David Byrne of Talking Heads is 70

This ain’t no party

For me, the great thing about David Byrne is that he keeps growing and changing. This comes across in this 2022 online interview in Parents magazine. It’s entitled David Byrne is Gloriously Odd: How Family Formed Talking Heads’ Lead Man.

He tells the story of Everybody’s Coming to My House, a song on his 2018 album American Utopia. Byrne wrote as though those folks in his place were a bit of a bother. Yet when he got some Detroit teens to perform it, they had a very different read, the joy of everyone hanging out.

I’ve long stated that one of my two favorite concerts ever was Talking Heads performing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on August 5, 1983. Later shows in that tour, three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, were turned into Stop Making Sense, the highly regarded 1984 American concert film directed by Jonathan Demme.

I had been a fan of Talking Heads before that. And when the band broke up, I enjoyed many of Byrne’s solo albums as well. But seeing American Utopia, the filmed version of the Broadway production, was a revelation. As he noted in the Parents piece, the plan was to make the difficult look easy.

Watch David Byrne Answers the Web’s Most Searched Questions for WIRED. Also, in the recent CBS Saturday Morning interview, he acknowledges that he cannot write songs at present. But he can draw.

Songs

Check out the All Music discography of his solo work and Talking Heads, who are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, class of 2002.

Also, in 2018, David Byrne teamed up with Choir! Choir! Choir! to cover David Bowie’s  Heroes.

This list is vaguely in order towards my favorite, but only the top song is secure.

You and Eye  – solo
Marching Through The Wilderness – solo. In a review of Rei Momo by William Ruhlmann: “On his first full-fledged solo album, Byrne indulges his fascination with Latin and South American musical styles, employing a variety of native musicians but mixing up the sounds to suit his own distinctly non-purist vision.”
And She Was – Talking Heads

Dirty Old Town – solo
Making Flippy Floppy – Talking Heads, just fun to say
Crosseyed And Painless – Talking Heads                                                                  Back In The Box – solo

America Is Waiting – Byrne and Brian Eno
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) -Talking Heads
Loco de Amor – solo
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads, probably the first song of theirs I heard

More songs

Take Me To The River – Talking Heads; if I were to do karaoke, it would sound more like David Byrne than Al Green
Slippery People – Talking People; on the Stop Making Sense tour, one of the background singers is Lynn Mabry, who I’ve met. She, among other things, sings backup for Sheila E., as does the niece Rebecca Jade
I Zimbra – Talking Heads, the first song of theirs I loved

Burning Down The House – Talking Heads. Did anyone watching the video believe “I AM AN OR-DIN-AR-Y GUY?”
Life During Wartime – Talking Heads. “This ain’t no party…”
Independence Day – solo
Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads

Lilies Of The Valley – solo
Help Me, Somebody – Bryne and Eno
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) – this song is tied to a specific time (the 1990s), and place (on the way to Cooperstown), and people
Once in a Lifetime – an obvious choice, I know; how it was made (you can ignore the two-minute ad at the end)

Review: David Byrne’s American Utopia

Directed by Spike Lee

American Utopia

Flicking through the channels in late December, which I seldom do, I came across something amazing. It was David Byrne and a troupe of like-dressed men and women. This must be the film of his American Utopia show on Broadway. They are performing Janelle Monae’s astonishing “Hell You Talmbout”, complete with images of murdered Black men and women.

Then some other songs, including Road to Nowhere, the Talking Heads tune. This involved the cast literally marching around the theater. My, I need to see this in its entirety, which I did on HBO about a week later.

Like the Stop Making Sense tour, where I saw Talking Heads at SPAC in the early 1980s, this show adds layers. First Byrne, then the two folks, a black woman and a white man, I describe as “interpreters.” They sing, but they also enact choreographed movements. The ensemble builds with keyboards, guitar, and percussion – a lot of percussion.

Peppered between the 20 Talking Heads and solo songs are Byrne’s musings, about the nature of things – how the brain develops. The show is political. Not capital P political, except for the Monae song. But he notes that most of the cast are immigrants, including himself, born in Scotland. He asks people to vote, though he does not say for whom.

One of the facets that made this show work so well is the technology. Everyone moves around the stage, in different arrangements. The instruments are all hand-held and wireless. It is a very freeing experience.

The right thing

The movie’s director is Spike Lee. Per NPR, he “works right alongside Byrne, bringing viewers into the show…, putting us right on stage with these talented artists, and transcending a mere recording of a live event.” He must have placed cameras all over. My favorite shot might be from above the stage, the musicians in the configuration of a pinwheel marching band.

I LOVED this movie. As RogerEbert.com  notes, “David Byrne’s American Utopia is a joyous expression of art, empathy, and compassion.” The end credits feature Everybody’s Coming To My House by the Detroit School of Arts. It’s a better version than his version, Byrne opines.

30-Day Challenge: Day 9- Favorite Flower


(At this rate, this will be the 30-MONTH Challenge. I’ll pick up the pace in July, if only because I’ll be away for a few days.)

Here’s a real embarrassment: I am outstandingly bad at identifying flowers. Oh, I recognize a rose, a carnation, or the oddball flora such as the sunflower. And the tulip; you can’t live in Albany, which has an annual festival, without being able to ID a tulip. But beyond that, not so much.

“Oh, that’s a pretty violet flower. What is it?”
“A violet.”

This is particularly mortifying because my father worked at a florist shop when I was a child, and for years after that, he would arrange flowers for weddings, debutante balls and other events. He would drag my sister Leslie and me to these gigs, but I still had no absorption of his skills. I WAS useful, though, schlepping stuff from one place to another.

I suppose my favorite may be the lily, mostly because of Easter, and because they remind me of brass instruments.

The first song on the 1994 eponymous album David Byrne is Lilies of the Valley.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial