NEW WORK: You’ll Just Have to Take My Word for It

Sometime last year when I was at the Times R&D lab, we stumbled upon the Boston Globe’s coverage of Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray and his spectacular car crash. The crash had occurred under somewhat questionable circumstances, and Murray had not been forthcoming with any real explanation of how exactly he came to completely total his vehicle in the middle of the night and emerge totally unscathed. That in itself — politicians involved in sketchy shit — was not particularly notable. But the release of the black box data from the government-issued Crown Victoria was remarkable, both for the data itself and the role the data came to have in the story of the incident. Data are supposed to be objective, and the thought was that the black box would shed light on what really happened that night — but of course it just led to more questions.

I am very interested in how we re-perform data, in various ways, restoring the liveliness to what is supposedly an objective distillation of just the facts. I had the opportunity to write a piece for members of the Quiet City new music ensemble. I figured this might be an interesting subject to take on — could I write a piece that pulled directly from the data? What would having virtuosic musicians perform the piece do to embody this story in a different way? You’ll Just Have to Take My Word for It is the result. I’m pleased with it, I hope people appreciate the humor in it. Have a watch and let me know.

Featuring Steven Leffue on saxophone, Steve Cohen and Luke Schwartz on guitars.