Posts Tagged ‘David Byrne’

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The erstwhile Talking Heads frontman was behind one of the year’s most critically-acclaimed and beloved live tours, bringing a barefoot ensemble of untethered musicians onto stages across the world with a celebratory, career-spanning setlist. The tour took place on the back of what surprisingly ended up being one of the year’s more overlooked LPs in American Utopia, Byrne’s first proper solo endeavour in years. “House” was its lead single, and is filled with a classic sense of Byrnian paranoia and unease while simultaneously peppering in a sizzling horn section and head-voice, Sampha-assisted melodies. Long may the grand Byrne spectacle continue.

“The chicken thinks in mysterious ways,” David Byrne informs us on ‘Every Day Is A Miracle’, and you can’t argue with that. The Talking Heads hero turned in a record that, he claimed, was not named ironically – the 66-year-old genuinely still believes in the power of positivity, despite the onslaught of horror-show headlines. Here, he revels in wonder and astonishment at the beauty and bizarreness of the world around him, his wonky art-pop more skewed than ever. This left-field approach (some tracks sound like alternate universe show tunes) is best realised on ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’, an eccentric ode to the power of community.

Recorded on September 15th, 2018 at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY.

Setlist: 0:00 Here 4:18 Lazy 9:00 I Zimbra 12:11 Slippery People 16:59 I Should Watch TV 20:17 Dog’s Mind 24:28 Everybody’s Coming to My House 28:13 This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) 33:15 Once in a Lifetime 39:00 Doing the Right Thing 43:35 Toe Jam 48:55 Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) – with band intros 55:32 I Dance Like This 1:00:19 Bullet 1:03:52 Every Day Is a Miracle 1:08:48 Like Humans Do 1:12:35 Blind 1:17:54 Burning Down the House Encore 1: 1:25:28 Dancing Together 1:28:46 The Great Curve Encore 2: 1:36:30 Hell You Talmbout – with Merrill Garbus from tUnE-yArDs

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david byrne 1989

If mere mortals were as capable and accomplished as David Byrne then we would most definitely be having this conversation in this galaxy so far, far away!

David Byrne first introduced himself to the world in 1975 as the frontman of the American new wave pioneers, Talking Heads. Since their disbandment in 1991, he has released a prolific collection of solo albums and works across a broad range of media including film, photography, opera, fiction, non-fiction and theatre.

Here are some of the great moments in the career of an artist boasting limitless creativity, and an overwhelming passion to transform the world around him for all.

TRUE STORIES,

David Byrne made his debut on the big screen in 1986 when he wrote, directed and starred in True Stories. He described the film as ‘… an ode to the extraordinariness of ordinary American life …’, reviewers described it as ‘60 minutes on acid’ – proving that with David Byrne at the helm, even an exploration of the mundane is a potentially mind-bending experience!

To celebrate the anniversary of the film’s release,True Stories, A Film by David Byrne: The Complete Soundtrack will be released on vinyl LP, CD, and digital formats on November 23rd

AMERICAN UTOPIA

Released earlier this year, American Utopia is a celebration of euphoria designed to remind us of all that’s good in the world. The first single, “Everybody’s Coming to My House” was co-written with longtime collaborator and all-round musical superhero, Brian Eno.

“The chicken imagines a heaven, full of roosters and plenty of corn,” sang David Byrne on Everyday Is A Miracle, an avian highlight from this, his first solo album since 2004. Though it isn’t quite the accessible treat some were anticipating, for others, American Utopia is one of Byrne’s best; heavily electronic, the record boasts production by Thomas Bartlett, Daniel Lopatin and Rodaidh McDonald, among others, and there are pleasing touches of the global, electronic funk Byrne has regularly released on his Luaka Bop label. The likes of Gasoline And Dirty Sheets might bounce along on a sturdy dancehall beat, but much of American Utopia is a wry reflection of the times we live in: Bullet is a joyous song about a brutal shooting, for example, while I Dance Like This moves suddenly between pretty piano verses and industrial choruses. More than poultry thrills here, it turns out.

