Talking Heads: Two of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll

Talking Heads
Origin: New York City 1975
Genres: New wave, post-punk, art pop, 
Avant-funk, funk rock, worldbeat, dance-rock
Past members: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, 
Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison

Talking Heads was formed in 1975 in New York City, where they began performing at the legendary CBGB. They were pioneers of new-wave music, blending elements of punk, art rock, funk, and world music. In 2002, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

Their Remain in Light album is number 39 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. They rank number 64 on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and number 100  in the 2011 update of Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time." Two of their songs are included among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll: "Life During Wartime" and "Once In a Life."
One of the most critically 
acclaimed bands of the '80s.
Guitarist/vocalist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, and bassist Tina Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 1970s before moving to New York in 1974 to concentrate on making music. 

CBGB New York punk club

They called themselves Talking Heads, with no "The" in front of the name. The following year, the band won a spot opening for the Ramones at the seminal New York punk club CBGB. In 1976, keyboardist Jerry Harrison was added to the lineup. By 1977, the band released its first album, Talking Heads: 77. It contained their signature tune, Psycho Killer. Their sophomore album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, was issued in 1978. 

Life During Wartime
Single: Talking Heads
Album: Fear of Music
B-side: Electric Guitar 
Released: September 1979
Genre: New wave, post-punk, funk, dance-punk
Songwriters: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, 
Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth
Producer: Brian Eno

"Life During Wartime" was the lead single from Talking Heads' third album, the Brian Eno-produced Fear of Music. The track entered Billboard's Hot 100 on November 3, 1979, at 91 and peaked at 80 a few weeks later. It's one of two songs by the band included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. apocalyptic swamp-funk 
transmission in four-four time

The line "This ain't no Mudd Club or CBGB" refers to two New York music venues where the band played in the 1970s. In the liner notes of The Best of Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime, David Byrne remarked; 

"The line 'This ain't no disco' sure stuck! Remember when they would build bonfires of Donna Summer records? Well, we liked some disco music! It's called 'dance music' now. Some were radical, camp, silly, transcendent, and disposable. So it was funny that we were sometimes seen as the flag-bearers of the anti-disco movement."

Talking Heads Stop Making Sense
David Byrne from  Stop Making Sense

The band performed this number in the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. The live version is featured in the soundtrack album. The official title, "Life During Wartime (This Ain't No Party... This Ain't No Disco... This Ain't No Foolin' Around)," is one of the longest-titled singles.

Remain in Light
Album: Talking Heads
Released: October 8, 1980
Genre: New wave, post-punk, dance-rock
Afro, funk, world beat, art rock
Producer: Brian Eno

The fourth studio album, Remain in Light, was the last Talking Heads album produced by Brian Eno. David Byrne adopted a scattered, stream-of-consciousness lyrical style inspired by early rap. The band hired five additional musicians for the promotional tours.

The album peaked at 19 on the US Billboard 200 and 21 on the UK Albums Chart. It spawned the singles "Once in a Lifetime" and "Houses in Motion." It's considered the band's magnum opus. At their 2017 induction ceremony, the Library of Congress selected the LP for preservation, deeming the record "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

Remain in Light was named the best album of 1980 by Sounds and Melody Maker. It was rated number 2 behind The Clash's London Calling in Christgau's 1980 end-of-year best album list and at six by New Musical Express. Village Voice's 1980 Pazz & Jop critics' poll featured it at number three for the year, behind London Calling and Bruce Springsteen's The River.

The lead single, "Once In a Lifetime," is one of two Talking Heads songs listed among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It deals with the futility of not being happy with what you have. David Byrne told Time Out: 

"Most of the words in 'Once in a Lifetime' come from evangelists I recorded off the radio while taking notes and picking up phrases I thought were interesting directions. Maybe I'm fascinated with the middle class because it seems so different from my life, so distant from what I do. I can't imagine living like that."

Toni Basil Mickey

This track stalled at number 103 in February 1981, but when MTV launched that August, they gave the song exposure. David Byrne's choreography in the video was done by Toni Basil, who had a hit as a singer with "Mickey." She says about this video: 

"He [Byrne] wanted to research movement, but he wanted to research movement more as an actor, as does David Bowie, as does Mick Jagger. They come to movement in another way, not as a trained dancer. Or not really interested in dance steps. 

He wanted to research people in trances - different trances in church and different trances with snakes. So we went to UCLA and USC and viewed a lot of footage of documentaries on that subject. And then he took the ideas, and he 'physicalized' the ideas from these documentary-style films."


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