Talking Heads

Talking Heads

Infobox musical artist
Name =Talking Heads

Img_capt = (clockwise from top center: Frantz, Harrison, Byrne, Weymouth)
Img_size =
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Alias =
Origin = New York City, New York, United States
Years_active = 1974–1991 (reunion: 2002)
Label = Sire
Associated_acts = Brian Eno David Byrne The Modern Lovers
Tom Tom Club
Past_members = David Byrne
Jerry Harrison
Tina Weymouth
Chris Frantz

Talking Heads was an American New Wave band formed in 1974 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison. Auxiliary musicians also frequently made appearances in concert and on the group's albums.

The avant-garde musical style of Talking Heads combined elements of punk rock, new wave, pop, funk, world music and art rock. Frontman and songwriter David Byrne contributed whimsical, esoteric lyrics to the band's songs, and emphasized their showmanship through various multimedia projects and performances. Critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes Talking Heads as being "one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the '80s, while managing to earn several pop hits." [ [ allmusic ((( Talking Heads > Biography ))) ] ]

In 2002, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Four of the band's albums appeared on "Rolling Stone" magazine's 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and the Channel 4 100 Greatest Albums poll listed one album ("Fear of Music") at number 76. Their concert film "Stop Making Sense" is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the genre. [ [ "Stop Making Sense": Rotten Tomatoes.] ]


1974-1977: First years

Formed in 1974 in New York City, the band was initially called The Artistics and consisted of three members: David Byrne (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Frantz (drums, percussion), and Tina Weymouth (bass guitar, backing vocals). All three were alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design. In an interviewSpecify|date=October 2007, Weymouth recalled how the group chose the name Talking Heads: "A friend had found the name in the "TV Guide", which explained the term used by TV studios to describe a head-and-shoulder shot of a person talking as 'all content, no action.' It fit."

Talking Heads landed a gig opening for the Ramones at the legendary CBGB club in their native New York City. In 1976, they added Jerry Harrison (guitar, keyboards, vocals), formerly of Jonathan Richman's band The Modern Lovers. The group quickly drew a following and was signed to Sire Records in 1977. The group released their first single, "Love → Building on Fire" in February of that year.

Their first album, "" was released soon afterward and did not contain the earlier single.

1978-1982: With Brian Eno

It was with their second album, 1978's "More Songs About Buildings and Food" that the band began its long-term collaboration with producer Brian Eno, who had previously worked with Roxy Music, David Bowie and Robert Fripp. In fact Eno's 1977 song "King's Lead Hat" is an anagram of the band's name. Eno's unusual style meshed well with the group's artistic sensibilities, and they gained the confidence to explore in a wide variety of musical directions.Fact|date=October 2007 Though the first album's "Psycho Killer" had been a minor hit, it was "More Songs"' cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" that broke Talking Heads into general public consciousness.

The experimentation continued with 1979's "Fear of Music", which flirted with the darker stylings of post-punk rock.Fact|date=October 2007 The single "Life During Wartime" produced the catchphrase, "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco." 1980's "Remain in Light", heavily influenced by the Afro-Beat of Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti, to whose music Eno had introduced the band, explored African polyrhythms, foreshadowing Byrne's later interest in world music. In order to perform these more complex arrangements the band toured with an expanded group, first at the Heatwave festival in August, and later in their famousfact concert film "Stop Making Sense".

The album's single, "Once in a Lifetime", failed to make an impression upon its release in the band's own country (however, it became a Top 20 hit in the UK), but grew into a popular standard over the next few years on the back of its music video.After releasing four albums in barely four years, the group waited nearly three years before releasing another. In the meantime, they released a live album, "The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads", toured the US and Europe as an eight-piece group, and parted ways with Eno, who went on to produce albums with the group U2.

1983-1991: Post–Brian Eno

1983 saw the release of "Speaking in Tongues", a commercial breakthrough that produced the band's first American Top 10 hit, "Burning Down the House". Once again, a striking video was inescapable owing to its heavy rotation on MTV. The following tour was documented in Jonathan Demme's "Stop Making Sense", which generated another live album of the same name. The Speaking in Tongues tour would be their last.

Three more albums followed: 1985's "Little Creatures" (which featured the prominent hit singles "And She Was" and "Road to Nowhere"), 1986's "True Stories" (Talking Heads covering all the soundtrack songs of Byrne's musical comedy film, in which the band also appeared), and 1988's "Naked". The sound of "Little Creatures" and "True Stories" was much more American pop-rock, while "Naked" showed heavy African influence with polyrhythmic styles like those seen on "Remain in Light". During that time the group was falling increasingly under David Byrne's controlFact|date=October 2007, and after "Naked" the band went on "hiatus".

It took until 1991 for an official announcement to be made that Talking Heads had broken up. A brief reunion occurred, however, later that year for "Sax and Violins," an original single that appeared on the soundtrack to Wim Wenders' "Until the End of the World". Only Byrne and Harrison appear in the song's video, however, lending doubt to Frantz and Weymouth's participation on the track. During this breakup period, Byrne continued his solo career, releasing "Rei Momo" in 1989 and "The Forest" in 1991.

