Monday, June 23, 2008

Number 488 - Talking Heads


Number 488


Talking Heads


"Once In A Lifetime"


(1981)

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Genre:New Wave
art by ST4TIK
Sometimes, a song doesn't need to sell squillions of singles or for it to be Number 1 in the USA for 44 weeks straight. Sometimes ..... the song can be fairly adequate in sound and not all that catchy. So how can it be a classic you say? Easy, have a video that is so good, that will one day end up at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Actually, if it wasn't for MTV in the early to late '80s, a lot of songs might have never been heard, let alone sell. And*, yes MTV is crap now. It is [or should that be "Is it?] a shame that MTV have forgotten its once magic formula, but then again, do I really care? Not really, with thanks to You Tube. Its just the same as it ever was.
* Yes, I used the word "And" at the start of the sentence, TSK you say. Mr Seastrand [English Teacher] from Mt Roskill Grammar School will be having kittens. [if he ever reads this] Ha ... I laugh Sir. Vigourisly
Talking Mouths?
The musical transition that seemed to have just begun with Fear of Music came to fruition on Talking Heads' fourth album, Remain in Light. "I Zimbra" and "Life During Wartime" from the earlier album served as the blueprints for a disc on which the group explored African polyrhythms on a series of driving groove tracks, over which David Byrne chanted and sang his typically disconnected lyrics. Remain in Light had more words than any previous Heads record, but they counted for less than ever in the sweep of the music. The album's single, "Once in a Lifetime," flopped upon release, but over the years it became an audience favorite due to a striking video, its inclusion in the band's 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, and its second single release (in the live version) because of its use in the 1986 movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills, when it became a minor chart entry.
Same as it ever was?
Byrne sounded typically uncomfortable in the verses ("And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife/And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?"), which were undercut by the reassuring chorus ("Letting the days go by"). Even without a single, Remain in Light was a hit, indicating that Talking Heads were connecting with an audience ready to follow their musical evolution, and the album was so inventive and influential, it was no wonder. As it turned out, however, it marked the end of one aspect of the group's development and was their last new music for three years. ~ [William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide]
Yes but ah, what about the video?
The verses of the song consist of David Byrne speaking rather than singing. With the lyrics "Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down", the song has a rather existential vibe to it, although it is usually interpreted to be a song dealing with the middle age crisis and the inevitable sacrifice of youthful ideals and dreams for conventional success. The music video features a bespectacled David Byrne dancing much like a marionette. The choreography was done by Toni Basil, famous for her hit song "Mickey". Byrne is shown making sudden flings of his arm, tapping his head, and getting on his hands and knees to pat the floor, much like simple tricks which can be done with actual marionettes. In the background, we see several David Byrnes dancing in perfect synchronisation, in the foreground, a large David Byrne is getting further and further out of synch. Some of Byrne's mannerisms (such as physical spasms, unfocussed eye movements, and sharp intakes of breath) were inspired by choreographer Basil showing him footage of epilepsy sufferers.
For more Talking Heads see Number 533
For Toni Basil see Number 674
What does Rolling Bone think about the Heads?
Seldom in pop-music history has there been a larger gap between what black and white audiences are listening to than there is right now. While blacks are almost entirely uninterested in the clipped, rigid urgency of the New Wave, it's doubtful that more than a small percentage of Rolling Stone's predominantly white readership knows anything at all about the summer's only piece of culture-defining music, Kurtis Blow's huge hit, "The Breaks." Such a situation is both sad and ironic, because rarely have the radical edges of black and white music come closer to overlapping. On one hand, the Gang of Four utilize their bass guitar every bit as prominently and starkly as the curt bass figures that prod the spoken verses in "The Breaks." On the other, Chic producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards choose to make Diana Ross sound as sullen and alienated as Deborah Harry. None of this has escaped the notice of Talking Heads, however, and Remain in Light is their brave, absorbing attempt to locate a common ground in today's divergent, often hostile musical community. ~ [edited from - RS KEN TUCKER 1980]
For Chic see Number 902
For Debrah Harry see Number 594
For Diana Ross see Number 716
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '488th Song of all Time' was "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac has appeared in The Definitive 1000 @ #514, #547 & #591
Other songs with reference to Talking Headers #515, #661, #674, #749, #994
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Not one bloody song) the Album ranked at Number 126 (Go figure)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 75.7 out of 108

Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z
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