“These songs attempt to describe the world we live in now—and that world, when we look at it, as we live in it, as it impacts on us – immediately commands us to ask ourselves – is there another way? A better way? A different way?

ABORETUM

Since the 1990’s, David Byrne’s visual art has been shown in contemporary art galleries and museums around the world.  In 2006, his sketchbook of tree drawings titled, Arboretum was published, featuring a decade’s worth of “mental maps of imaginary territory” earning him the title of ‘visual philosopher’ in the art community.

LOVE THIS GIANT

David Byrne has released an extensive range of experimental collaborations with cutting-edge female artists. One shining example is the brazen album, Love This Giant(2012), written and recorded with St. Vincent. The formidable pair of alt-art-rockers combine dissonant textures and eclectic, juxtaposing, melodic hooks to create an immersive but challenging work unlike anything else in either musician’s prior solo efforts.

TALKING HEADS 

In 1974 Byrne moved to New York City with a dream of starting a band. He was joined by friend, Chris Frantz and his girlfriend Tina Weymouth who would become the band Talking Heads by 1975.

The group found themselves at the forefront of the new wave movement that was bubbling up in New York’s underground music scene, setting themselves apart and defining an era with their refined, minimalist sound, slick suits and intellectual overtones.

MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS 

During his time in Talking Heads, Byrne also took on a number of outside projects. In 1979 he collaborated with Brian Eno on an album titled, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts which attracted considerable critical acclaim due to its early use of analogue sampling and found sounds that would form the basis of modern-day electronica.

CYCLING 

Motivated by the freedom and exhilaration, David Byrne is an avid cycling enthusiast. In 2008 he designed a series of bicycle parking racks that were later sold as artworks, featuring images corresponding with their locations. He has also written widely on the subject in his 2009 non-fiction book, Bicycle Diaries.

THE SIMPSONS 

In 2003, Byrne set a benchmark for cameos when he guest starred as himself on The Simpsons in an episode titled, ‘Dude, Where’s My Ranch?’ for which he penned and performed the classic number, ‘Everybody Hates Ned Flanders’.

HERE LIES LOVE 

In late 2005, Byrne teamed up with electronic artist, Fatboy Slim to produce, Here Lies Love, a disco opera about the life of Imelda Marcos, the controversial former First Lady of the Philippines. Some music from this piece was debuted at Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia in February 2006.

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

Obama was on his way out, Trump was on his way up, and Byrne wanted to alleviate the gloom by collating stories of positive change from around the world. Playing the part of a dapper academic with his sharp grey suit and shock of white hair, David Byrne presenting a slide show of uplifting human stories designed to remind audiences of all the Reasons to be Cheerful.

With a dedication to making the world a better place at the heart of all of his projects, David Byrne is a rare and true example of the highly evolved. The artist has dedicated his life’s work to looking on the bright side and asking if things can be done differently – for the better of all.

American Utopia

“The chicken imagines a heaven, full of roosters and plenty of corn,” sang David Byrne on Everyday Is A Miracle, an avian highlight from this, his first solo album since 2004. Though it isn’t quite the accessible treat some were anticipating, for others, American Utopia is one of Byrne’s best; heavily electronic, the record boasts production by Thomas Bartlett, Daniel Lopatin and Rodaidh McDonald, among others, and there are pleasing touches of the global, electronic funk Byrne has regularly released on his Luaka Bop label. The likes of Gasoline And Dirty Sheets might bounce along on a sturdy dancehall beat, but much of American Utopia is a wry reflection of the times we live in: Bullet is a joyous song about a brutal shooting, for example, while I Dance Like This moves suddenly between pretty piano verses and industrial choruses. More than poultry thrills here, it turns out.

This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” is a song by the band Talking Heads, released in November 1983 as the second single from their fifth album Speaking in Tongues. The lyrics were written by David Byrne, and the music was written by Byrne and the other members of the band, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison.

Here are three different covers of a beloved song “different” because part of the fun is showcasing how artists that, in theory, are very different nonetheless share the same influences. three pretty slick covers of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” . It’s a song that David Byrne has described as a long song:

“That’s a love song made up almost completely of non sequiturs, phrases that may have a strong emotional resonance but don’t have any narrative qualities. It’s a real honest kind of love song. I don’t think I’ve ever done a real love song before. Mine always had a sort of reservation, or a twist. I tried to write one that wasn’t corny, that didn’t sound stupid or lame the way many do. I think I succeeded; I was pretty happy with that.”

it was a full-blown love song. [..] With “This Must Be the Place”, the band simplified their sound dramatically, condensing their sonic palette to the level of small EKG blips (having switched instruments for a lark, this was nearly all they were able to reliably deliver chops-wise) and wringing out only a few chords.”

Throughout the Stop Making Sense version, Byrne and his bandmates perform by a standard lamp, while close-up images of various body parts are projected onto a screen behind them. As revealed on the commentary to the film, the body parts belong to Byrne and his girlfriend (later wife) Adelle Lutz who was also known as Bonnie. When the song reaches a bridge, the musicians step back and Byrne dances with the lamp, a reference to Fred Astaire’s similar dance with a coat-rack in the film Royal Wedding. During the song, Weymouth is seen playing a rare Fender Swinger electric guitar, instead of her usual bass.

We have different studio recorded versions of the tune including a somewhat orchestral take on the tune by Kishi Bashi; a shuffling, playful version by Sure Sure; and A stirring cover of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)”  a sweeping, pensive version by The Lumineers.

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And, if you’re looking for even more Naive Melody you can check out a few live versions of the tune by Car Seat Headrest & Naked Giants , Arcade Fire, Iron & Wine, and MGMT. Honestly, so many people have tackled this tune that this collection just scratches the surface. Enjoy!

The song was covered live by the Montreal-based band Arcade Fire, and is featured as the B-side to their single “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”. Their version features David Byrne on guest vocals.

Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses performed the song on their covers album Sing into My Mouth. The album’s title is from a lyric in the song.

And finally a nice cover from the excellent Scottish band Admiral Fallow

Released 35 years ago this month, Talking Heads’ SPEAKING IN TONGUES was the group’s commercial breakthrough following a trio of acclaimed albums with producer Brian Eno. The collection includes the quartet’s first Top Ten hit, “Burning Down The House,” the follow-up single “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” is  noteworthy. Atypically for the band, “it’s a real honest kind of love song,” said lyricist David Byrne. “I don’t think I’ve ever done a real love song before.” The melody is purposefully simple, with group members switching from their usual instruments to play it, and that simplicity may explain its popularity in soundtracks and cover versions. Cited by Pitchfork as one of the 50 best songs of the 1980s,

SONG OF THE DAY - This Must Be The Place

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To mark the release of David Byrne’s eagerly awaited American Utopia album, here are the former Talking Heads front man’s variegated and all-too-sporadic canon of solo and collaborative albums.

America Utopia is David Byrne’s first solo album in 14 years, and only his ninth studio LP since the break-up of Talking Heads in the late 1980s. Of those nine, four have been co-headlined with other artists: Brian Eno, Fatboy Slim and St Vincent. The emphasis has been on quality rather than quantity.

But Byrne has not been sitting on his hands. Along with lecture tours, writing books and operating his own Luaka Bop and Todo Mundo labels, he has composed extensively for cinema and the stage. Byrne has, in fact, notched up more soundtracks than he has own-name projects, from big budget Hollywood productions such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor through to scores for experimentalist ballet choreographers Twyla Tharp and Wim Vandekeybus. Some of his best soundtracks have, happily, been released on vinyl.

Born in Scotland in 1952, but resident in the US from 1960, David Byrne has been based in New York since 1974, where he co-formed Talking Heads a few years later. He has been at the cutting edge of the avant-music scene for four decades, an achievement equalled by only a handful of musicians, one of whom is Brian Eno.

