“One of the things that I think Talking Heads stood for,” muses keyboard player/ guitarist Jerry Harrison,” was sticking to your guns, doing what you did best, and where it took you and whatever success it brought you, then that’s what happened. And I think that was inspiring to people. There’s often been a fantasy aspect to rock and roll where the artists try to be bigger than life. They try to look like pirates; they try to look like juvenile delinquents. All of these images where they try and look like ‘I’m the sexiest person alive’. And one of the problems with this is a lot of the musicians believe their own press, and believe this about themselves. I think it’s a reason why some get involved in drug excess, & get involved in trying to live this fantasy that a lot of people have about rock and roll.”
“And I think it’s quite demeaning for the audience,” continues Harrison in this week’s edition of In the Studio. “The audience goes to a show, and maybe your girlfriend seems like she’s more attracted to the lead singer than to you anymore because he seems sexier . It’s a facade, & now you want to vicariously live that fantasy for yourself.
“I think that Talking Heads were one of the first groups who tried not to be about a fantasy that was bigger than life, but tried to be about being strong within a life that was ultimately real.”
In 2002, their first year of eligibility, the Talking Heads were elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No wonder: the following year many of the same music industry people would place no less than four Talking Heads albums onto Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Albums of All Time list. A casual perusal of the band’s discography on AllMusic.com reveals more stars than a Texas sky on a clear night. Jeff Gold‘s sumptuous coffee table tome 101 Essential Rock Records devotes two whole pages to their debut Talking Heads :77 which contained the riveting tension of “Psycho Killer“.
Singer/songwriter David Byrne and keyboard/guitarist Jerry Harrison join me In the Studio on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of Talking Heads’ terrific cover of Al Green/ Teenie Hodges’ “Take Me to the River” from More Songs About Buildings and Food, the pulsing pre-9/11 domestic terrorism in “Life During Wartime”, the MTV video classic “Once in a Life Time”,”Burning Down the House” and “Girlfriend is Better” from the brilliant 1983 breakthrough Speaking in Tongues thirty-five years ago; “And She Was” from 1985’s Little Creatures, and “Wild Wild Life” from True Stories. – Redbeard