photo & text by nacrowe
for me LITTLE CREATURES (SIRE, 1985) by TALKING HEADS is the soundtrack to my early childhood. i distinctly remember being small enough to still be held as a kindergartener (around 1989-90) and hearing songs like "STAY UP LATE" and "CREATURES OF LOVE" from my parents speaker system in our old living room in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. given that i was born within year of its release, it makes sense that an album about coming to terms with the adult responsibilities of REPRODUCTION and the raising of children (very ROCK N ROLL topics i may sarcastically add) still resonates with me. not that i have children, i dont, but in essence i very much was the "little creature" in question to my parents. in that its an interesting portal into how that BOOMER generation came to terms in the 1980s with ADULTHOOD.
which included death. i still think "ROAD TO NOWHERE" is one of the great songs on the subject. it really gets at the big picture of the greater point of living and all the RESPONSIBILITY and eventual suffering that inevitably comes with recognizing ones own MORTALITY. i love how it treats the subject as a ride, one that "we know where we're goin', but we don't know where we've been." there is a sense that what ultimately matters is the experience itself and the ability to be aware and cognizant of the moment and is transitions, such as in the lyrics "I'm feelin' okay this mornin', and you know, we're on a road to paradise, here we go, here we go." musically its incredibly uplifting with what sounds like a prominent accordion in the mix, giving it a rolling forward momentum. i just love the counterpoint of it. its a song celebrating our eventual COLLECTIVE DEMISE. i just find it to be quite a profound and honest statement on a subject that is often reduced to tired melancholic cliches or pedaling false bravado.
as ive gotten older and seen my peers raise children and my parents grow older this TALKING HEADS record in particular only becomes more relevant with each passing day. i expect that will continue as i experience the seasons of my life down the line. my hope is that my eyes are open to the experience in the present moment as well.
how BUDDHIST indeed.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
at some point TALKING HEADS frontman and notable NEW YORKER (via Rhode Island) DAVID BYRNE decided to make a film about TEXAS. sounds horrible but TRUE STORIES (WARNER BROS, 1986) is a classic film of its time.
this musical was referenced consistently throughout my childhood, especially BYRNE's obtuse narration of "who cannot say this isn't beautiful?" when speaking about the seeming infinite flat expanse that is the lone star state. literally every time we went to a new country growing up, my father used that line. "everything you see here is typically SOUTH AFRICAN, and who cannot say it isn't beautiful?"
full disclosure: i've never been to TEXAS. its a streak i am hoping to keep. closest i got was the GEORGE BUSH INTERCONTINENTAL AIRPORT in HOUSTON and that was enough. unfortunately i feel like i was partly raised in the south given that for three years in NIGERIA i lived in a guarded company compound full of TEXANS and LOUISIANANS, but that is a story for another entry.
what separates this film from just being an eccentric look at a southern state by an outsider is the soundtrack. what makes the music work is its earnestness and ability to illustrate different aspects of TEXAN culture, from its proud LATINX population to its crazed-apocalyptic evangelical doom-spouting sermonizers to its then-growing construction of new mega-malls brought on by new wealth from the tech and petroleum industries, this film really captures a moment in the AMERICAN psyche where capitalism seemed to potentially provide a means to self-actualization.
or maybe it showcased the insular nature of a pre-internet AMERICAN landscape where basic needs were met for the first time in history and all that is left is the vacuity of media culture to provide meaning. i don't know. its a very interesting film that means something different each time i see it. sometimes i feel BYRNE is viciously satirizing and mocking MIDDLE AMERICAN VALUES while other times it seems he is empathetically presenting an endearing slice of AMERICAN life. it's probably all true. oh shit, see what i did their on accident. that's good stuff.
i should mention that the songs are sung in the film by an impressive cast including JOHN GOODMAN, TITO LARRIVA (THE PLUGZ/TITO & TARANTULA/THE FLESH EATERS), POPS STAPLES (THE STAPLES SINGERS) and, my personal favorite, GENERAL HOSPITAL actor JOHN INGLE as a crazed televangelist preacher spewing crackpot conspiracy horse shit. most people are also suprised to learn that BRITISH INDIE/ALTERNATIVE legends RADIOHEAD derived their name from a song in this film.
regardless, this film is amazing. you should see it whether you are a fan of DAVID BYRNE and/or TALKING HEADS or not. but really you should be a fan of them as well.