Brian Eno/David Byrne – My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
(Sire LP, 1981)

Byrne first worked with Brian Eno in 1978, on Talking Heads’s More Songs About Buildings And Food, which Eno produced. The collaboration continued on My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Byrne’s first album outside Talking Heads. The music is an art-rock extension of Eno’s groundbreaking 1980 collaboration with the beyond-jazz trumpeter Jon Hassell, Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics, which wove together electronica, tape manipulation and found sounds with jazz, African, Asian and Middle Eastern roots musics. Ghosts is a high-water mark in both Byrne and Eno’s catalogues, with ‘The Jezebl Spirit’ becoming an unlikely Paradise Garage classic. Remarkably, the duo did not co-headline again until 2009’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

David Byrne  –  The Catherine Wheel
(Sire LP, 1981)

For a couple of years in the early 1980s, Byrne and the choreographer Twyla Tharp were an item. The Catherine Wheel, a patchwork of spacey electronica and earth-bound motor rhythms, is his score for Tharp’s Broadway-meets-ballet project of the same name, or to be precise, highlights from the score, which in theatrical performance runs for around 80 minutes. Like so much of Byrne’s stage and screen work, the music stands up well even when separated from the visuals. Alongside Byrne on vocals and guitars, contributing musicians include Brian Eno and Bernie Worrell on keyboards and synthesisers, drummer Yogi Horton and Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison.

David Byrne  –  Music For The Knee Plays
(ECM LP, 1985)

Another of Byrne’s notable theatrical partnerships during the 1980s was with the iconoclastic playwright and director Robert Wilson. Music For The Knee Plays is Byrne’s part of the score for Wilson’s epic opera The Civil Wars, which also included sections by Philip Glass and Gavin Bryars. Byrne’s 19-piece collective line-up of musicians is made up almost entirely of jazz and funk horn players and his arrangements, which reference revivalist New Orleans’s outfits such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, effectively evoke the American Civil War-era which contextualises Wilson’s production.

David Byrne – Music For The Knee Plays Rei Momo
(Luaka Bop LP, 1989)

Byrne’s first solo outing after the break-up of Talking Heads is a heady cocktail of mambo, rumba, samba, cumbia, son and cha-cha-cha. The line-up is dominated by Cuban and Nuyorican musicians, including star stylists Celia Cruz, Willie Colón and Johnny Pacheco, augmented by Byrne and fellow vocalist Kirsty MacColl, whose husband, Steve Lillywhite, produced the album. Respectful of the traditions it celebrates without being in thrall to them, Rei Momo is a delight.

David Byrne  –  Uh-Oh
(Sire LP, 1992)

An engaging but often overlooked entry in Byrne’s canon, Uh-Oh is his post-Talking Heads flashback – poppy tunes, intricate but dance-friendly rhythms and splashes of Africana and Latin Americana. In 1992, after such daring experiments as My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, The Catherine Wheel and Music For The Knee Plays, the album was widely perceived as unadventurous and anachronistic. With hindsight and the passage of years, its straight-talking charm is more apparent.

David Byrne –  Lead Us Not Into Temptation (Music From The Film Young Adam)
(Thrill Jockey LP, 2003)

Bleak but important, this is Byrne’s noir-soaked soundtrack for the film version of Young Adam, a 1954 novel about a murder on a Scottish river barge written by the minor Scottish Beat poet and major heroin user (and recruiting sergeant) Alexander Trocchi. Byrne’s arrangements for the string section, drawn from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, add appropriately bleak textures, which are periodically lightened by Scottish folk musicians, hurdy-gurdy player Alasdair Roberts and accordionist John Somerville. Possibly Byrne’s best-realised film score to date.

David Byrne/Brian Eno  –  Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
(Todo Mundo LP, 2009)

Three decades after the historic collaboration that was My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Byrne and Eno reunite for another high-scoring shot from left-field. What kept them? Most of the composing and recording was done by email exchange between Byrne in New York and Eno in London, and the production sets in-the-tradition gospel vocals, written and sung by Byrne, against emotionally neutral, electronic backing tracks, mostly arranged and played by Eno. If that sounds a bit semi-detached, it all, as Byrne would probably not say, starts making sense as soon as you spin the record. Eno next crops up as co-producer of ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’ on the upcoming American Utopia.

