Sunday, June 17, 2012

Talking Heads

James Verini's "The Talking Heads Song That Explains Talking Heads" describes how "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" exemplifies (and marks the end of) the brilliant series of songs and albums that Talking Heads produced from 1977-1983. I recommend the article to all Talking Heads fans, and the band to anyone young enough to have never heard (or perhaps even heard of?) them.

Verini appears to be young enough (he refers to "the late nineties" and "when I went to college" in the same paragraph) to not understand something important about Talking Heads: for a certain kind of person who was a teenager in the late 70s and early 80s, they were the ultimate band. What kind of person? Going to college, somewhat intellectual, a bit left-leaning. And they were the only band that everybody agreed about, in this sense: if there was a stereo war going on at a party (with people going over to the record player, or later CD player, and arguing about which songs to play), there was one perfect solution: put on Talking Heads and everybody would dance.

But Verini is also right about something: no matter how present the band was in the early 80s, those born later often have not heard of them. I have finally gotten over being surprised when the most musically literate of my students (the ones who are in bands; the ones who write music criticism for local papers) not only don't really know Talking Heads but in some cases haven't even heard of them. I simply tell them to check out this band as something to look forward to, and when they do, they report back to me, and they inevitably say something along the lines of, "Oh my God, how could I have missed these guys?"

And last but not least: you gotta love the lamp:


Mark Granier said...

Thanks for the link Andrew. I'll read the article. TH is possibly my favourite band ever. And yes, the lamp is brilliant (a variation on the big suit).

Andrew Shields said...

They were certainly one of the very best bands I ever saw live, and like I said, one of the best bands to dance to!

captcha: partyop :-)

Donald Brown said...

Yeah, they seem to have fallen out of general young person consciousness. I think it's because of lo-fi,alt, grunge, all that, as the dominant mode of the late '80s/early '90s. Your comments are spot on about how they were the band that everyone agreed on. It's also true that they didn't keep improving after 1983, but there are still some gems to come. They never made a bad album, which is also very rare.