Alan Dunn: The Sounds of Ideas Forming, Volume 4 – Leaving

Alan Dunn, radio-artist and assistant professor at the Leeds Beckett University, is one of our regular contributors. As an assistant professor he is involved in comunal projects and workshops of which the result is, often, a gesamtkunstwerk of audio and sculpture, or a radio-play. Examples of these works are broadcasted by us on an irregular basis.


As a radio-artist he contributes with collages, but of such quality that the nominator ‘collage’ should be extended to works of art, that are completely made of borrowed pieces of music and spoken word, resulting in a composition that opens up to the artist’s vision and taste. The Sounds of Ideas Forming, episode 4 is a masterpiece and shows Alan’s approach at its best.


Based on two lines of the iconic John Denver song ‘leaving on a jet plane’ “My bags are packed, I’m ready to go” Alan Dunn captures the breaking point of the late 1960s US naive optimism, its spirit of love and peace and the sadness of the approaching awareness, that soon everything will be over.

If one likes to listen with a narrative, imaginative ear, one can hear how Alan succeeded in exposing the silences of that notion. In his one hour radio piece he transports the song from the sunny days of Californian’s free spirit to England’s grim face of deserted shopping malls on a rainy autumn day.


And all this he achieves by using numerous covers of the song, slowing down, insert repetitions, fragments of radio news and epic themes that make you think a fleet of haunted ships is nearing the coast of Albion.

Listen again and again.

Alan’s words:

“A sad composition about people leaving, built from only these two lines:

>>My bags are packed, I’m ready to go<<

May feature: Justin Bieber, John Peel, Michael Stipe & Natalie Merchant, J Mascis, Byrds, John Denver, Monkees, New Order, Mamas & Papas, Judy Collins and the Kingston Trio.”

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