David Byrne & St Vincent  –  Love This Giant
(4AD LP, 2012)

And three decades after the brass-centric film score for Music For The Knee Plays, Byrne dips into that well again too, this time at the suggestion of singer-songwriter St. Vincent. Lyrically, the material is concerned with the idea of human transformation, as reflected in the prosthetically-enhanced cover photo. Love This Giant is an accomplished album, but one that is not quite greater than the sum of its parts. Byrne and Vincent’s respective takes on life and music, though delightfully quirky, are a little too similar to encourage each artist out of their comfort zones.

David Byrne  –  Live From Austin TX
(New West 2xLP, 2017)

Considering the many thousands of tour miles he has notched up over the years, there are relatively few live albums in Byrne’s catalogue – notable among them are Talking Heads’s Stop Making Sense from 1984 and a 2004 collaboration with Caetano Veloso, Live At Carnegie Hall (released in 2012 but not yet on vinyl). Live From Austin TX, recorded in 2001, goes some way towards plugging the gap, including as it does material from Talking Heads and Byrne’s solo catalogues. Made with an electric quartet augmented on most tracks by an acoustic string ensemble, it was well recorded by a local TV station.

American utopia

David Byrne’s new solo record, American Utopia, is released on Todomundo / Nonesuch Records. The album includes the track Everybody’s Coming To My House, co-written with Brian Eno, featuring contributions from TTY, Happa Isaiah Barr (Onyx Collective), Mercury Prize winner Sampha, and others. American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with Byrne’s vision for his series Reasons To Be Cheerful – an ongoing series curated by Byrne of hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures – named for the song by the late Ian Dury. Over the last year, Byrne has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that all either embody or identify examples of things that inspire optimism, such as a tech breakthrough, a musical act, a new idea in urban planning or transportation – something seen, heard, or tasted. Just as the album questions the current state of society while offering solace through song, the content of the series recognizes the darkness and complexity of today while showcasing alternatives to the despair that threatens us.

While David Byrne has collaborated on joint releases with Eno, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), and most recently St. Vincent over the past decade, American Utopia is Byrne’s first solo album since, 2004’s Grown Backwards, also on Nonesuch. American Utopia morphed during the writing and recording process, beginning with longtime collaborator Eno, and eventually growing to include collaboration with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Sampha, Savages) alongside a diverse cast of creative contributors including Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent producer, aka Doveman), Jack Peñate, and others. The album was recorded in New York City at David’s home studio, Reservoir Studios, Oscilloscope, XL Studios, and Crowdspacer Studio and in London at Livingston Studio 1

Advertisement for Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ single, 1977. Saw TH in Swindon, 1977, supporting Dire Straits

Classic performance at the Boarding House, San Francisco from 16th September 1978. Includes the entire KSAN-FM broadcast. Digitally remastered for enhanced sound quality. Byrne’s unholy pact with loathing is primed, funked and punked for the stoically impassioned, but in contrast to the detached state of suburbia up front, the band party hard with a deep sense of funk and engaged complexity. The set draws from their debut album Talking Heads ’77‘ and the follow-up ‘More Songs About Buildings And Food’ taking it all to the flaming crescendo of ‘No Compassion’.

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The eccentric David Byrne has just released another track from his forthcoming album “American Utopia”, titled “This Is That” The new song follows Byrne’s previous single “Everybody’s Coming To My House,” released alongside the announcement of Byrne’s first solo album since 2004’s Grown Backwards.

“This Is That” was co-written and produced by Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), due out March 9th on Todomundo / Nonesuch Records. The single is darkly simplistic, with beautiful ambient noises adding color to the song’s repeated musical formula. As with a lot of Byrne’s music, the lyrics are up for interpretation. The song follows a nonconsecutive narrative as Byrne changes his tone from past to present tense during the breakdown of the song, saying: “This is when, this is now, this is that, this is how … ”

Amidst sold-out shows in the UK and his new album’s high anticipation level, Byrne recently extended his world tour, now going till the end of August. David Byrne’s “This Is That,” from his album American Utopia.

We brought you the most welcomed news that the mercurial David Byrne would be releasing some new solo material this year in the form of his new album ‘American Utopia‘.

David Byrne will release his first solo album since 2004 on March 9th, called American Utopia. He has made albums with Eno, St. Vincent and Karl Hyde, but it’s his first solo album. It’s produced by The xx cohort Rodaidh McDonald and features guests, Jack Peñate, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jam City and Thomas Bartlett,  and its choreographed live shows to come, Byrne has suggested are “the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense.”

Talk about expectations. ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’ is Byrne at his best – melding acoustic textures, brass and Afrobeat textures with his trademark pop songwriting.

The Ex-Talking Heads frontman added to this news with some details about his World Tour and a further track ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’. He’s followed up these announcements with a brand new track which he debuted on Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6 Music show. New song ‘This Is That’ was a collaborative effort with Daniel Lopatin from Oneothrix Point Never adding value at every turn. The song speaks highly of what’s to come on American Utopia and sees Byrne in fine form.

David Byrne

David Byrne has announced a new solo album, “American Utopia”, set for release on March 9th via Todomundo/Nonesuch Records. The effort will mark the former Talking Heads frontman’s first full solo record since 2004’s Grown Backwards.

Byrne made the announcement in a presentation he gave today at New York’s New School, which was also broadcast live via his Facebook page and can be viewed below. The event came as part of Byrne’s Reasons to Be Cheerful series, in which he presents a number of optimistic findings he has uncovered over the past year.

“Is this meant ironically? Is it a joke?” Byrne writes in a press release of his new album’s title. “Do I mean this seriously? In what way? Am I referring to the past or the future? Is it personal or political? These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather attempt to depict the world we live in now. Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with that world—the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves—well, does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking.”

Byrne has shared a track from American Utopia, “Everybody’s Coming to My House,” which was co-written with Brian Eno . Byrne will also set out on a number of live dates in support of the record, including a run of Northeast US shows in March, appearances at 2018 fests like Coachella, Shaky Knees and New Jersey’s XPoNential, and a European tour this summer.

This is the key album in Talking Heads‘ evolution. Their first two albums were leading directly to ‘Fear of Music,’ which, with assistance from producer Brian Eno, manages to sound like the future. David Byrne paints a bleak picture lyrically, but musically the band has never been more inviting. “I Zimbra” and “Life During Wartime” were just the start. ‘Fear of Music”s success allowed them to take their musical exploration even further out the next time around, when they made their masterpiece.

One of the highlights “Life During Wartime” by The Talking Heads is as a sci-fi premise, scenes from a dystopian future that we will never have to encounter. Yet the urgency and immediacy of the band’s performance suggests that we are never very far from having to navigate our way with caution through streets that were once familiar; to reconsider the motivations of even our most familiar acquaintances; to literally run for our lives.

The band’s 1979 album Fear Of Music, the song is credited to all four group members (David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz.) That’s because the relentlessly grooving music came out of a jam session. To match the propulsive instrumental backing, Byrne came up with lyrics inspired by his then-home in the Alphabet City section of Manhattan. His view of urban life was that it did require savvy and survival instincts beyond the norm, even if it hadn’t yet degenerated into complete chaos.

Byrne’s vision of the future, as expressed to NME at the time of the record’s release, was striking in its accuracy: “There will be chronic food shortages and gas shortages and people will live in hovels. Paradoxically, they’ll be surrounded by computers the size of wrist watches. Calculators will be cheap. It’ll be as easy to hookup your computer with a central television bank as it is to get the week’s groceries.”

