The Late Movies: Talking Heads

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I worship David Byrne, the lanky Scot frontman of Talking Heads. He's a sort of lyrical god to me. If he told me to do something, you know what? I'd do it. So when I tried to think of a topic for my first Late Movies installment, I had to go Byrne. Here are some favorite tunes from Talking Heads, courtesy of YouTube. Get 'em now while they're extremely hot.

"This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)" - 1984

In this performance from Stop Making Sense, Byrne dances with a lamp. It's catchy and smart and just awesome. (Also notice right after the five-minute mark, he doesn't quite make it back to the mic in time; what's up with that?)

"Psycho Killer" - 1978

According to Wikipedia, Byrne has said of this song: "When I started writing this (I got help later), I imagined Alice Cooper doing a Randy Newman-type ballad. Both the Joker and Hannibal Lecter were much more fascinating than the good guys. Everybody sort of roots for the bad guys in movies." This live performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test (a BBC music show) dates from 1978.

"Take Me To The River" - 1980

Live in Rome, featuring Adrian Belew from King Crimson. Dude.

"Burning Down the House" - Circa 1983/1984

The provenance of this clip is unknown. According to Wikipedia:

Once the whole band had reworked the groove into something resembling the final recording, Byrne began chanting and singing nonsense syllables over the music until he had arrived at phrasing that fit with the rhythms-- a technique influenced by former Talking Heads producer Brian Eno-- "and then I [would] just write words to fit that phrasing... I'd have loads and loads of phrases collected that I thought thematically had something to do with one another, and I'd pick from those." [Byrne said.]

"Dream Operator" - 1986

So if you haven't seen Byrne's film True Stories, you're really missing out. It's weird, fun, and...well, weird again. Here's the infamous "fashion show" sequence from the movie:

Bonus Video: MGMT Performing "This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)"

Shot on April 20, 2003 at Wesleyan, this is one of the earliest public performances by MGMT. Watch as they have a good time with this Talking Heads number.

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June 3, 2009 - 6:00pm
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