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On traveling to Bjork's homeland

Angie Grant was a friend of mine in 9th grade. She had a blunt-cut died black bob and wore black and white striped tights with black Creepers. She stained her lip cherry red and idolized The Cure’s Robert Smith.

At 15 Angie had found a look. She’d created a strong visual that invited ridicule and attention. I admired her greatly. And when i found out a few years back she’d died a little piece of me too also left this world.

I was thinking of Angie Grant this past weekend as I traveled to Iceland for the first time. Angie gave me Bjork’s album Debut when we were high school kids. And it changed my world. It was one of those crystal-clear moments when you easily look back and remember finding a new world.

Bjork’s Debut was a sonic melting of Icelandic oddity with disco. In it she dissected the human race and sang love songs so vivid. Volcanoes and airplanes helped explain the enormity of her elfin heart. And her visual matched that voice! She knotted her hair and wore disco boots and mini-skirts. She was alien. She was like Angie Grant, unafraid to be a clown.

Sequential albums were also great events. On Post she orchestrated both techno-pop and old-school pop in neon colors. On Homogenic she donned a McQueen kimono and sang songs in honor of her children and trapped whales. In Dancer in the Dark, her acting debut, she won at Cannes and scored an Oscar nod. And she wore that swan dress.

Bjork’s albums have sold a little less with each release. But she’s still very much an influential musician and about to release a new album and embark on a tour. In San Francisco many year back I watched her show under the Bay Bridge. She donned spacewoman couture and belted love songs for aliens, Icelanders, and even Americans. She’s always been otherworldly and a definite acquired taste.

But on this flight from Reykjavik to NYC it all makes sense. Bjork took isolation and coupled it with Iceland’s amazing landscape, small-town vibe, and connection to animals. In it she made music, looks, and worlds from a blender of inspirations. She created another world and welcomed others not as odd to her party.

Bjork too, like Angie Grant, created a strong visual that invited ridicule and attention. I continue to admire them from afar.

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