“Life During Wartime” plays like you’ve been dropped into the middle of a thriller where your next move might be your last; it’s thrilling and harrowing all at once. Byrne doesn’t waste any time setting up the stakes, as evidenced by the opening lines: “Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons/ Packed up and ready to go.” Within just the first verse, we find the narrator listening to gunfire and contemplating where to bury the bodies.

The lyrics do an excellent job of expressing how disorienting such a life might be, as the protagonist’s identity and even his physical looks are malleable. The comforts of life are replaced by the necessities: “I got some groceries, some peanut butter/ To last a couple of days/ But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no headphones/ Ain’t got no records to play.” The immortal lines “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco/ This ain’t no fooling around” were taken by some as a slam at disposable music, when in actuality it was a reference to how such a future would remove any chance for frivolity in daily existence.

As the song progresses, the protagonist gets more and more frantic, his paranoia and his reality practically inseparable. Yet we learn that he has a cohort in his adventures, and a brief break in the battle materializes: “You make me shiver, I feel so tender/ We make a pretty good team.” It’s short-lived, however, as the chase resumes and the music fades out before Byrne can even finish his tale, suggesting that there will be no more respites from this point forth.

“Life During Wartime” didn’t make much of a dent on the pop charts, but it did further cement the band’s status as one that could fuse innovation with accessibility; here was Armageddon disguised as a dance party. You can call the song ahead of its time, but it might be more accurate to say that the future described always seems to be a moment away from transpiring.

Talking Heads at the Electric Ballroom – London England – December 07th, 1979
This is one of the final concerts from the Fear of Music Tour, and among the last shows as the four-piece band. This is the first of two nights,

Fear of music…. What a fantastic collection of songs. Also a swan song for the worlds number one college band. Their sound at the time so raw musically and Byrnes lyrics so bereft of traditional constraint. At times, More like internal conversations to deal with unresolved issues….. Mind, Cities, Paper And the stand out track. Electric Guitar.

Setlist:  01 tuning 02 Artists Only 03 Stay Hungry 04 Cities 05 Paper 06 Mind 07 Heaven (false start) 08 Heaven 09 Electric Guitar 10 Air 11 Animals 12 Love > Building on Fire 13 Found a Job (beginning cut) 14 Memories Can’t Wait 15 Psycho Killer 16 tuning17 Encore: Life During Wartime

remain in light

“Remain in Light” is the fourth studio album by the Talking Heads, In January 1980, the members of Talking Heads returned to New York City after the tours in support of their 1979 critically acclaimed third album, Fear of Music, and decided to take time off to pursue personal interests. Byrne worked with Eno, the record’s producer, on an experimental collaboration named My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Jerry Harrison produced an album for soul singer Nona Hendryx at the Sigma Sound Studios branch in New York City; the singer and the location were later used during the recording of Remain in Light on Harrison’s advice. Husband and wife Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth discussed the possibility of leaving the band after the latter suggested that Byrne’s level of control was excessive. Frantz did not want the ending Talking Heads, and the two decided to take a long vacation in the Caribbean to ponder the state of the band. During the trip, the couple became involved in Haitian Vodou religious ceremonies and practiced with several types of native percussion instruments. In Jamaica, they socialized with the famous reggae rhythm section of Sly and Robbie.

Instead of the band writing music to Byrne’s lyrics, Talking Heads performed instrumental jam sessions without words using the Fear of Music song “I Zimbra” as a starting point.

Talking Heads’ contribution to the avant-punk scene they helped create was their emphasis on rhythm over beat. The Heads’ early songs pulsed, winding their way past jitteriness to achieve the compelling tension that defined a particular moment in rock & roll history such a moment when white rock fans wanted to dance so badly, and yet were so intimidated by the idea, that they started hopping straight up and down for instant relief. By 1978, punk and disco had divided the pop audience. What did Talking Heads do? They recorded Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.”

