Left to right: Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison, David Byrne.
"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco This ain't no foolin' around"
—Talking Heads, Life During Wartime.
"Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily."
Talking Heads was an American rock band formed in 1974 in New York City
and active until 1991. The band comprised vocalist/guitarist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, bassist Tina Weymouth (married to Frantz), and guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison. Auxiliary musicians also frequently made appearances in concert and on the group's albums.The new wave musical style of Talking Heads combined elements of punk rock, avant-garde, pop, funk, afrobeat 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. The band worked with famous Record Producer Brian Eno
on all their albums between 1978-1980, whose influence steered them towards their Signature Style
dominated by incredibly dense, hypnotic funk grooves over which Byrne would improvise his vocals. They parted ways with Eno after their masterpiece Remain in Light
and continued with a Lighter and Softer
sound for the rest of their career, to increasing dissatisfaction from fans and critics. In 1986, they made a movie called True Stories
, starring Face of the Band
David Byrne as the narrator.
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.
- Talking Heads: 77 (1977)
- More Songs About Buildings And Food (1978)
- Fear of Music (1979)
- Remain in Light (1980)
- Speaking in Tongues (1983)
- Little Creatures (1985)
- True Stories (1986)
- Naked (1988)
- Sand in the Vaseline (1992 compilation)
- Academy Award: David Byrne won an Oscar for The Last Emperor.
- After the End: "(Nothing But) Flowers".
- Animated Music Video
- Anti-Love Song: "I'm Not in Love".
- The Band Minus the Face: No Talking Just Head, a 1996 album by The Heads (the band minus Byrne), with a different vocalist on each of the tracks. Byrne sued them so they couldn't tour under the name.
- Bowties Are Cool "Once in a Lifetime."
- Breakup Breakout: David Byrne has had a successful solo career since the breakup of the band, while Jerry Harrison has become a successful Record Producer.
- Captain Obvious: Lots of lovable instances in the lyrics. Works in a weird, unexplainable way. Are you aware, for example, that "there is water at the bottom of the ocean"?
- Cloudcuckoolander: David Byrne comes across as one.
- Control Freak: The other band members claim Byrne caused the band's breakup by being one. He admitted as much on the DVD commentary to Stop Making Sense.
- Conveyor Belt Video: "And She Was"
- Darker and Edgier: Fear of Music.
- The Eighties
- Everyone Went to School Together: Weymouth, Frantz, and Byrne were all students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and had started another band together (The Artistics) there before moving to New York and (after a little while) becoming Talking Heads.
- Fake Guest Star: Bernie Worrell, a funk musician known for his work with Parliament-Funkadelic, was never an official member of the band, but performed with them for virtually their entire existence, and is usually regarded as the de facto fifth member.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: "No Compassion"
- Funk: An important influence on their style. To underscore this, the backing musicians who accompany them on their Stop Making Sense album/concert movie are all funk musicians affilliated with Parliament-Funkadelic.
- Flyover Country: "The Big Country".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "And She Was", one of their biggest hit singles, is about a drug trip.
- Gratuitous French: "Psycho Killer".
- Happily Married: Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz.
- Heavy Meta: "Electric Guitar".
- I Am the Band: Byrne is a notorious example.
- Iconic Outfit: Byrne's gigantic suit from Stop Making Sense, which "Weird Al" Yankovic later parodied in his spoof of them, "Dog Eat Dog".
- Idiosyncratic Album Naming: Their live The Name of This Band is Talking Heads stems from Byrne announcing the next songs as "The name of this song is [insert song title here]".
- It was also named that way because David Byrne was frustrated by people adding a 'The' to the band's name when there wasn't supposed to be one.
- In The Style Of: "The Overload" is in the style of Joy Division, but because Talking Heads had never listened to the band, it was based on what the music press wrote about them. Impressively, it's not far-off from how Joy Division actually sounded, although when the Heads finally heard Joy Division they were disappointed — they thought the Manchester band was a lot more conventional than they'd been led to imagine.
- Jerk Ass: The other members, notably Tina Weymouth as described below, think David Byrne is one.
- Large Ham: David Byrne, resulting in such gems as "Don't you miss it! Don't you miss it! Some of you people just about missed it!" and "And you may say to yourself, 'My God, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?'".
- Lyrical Dissonance
- Marionette Motion
- Military Brat: Both Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. Her dad was an admiral.
- Milking the Giant Cow: In the video for "Once in a Lifetime," David Byrne does this while shouting 'My God, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?'", going along with the Large Ham tendencies noted above.
- The Movie: True Stories, directed by David Byrne.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Who else but Byrne could write lyrics about civil servants and buildings with such conviction?
- My God, WHAT HAVE I... Okay, this is becoming an Overly-Long Gag now.
- New Sound Album: Remain In Light and Little Creatures. Lampshaded by David Byrne in the first appearance of the expanded touring band, saying "We don't sound like we used to."
- Non-Appearing Title: "Life During Wartime" and "New Feeling", among others.
- Notable Music Videos: Once in a Lifetime, Burning Down the House, Wild, Wild Life.
- Pop-Star Composer: David Byrne composed the scores for several films and theatrical productions, most notably The Last Emperor.
- Self-Deprecation: The name of More Songs About Buildings and Food was the result of writer's block when it came to choosing the title of the album; Tina Weymouth suggested it as a joke about the out-there subject matter of some of their songs from the first album.
- Shout-Out: A spectacularly obscure one in the video for "Once In A Lifetime" — During his time at the Rhode Island School of Design, David Byrne worked at a "New York System" hot dog stand in Providence. The up-the-arm chopping motion from his weird, twitchy dancing exactly matches the procedure for putting toppings on a row of short, chili-soaked hot dogs.
- The fighter planes depicted on Remain in Light's back cover are a reference to Tina Weymouth's Military Brat family background.
- Spell My Name Without A The: There is no "the" in "Talking Heads". Referred to in the title of their live album The Name of This Band is Talking Heads.
- The Seventies, The Eighties
- Spinoff: Frantz and Weymouth's Tom Tom Club.
- Surreal Music Video
- Textless Album Cover: More Songs about Buildings and Food.
- Title Only Chorus: "Blind" whose chorus uses the single word title fourteen times each verse.
- Tsundere: Tina Weymouth was reportedly obsessed with Byrne in the band's early days, and now takes the opportunity to publicly badmouth him every chance she gets.
- While all members have their grudges against Byrne, she was the most outspoken about it (being asked why they wouldn't reform, she described Byrne as a man "incapable of returning friendship").
- Utopia: Deconstructed with "Nothing But Flowers", where the singer is utterly bored by the paradisical garden world he's stuck in.
- Wanderlust Song: Road To Nowhere may or may not be this.
- Word Salad Lyrics: David Byrne is fond of these. "Burning Down The House", for example, is just a list of phrases that fit the rhythm he had composed and loosely fit together thematically..
Same as it ever was. Waldorf:
Same as it ever was. Statler:
Yeah... Both, in unison: Terrible!
Doh ho ho ho...