parodies by nacrowe
its funny how when you are a child you just sort of accept things as they are without questioning motives or thinking too deeply about comparisons, because well, your frame of reference is so LIMITED. everything is essentially a NOVEL EXPERIENCE. since i remember being alive the music of DAVID BYRNE and the legendary NEW WAVE band TALKING HEADS has been a part of my existence. as ive written before, i am almost certain that LITTLE CREATURES (SIRE, 1985) was played throughout my early childhood as it was the soundtrack to my parents learning how to care for a child for the first time in the late 1980s. i remember understanding from an early age that a lot of the songs were about regular people and the ROADS they travelled on and the BUILDINGS they entered. INFRASTRUCTURE in other words. its a very un-ROCK N ROLL topic and still a bit jarring.
its no secret that BYRNE attended both the MARYLAND INSTITUTE COLLEGE OF ART and THE RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN and that his music essentially splits the difference between CIVIL ENGINEERING and EXPERIMENTAL SONGWRITING. his influence endures to this day in countless ANGULAR POST PUNK and INDIE ROCK bands that choose to experiment with both FORM and SUBJECT in their songwriting, i.e. everyone from BECK, OINGO BOINGO, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, R.E.M. and VAMPIRE WEEKEND to SUFJAN STEVENS, BLONDIE, THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS, DIRTY PROJECTORS, THE B-52's and recent collaborator ST. VINCENT. BYRNE also utilized outside musical forms in his compositions such as most notably early looping grooves that were inspired by NIGERIAN AFROBEAT icon FELA KUTI. in fact my familiarity with TALKING HEADS made my cultural transition to living in LAGOS in the mid 1990s less musically jarring as the underlying beat and groove was fairly similar.
but what always gets to me about BYRNE was the idea that his songs were about people from a third-person point of view that had some DISTANCE from the subject. there is a certain OBSERVATIONAL quality to it that lacks INTIMACY, almost like an alien writing a report back to the mothership about mankind without having to be directly involved with it. in recent years BYRNE has talked openly about his AUTISM and such may be connected to his lyrical outlook, but im not entirely sure. to me that DISTANT perspective is quite liberating and almost reminds me of that famous HARRY LIME (played by ORSON WELLES) speech in THE THIRD MAN (LONDON FILMS, 1949) where his character is on a giant ferris wheel in post-WORLD WAR II VIENNA looking down at the people below asking if in the wider scheme of things any of them would be missed if they were squashed like the ants they resembled. alright, maybe the SOCIOPATHIC element is not as pronounced (except maybe in "PSYCHO KILLER"), but there is something to the wider perspective of life through that conscious MACRO perspective on humanity and the large scale SYSTEMS and INSTITUTIONS that enable our species to thrive en masse.
again, very un-ROCK N ROLL but at the same time incredibly COMPELLING to think about, which is why TALKING HEADS are a continued touchstone in my listening habits from early childhood to date.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired over a year ago. the playlist includes music from throughout the TALKING HEADS's celebrated catalogue. enjoy!