Friday, May 14, 2010

Born On This Day- May 14th... Artist & Musician David Byrne

David Byrne is a very important musical artist & a major influence on us as individuals & as a couple. In 1977 at a party, I heard a song- Psycho Killer that actually changed my mind about the way I listened to music. At that time in my life my musical menu was full of Sondheim, & my high school & college favorites: Carole King, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Paul Simon, & lots of old school R & B. When I heard my first Talking Heads single, I am sure I was quite high, but the song made a very strong impression under any condition. I had never heard something so raw & primal & yet tuneful. I have remained a life long fan.

We saw Stop Making Sense in the theatre several times. It was playing in the Pike Place Cinema at the time that we lived in the Pike Place Market in Seattle. I sort of remember eating mushrooms & dancing in the aisles, actually I am sure I did that. Brilliantly directed by Jonathan Demme, it may be the best concert film of all time. this concert film is different from other concert productions through its carefully scripted performance, framed by references to Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, employed few quick cuts, audience shots, applause sounds or unnecessary props (apparently Byrne insisted all objects not central to the movie be painted flat black). It is most famous for Byrne’s eccentric & electric showmanship, choreography, & costuming.

I have every album by Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Byrne's solo work, his collaborations with Brian Eno- The Catherine Wheel & My Life In The Bush With Ghosts & his Oscar winning score to The Last Emperor with Ryuichi Sakamoto. I have never stopped listening. 3 David Byrne songs are in my Top 25 All Time Favorite Songs. My favorite song of all time is Once In A Lifetime & I still get shivers every time I hear it.

David Byrne’s post Talking Heads work includes:

The Catherine Wheel, a ballet written for Twyla Tharp (1981)

• Movie & TV soundtracks such as The Last Emperor (Oscar, Best Original Score) & Big Love for HBO

• Re-released & remixed My Life in the Bush of Ghosts with Brian Eno for it’s 25th anniversary in 2006, & made 2 songs fully available for sampling & remixing by anyone.

• 2002, he created a giant flowchart to cover scaffolding at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC, called Everything is Connected, that attempted to show how designers & there brands could be connected to various trends & people in pop culture, notably, he connects Donna Karan with Karl Marx & Prada with Reality Television) .

• Gave multiple lectures at universities, festivals & museums on the relationship between culture, art & advertising, 2002- 2005

Here Lies Love, a sympathetic song cycle about Imelda Marcos, in collaboration with Fatboy Slim, debuted at Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia, 2006 & then was performed at Carnegie Hall, NYC in 2007

• His latest album- Everything That Happens Will Happen Today with Brian Eno released in 2008.

I have every reason to believe, although it has never been discussed, that David Byrne is the Husband’s favorite musical artist & the biggest influence on his psyche & his own art. We saw David Byrne in concert last summer & the experience was transcendent, I could tell that the Husband was quite & quietly moved.


  1. I always find myself asking "How did I get here?"

  2. Saw him last year and wept during "Once in a Lifetime." It was the gig of the year.

    I remember cutting class with a French exchange student to Stop Making Sense at the 8th St Playhouse where we didn't eat mushrooms but we did smoke cigarettes (cloves - oh luxury) during the actual film, an activity which seems to me to belong to a different age.

    David Byrne seems to have an intellect and creative energy too huge to contain in the normal assortment of genres. He is sort of a renaissance genius.

    "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" is my favourite and yes, it also makes me cry.

  3. Remain in Light is regarded as one of the top albums of all time and quite rightly so.

    From your post, I can gather that he seems to be a pop culture museum in it's own right - this is a side of DB that I did not know.

    I;ve heard about Talking Heads for years when they were big in the UK and it took a bit too long for them to have some success in the US - but their music is indeed a major part of the 80's, and DB has grown as an artist - I remember him experimenting with Braziliian music and different cultures but never heard most of his work on this.

    From your post - It re-lighted my interest to hear his music (and Talking Heads) again.


  4. My life changed forever when I heard "Once in a lifetime" for the first time.
    .....a comment that cannot be made about too many other songs....

    ...the husband


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