Morning Music: Talking Heads

Talking Heads 77When I was young, I loved Talking Heads. And I think I have a lot to say about them. The truth is that I haven’t listened to anything since Little Creatures. And in fact, I thought that Speaking in Tongues marked the end of the band as a truly creative force. There is a problem when people get good enough to do the kind of art they always wanted to. Talking Heads always wanted to be a funk band. On the first two albums, they totally failed at that. In the next two albums, they had created a bizarre kind of funk. That was all great! Then they actually became a funk band and they just weren’t very interesting.

But let’s start with the first album, Talking Heads 77. It is clearly the weakest of the four great albums. And I’m not sure if I would even say that it is a great album. Certainly any Ramones album from this period puts it to shame. Still, it is an excellent album — and extremely consistent. The classics from it are, of course, “Psycho Killer” and “Don’t Worry About the Government.” The latter song has always bothered me in that almost everyone seems to think it is meant as satire, when I’m pretty sure they are deadly earnest.

But I want to highlight the first song on the album, “Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town.” It is probably the song that most screams funk. And I love that bass line, which is damned hard to play over and over again — especially when you have hands the size of Tina Weymouth’s. It also has some lovely minimalist synth work by Jerry Harrison. And top it off with what are very funny lyrics. The truth is that love is very disruptive. “Jet pilot gone out of control, ship captain run aground; stock broker make a bad investment when love has come to town!” Tell me about it!

4 thoughts on “Morning Music: Talking Heads

  1. Sure, I like Talking Heads. I think of them as a “cerebral” band–something we don’t see much of. But really, the only reason I’m commenting is to see if I have to be approved. ;)

    • No, it was only James. And the reason has turned out to be really weird.

      I think the reason that Talking Heads didn’t do funk well and Tom Tom Club did was because you never got any sense of joy from David Byrne.

  2. I love “DTATG” because of its cheery optimism — but also for the bit beginning with “it’s over there, it’s over there.” When I was younger I would dance to that song, all by myself. The Heads at their best were a very danceable band. Pretty much the whole second half of “Buildings & Food” is boogie beauty.

    BTW the comment thing seems fixed, if I hadn’t mentioned that before.

    • They are easy to dance to — especially for the way that we white people dance. :-)

      Yes, the change seems to have worked. Now I’m going to change it back and see if it is still okay.

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