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Sunday, February 1, 2009

From The Dorks' Soundtrack - Talking Heads

Band: Talking Heads 

Album: Stop Making Sense (Special Edition) 

Song: Girlfriend is Better

1974. Stephen King publishes his first novel. Richard Nixon Resigns. Phillippe Petit tight rope walks between the two towers of the World Trade Center. The Rumble in the Jungle pits Muhammad Ali against George Foreman and Ali wins back the title he'd been stripped of 7 years prior. Ted Bundy was still active and abucting women all over the country. The skeleton of "Lucy" from the hominid species Australopithecus afarensis is discovered. Among the comic book characters to make their first appearances two are personally interesting ... Wolverine (one of my least favorite) and Harvey Bullock (one of my all-time favorites), and one is more interesting in an event perspective ... recently returned for the pages of Final Crisis: Libra. Paul Levitz started his run on Legion of Superheroes.

But all of that is secondary.
It's also the year that The Talking Heads first got together. David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison ... The Talking Heads. First known as The Artistics, David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth met in college and started performing together in 1974. By 1975 they were opening for The Ramones at CBGB's. It wasn't until 1977 that they released their first album, Talking Heads: 77. They were among the first of the New Wave bands to make an appearance in the post-punk movement. Taking a lot of their art school ideals and turning them into musical concepts that few had tread upon before them. Without question there never would have been a Talking Heads if their hadn't been bands like The Velvet Underground and Pere Ubu but the Heads managed to make all of those very underground concepts far more accessible to the mainstream and thereby became a much more beloved band who influences at least 1 out of every 5 or so artists today. 

The song that I chose was originally off of side one of their 1983 release Speaking in Tongues but
 it wasn't until the live performance of the song on the quentessential live recording Stop Making Sense that I really fell in love with it. I'm not sure what it is about the live performance but it grabs ahold of you and drags you on this roller coaster ride that few bands would be willing to take you on. 

In 1988 The Talking Heads went on hiatus and by 1991 they had announced that they had officially broken up. It's the kind of thing that happens to really fantastic artists of all kinds. David Byrne had become far more infatuated with world music and Weymouth & Frantz were more interested in more American Pop-Rock (ala the Tom Tom Club). Byrne remains a musical force to be reckoned with and releases incredibly dense records that sample styles from the world over and continues to work with the father of electronic music Brian Eno.

I think that without The Talking Heads that music would be far more boring today ... far ... far, far more boring.

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