Favorites: Talking Heads (1984-1987)

1983, SPAC

Frantz, Weymouth, Harrison, Byrne
More of my J. Eric Smith-inspired Favorite Songs by Favorite Bands, an impossible task I’m doing anyway.

I saw Talking Heads on their stop at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, north of Albany, NY in 1983. It was of the two or three best concerts I’ve seen in my lifetime. Oddly, I have never seen, in its entirety, the well-regarded Stop Making Sense movie made from that tour.

The then-current album in 1983 was Speaking in Tongues. It’s the only album of theirs I have on both vinyl and compact disc. Interestingly, the tracks have different running times, with the cuts on the CD going longer. It was one of those gimmicks that record companies were using at the time to get people to buy into the new CD technology. It remains my favorite album by the group.

Eventually, I acquired all of the studio albums on vinyl. My only CD, besides SiT, is the 1992 compilation Sand in the Vaseline. Here’s a quiz I did some years ago, based on their songs.


Mu: Wild Wild Life.
Lambda: Slippery People. “How do you do?”
Kappa: City of Dreams.
Iota: Blind.
Theta: This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody). “I guess I must be having fun.” This is a song that takes me back to a specific time and place in upstate New York.
Eta: Psycho Killer Qu’est-ce que c’est

Zeta: Take Me to the River . If I were ever to sing Karaoke, it might be this version of the Al Green classic.
Epsilon: Crosseyed and Painless. The album Remain in Light is an aural canvas, and picking a “favorite song” is difficult.
Delta: Making Flippy Floppy. “Nothing is complete.” I love saying the repeated FL sound.
Gamma: Burning Down the House . “I’m…an…or..din.ar..y..guy.” Yeah, right. The first single from SiT.
Beta: Road to Nowhere. ‘Give us time to work it out.” “I wanted to write a song that presented a resigned, even joyful look at doom,” recalls David Byrne.
Alpha: Once in a Lifetime. “My God, what have I done?!” The lead single from Talking Heads’ fourth studio album, Remain in Light. The inspiration from Afrobeat is apparent.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Favorites: Talking Heads (1984-1987)”

  1. My fave Heads album, by a long margin, is “Fear of Music.” That one and “Remain in Light” are the only two I still listen to very often anymore. I saw “Stop Making Sense” in one of the early “movies with beer” theaters, along with a group of music buddies (including my wife, before she was my wife). My little group ended up dancing in the aisles, which inspired others to do so, which apparently made people buy more beer, which pleased management, so a couple of staff members told us at some point to keep the party vibe up, which we did, happily. Being from South Carolina, I of course had to kick off my shoes to dance properly. Sometime toward the end of the movie, I started to feel really, really exhausted and whipped, more so than the dancing and beer should have caused. When lights came up, I realized why: I had stepped on a piece of glass or some other sharp object and had a deep bleeding cut in the sole of my foot that had not registered with my brain. The carpet in our aisle was quite the bloody mess. We beat a hasty retreat, with a quick stop at a drug store for bandages and antibiotic . . .

  2. The cassette of Speaking in Tongues, which was released the same day as the LP, had the longer versions of the songs that eventually appeared on the CD. I also seem to remember that some of the 12″ 45s of some of those songs also had the longer versions. So the CD not really a gimmick.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.