Despite David Byrne’s vocal restraint and certain puritanical tendencies in his lyrics to value work over pleasure (“Artists Only,” “Don’t Worry about the Government”), Talking Heads never stopped learning from the sensuous music that existed in a world parallel to theirs. On 1979’s Fear of Music, they made a defiant connection with funk and disco in “I Zimbra” and “Life during Wartime,” both of which aid in preparing us for Remain in Light’s startling avant-primitivism.
On Remain in Light, rhythm takes over. Each of the eight compositions adheres to a single guitar-drum riff repeated endlessly, creating what funk musicians commonly refer to as a groove. A series of thin, shifting layers is then added: more jiggly percussion, glancing and contrasting guitar figures, singing by Byrne that represents a sharp and exhilarating break with the neurotic and intentionally wooden vocals that had previously characterized all Talking Heads albums.

Though the tunes take their time (side one has just three cuts), nobody steps out to solo here. There isn’t any elaboration of the initial unifying riff either. Because of this, these songs resemble the African music that the band has taken great pains to acknowledge as Remain in Light’s guiding structure.

In addition to its African influences, Remain in Light also flashes the ecstatic freedom of current American funk, across which any number of complex emotions and topics can roam. In both “Born under Punches (the Heat Goes On)” and “Crosseyed and Painless,” the rhythm lurches about while always moving forward, thrust ahead by the tough, serene beat of the bass and percussion. Throughout, instruments are so tightly meshed that it’s often difficult to pick out what you’re hearing—or even who’s playing. As part of their let’s-rethink-this-music attitude, Talking Heads occasionally play one another’s instruments, and guests as disparate as Robert Palmer and Nona Hendryx are enlisted.  Far from being confusing, however, such density contributes greatly to the mesmerizing power exerted by these elaborate dance tunes.

Though you can follow, to some extent, the story lines of, say, “Listening Wind” (in which an Indian stores up weaponry to launch an assault on plundering Americans) and the spoken fable, “Seen and Not Seen,” Remain in Light’s lyrics are more frequently utilized to describe or embody abstract concepts. Thus, beneath the wild dance patterns of “Crosseyed and Painless,” there lurks a dementedly sober disquisition on the nature of facts that culminates in a hilarious, rapidly recited list of characteristics (“Facts are simple and facts are straight/Facts are lazy and facts are late… “) that could go on forever —and probably does, since the song fades out before the singer can finish reading what’s on the lyric sheet. Elsewhere, strings of words convey meaning only through Byrne’s intonation and emphasis: his throaty, conspiratorial murmur in “Houses in Motion” adds implications you can’t extract from lines as flyaway as “I’m walking a line— I’m thinking about empty motion.”

In all of this lies a solution to a problem that was clearly bothering David Byrne on Fear of Music: how to write rock lyrics that don’t yield to easy analysis and yet aren’t pretentious. Talking Heads’ most radical attempt at an answer was the use of da-daist Hugo Ball’s nonsense words as a mock-African chant in “I Zimbra.” The strategy on Remain in Light is much more complicated and risky. In compositions like “Born under Punches” and “Crosseyed and Painless,” phrases are suggested and measured, repeated and turned inside out, in reaction to the spins and spirals of their organizing riff-melodies.

Once in a while, the experiments backfire on the experimenters. Both “The Great Curve” and “The Overload” are droning drags, full of screeching guitar noise that’s more freaked-out than felt. Usually, however, the gambler’s aesthetic operating within Remain in Light yields scary, funny music to which you can dance and think, think and dance, dance and think .

The album featured the new Talking Heads – a multi-personnel band with added percussionists, backing vocalists and guitarist Adrian Belew, who put the wah-wah pedal to its most tasteful use since Jimi Hendrix. The difference was noticeable immediately. Talking Heads songs had always been monologues in the past, but now there were two or three different vocal sections contrasting perspectives on the same issues.

The music was funkier, with more embellishments than before, and ‘Remain in Light’ represented a completely new approach, rather than an alteration of the old one. The album’s most striking track was ‘Once In A Lifetime’ which – with the help of a dramatically simple and effective video – became the band’s first British top 20 single. Talking Heads toured around the world with their extended line-up.