Well, Bang on a Can produced five or six of his pieces. So, at the end of his life, we knew him pretty well and he came to all of our concerts and he gave us money and we got to work with him really closely, because we produced his work.1 And I even went to his apartment in Chelsea once, which was really fun. I didn’t go inside. I had to deliver something to him. I can’t remember what it was, it was probably like a contract or something, and so I remember standing at his doorstep. But I would run into him at concerts, and I would chat with him, and I really — I loved him.
I mean he was such a great person, and he was really someone who had an open spirit, and he was not afraid to ask himself how far that open spirit should be stretched, and so that sort of went into every — every kind of action that he took was “Well, the boundaries that I’ve inherited for this particular action are like this. Why are they that way? Can they be further? Can I push these boundaries farther?” And I thought that spirit was really good. But personally one of the things I will always be happy for, that I will always remember, and for which I am completely in his debt forever, is that at the very first Bang on a Can festival, my mother who was very ill, and who died just a few months after Bang on a Can’s first festival in 1987, came to the first Bang on a Can festival.2
My parents came, my mom was really ill, she was in a really bad mood, and she hated that I was a musician, because she had never forgiven me for not going to medical school. And so, she went around to every single person who was over the age of 60 at the first Bang on a Can festival, and buttonholed them and asked them in a very hostile way “Why are you here? You seem like a reasonable person, you’re old, what are you doing here?” And so, at the very first Bang on a Can festival, my mom did that to everybody. She did it to Milton Babbitt, she did it to lots of people, just anybody.3 She just went up, and she was really angry, and she got into these really funny conversations with everybody, that I heard about from lots of people after it was over. But she did it to Cage, and the truth is he actually made her have a good time. So, he had a great conversation with my sick mom right before she died, and for that I’ll never forget him.4