1992-present: Post break-up

Despite David Byrne's lack of interest in another album, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, and Jerry Harrison reunited for a one-off album called "No Talking, Just Head" under the name The Heads in 1996. The album featured a number of vocalists, representing some of the most iconic voices of '80s and '90s alternative rock, including Debbie Harry of Blondie, Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, Andy Partridge of XTC, Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes, Michael Hutchence of INXS, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays, Richard Hell, and Maria McKee. The album was accompanied by a tour which featured Johnette Napolitano as the vocalist.

Byrne has continued his solo career, while Harrison has become a producer of some note – the latter's résumé includes the Violent Femmes' "The Blind Leading the Naked", the Fine Young Cannibals' "The Raw and the Cooked", General Public's "Rub It Better", Crash Test Dummies' "God Shuffled His Feet", Live's "Throwing Copper", No Doubt's song "New" from "Return of Saturn", and most recently work by The Black and White Years and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Frantz and Weymouth, who were married in 1977, had been recording on the side as Tom Tom Club since 1981. Tom Tom Club's self-titled debut album sold almost as well as Talking Heads themselves, leading to the band appearing in "Stop Making Sense". They achieved several pop/rap hits, particularly in the UK. Their single "Genius of Love" has been sampled numerous times, notably on old school hip hop classic "It's Nasty (Genius of Love)" by Grandmaster Flash and on Mariah Carey's 1995 hit "Fantasy". They also have produced several artists, including Happy Mondays and Ziggy Marley.


The band played together on March 18, 2002 at the ceremony of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, however reuniting for a concert tour is unlikely. David Byrne states: "We did have a lot of bad blood go down. That's one reason, and another is that musically we're just miles apart." [cite news |last=Blackman |first=Guy |url= |title=Byrning down the house |publisher=The Age |date=2005-02-06 |accessdate=2008-10-03] Weymouth has been critical of David Byrne, describing him as "a man incapable of returning friendship". [cite web|url=|title=Byrning down the house|author=Guy Blackman|publisher="The Age"|date=2005-02-06|accessdate=2007-06-01|quote=In March last year, Weymouth described Byrne as "a man incapable of returning friendship". She told Glasgow's "Sunday Herald": "Cutting off attachments when a thing/person is perceived to have served its purpose or there is a perceived threat to ego is the lifelong pattern of his relations".]


tudio albums

*"" (September 16, 1977)
*"More Songs About Buildings and Food" (July 14, 1978)
*"Fear of Music" (August 3, 1979)
*"Remain in Light" (October 8, 1980)
*"Speaking in Tongues" (May 31, 1983)
*"Little Creatures" (July 15, 1985)
*"True Stories" (October 7, 1986)
*"Naked" (April 3, 1988)


Talking Heads have influenced a number of bands and have been referenced in a number of films:

*The band Radiohead took their name from the Talking Heads song "Radio Head" from the 1986 album "True Stories". [ [ about radiohead ] ] [ [ David Byrne interviews Thom Yorke for WIRED | Radiohead At Ease [In Rainbows ] ]
*Trent Reznor was inspired by the flipped and backwards lettering on the "Remain In Light" cover when designing the logo for his band Nine Inch Nails. He has also cited "Remain In Light" as one of his favorite albums of all time. [ [] ]
*U2 often performed a snippet of "Life During Wartime" during performances of "Discothèque". [One example can be seen on the "" video]
*The jam band Phish covered the album "Remain in Light" in its entirety on Halloween 1996. Phish continued to cover "Crosseyed and Painless" throughout their career, including a 20+ minute version at the millennium concert at Big Cypress in the Everglades. Phish also covered the song "Cities" from the "Fear of Music" album, gaining heavy rotation in their set lists in 1997 and 1998. The cover appeared on Phish's live album "Slip, Stitch & Pass."
*The band Widespread Panic performs cover versions of "Life During Wartime", "Swamp", "Heaven", "City of Dreams" and "Papa Legba". Lead singer John Bell frequently raps pieces of "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" during the song "Blight", an example of such can be heard on the Widespread Panic album "Live In The Classic City". They also cover "City of Dreams" on their 2006 DVD "Earth to Atlanta: Live at the Fox Theatre".
*String Cheese Incident band member Kyle Hollingsworth, an avid Talking Heads fan, regularly covers "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)", as well as "What a Day That Was." The band has also covered "Life During Wartime" and "Burning Down the House".
*"Making Flippy Floppy" is often played by jam band Umphrey's Mcgee.
*The band are mentioned in the Edan song "Rock & Roll".
*Living Colour covered "Memories Can't Wait" on their debut album.
*Simply Red included a cover of "Heaven" on their 1985 album "Picture Book".
*Guster has a live recording of (Nothing But) Flowers on their live CD/DVD "Guster On Ice".
*In a US interview conducted for MTV in 1985, Kate Bush stated that she was a fan. [ [ Gaffaweb - Kate Bush - REACHING OUT - MTV - Unedited ] ]
*The novel "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis opens with a page displaying a lyric from the song (Nothing But) Flowers ("And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention") and the protagonist later says Talking Heads is his favorite band.
*UK indie-pop band The Ting Tings have regularly acknowledged Talking Heads and splinter group the Tom Tom Club as major a influence on their work.Fact|date=August 2008
*Yonder Mountain String Band does a bluegrassy-jam cover of Girlfriend is Better.

