in the Bronx in 1981. I was two-and-a-half years old. I have since learned about how hip-hop was born at the other end of Sedgwick Avenue from where my grandparents lived. I've been thinking a lot about multiple realities; how I was being raised as a white, sort-of-Jewish kid, soon to move to the suburbs, far from the lives and reality and brilliance that was birthing a new culture in those years. So to live in yet another reality from New York in 1981 was very moving."
Gordon himself has referred to Anonymous Man as his own tribute to New York City in the form of a memoir. "The piece is built around my memories of moving into my loft on Desbrosses Street, meeting my future wife for the first time there, and conversations I've had with two men who made their home on the loading dock across the street.”