"Burning Down the House"

*In the TV Series "Home Improvement", The song "Burning Down the House" is covered by a group of construction workers a couple times and was used as their intro numerous times.
*Bonnie Raitt covered "Burning Down the House" on her 1995 live album "Road Tested".
*In 2008, The Dave Matthews Band started performing a cover of "Burning Down The House."
*In October 1999 The Cardigans released a cover of the song "Burning Down the House". The cover featured Tom Jones.
*The Automatic covered the song live on the recent NME Awards Tour.
*In the movie, "13 Going On 30", Jenna's friend, Matt, as a kid in the eighties, does a dance to the song.
*The movie, "Revenge of the Nerds", Features the song as background when the Alpha Betas set fire to their frat house.

"Psycho Killer"

*In an interview with VH-1, Ice-T stated that "Psycho Killer" was the inspiration for "Cop Killer".when
*The game Rock Band 2 features the song "Psycho Killer". [ [// Official Rock Band 2 Tracklist Revealed - Kotaku] ]
*Velvet Revolver released a studio recording of "Psycho Killer" on their EP "Melody and the Tyranny".
*In the third episode of television show "Flight Of The Conchords", "Mugged", a reference to "Psycho Killer" is featured in a line of dialogue, "He's a Psycho Killer, Qu'est-ce que c'est?". [ [ Talking Heads - Psycho Killer Lyrics ] ]
*Kate Miller-Heidke performs a cover of "Psycho Killer" in an operatic manner, which was played during the closing credits of an episode of "Spicks and Specks".
*"Psycho Killer" has been covered a capella by both The Flying Pickets and The Bobs with Gunner "Bob" Madsen on lead vocals.
*Canadian band Moxy Fruvous covered "Psycho Killer" on the "Live Noise" album.

"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)"

*Numerous artists including Perpetual Groove, Shawn Colvin and Arcade Fire have regularly covered the song "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)".Fact|date=October 2007
*This song is featured the movies "Wall Street", "Wordplay" and "Lars and the Real Girl".
*"This Must be the Place" also appeared in TV series "Northern Exposure".

"Once in a Lifetime"

*In the Cartoon Network series "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" Grim is having a dream where he quotes "This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife." and wakes to Billy repeating "Same as it ever was." Both are references to "Once in a Lifetime."
*In the movie "Secret Window" the character Mort Rainey (played by Johnny Depp) has a line where he says "This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife." (a reference to "Once in a Lifetime"). Soon after, he gets a phone call from his ex-wife where she says that someone burnt their house (a reference to "Burning Down the House"?).
*The Exies recorded an acoustic cover of "Once in a Lifetime" for their album "A Modern Way of Living with the Truth".
*Earthsuit covered "Once in a Lifetime" on their last recording, "The Rise of Modern Simulation".
*Smashing Pumpkins was known to do a cover version of "Once in a Lifetime" on their Machina tour.
*Jimmy Buffett did a cover version of "Once in a Lifetime" two times during his 2007 Bama Breeze tour. [ [ Once In a Lifetime - Jimmy Buffett Song & Lyrics Database | ] ]
*Down and Out in Beverly Hills The song was featured prominently in the Nick Nolte/Bette Midler/Richard Dreyfuss film.
*Used in the theatrical trailer for the 2008 feature film "W." directed by Oliver Stone and starring Josh Brolin.


*Weymouth, Tina (1992). In "Sand in the Vaseline" (p. 12) [CD liner notes] . New York: Sire Records Company.
*"Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits", Billboard Books, New York (2004).


Further reading

* David Bowman, "This Must Be the Place: The Adventures of Talking Heads in the Twentieth Century" (New York: HarperCollins, 2001). ISBN 0-380-97846-6.
* David Gans, "Talking Heads" (New York: Avon Books, 1985). ISBN 0-380-89954-X.
* Krista Reese, "The Name of This Book is Talking Heads" (London: Proteus Books, 1982). ISBN 0-86276-057-7.

External links

* [] Official Talking Heads fansite
*allmusicguide|id=Talking+Heads&opt1=1|label=Talking Heads
*Discogs artist|artist=Talking+Heads
* [ Talking Heads] at the dmoz Open Directory Project
*musicbrainz artist|id=a94a7155-c79d-4409-9fcf-220cb0e4dc3a|name=Talking Heads
* [ Talking Heads] at Rolling Stone
* [ Talking heads] at Incendiary magazine

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