Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, released in 2008, is the second collaborative album by Scottish-American art pop musician David Byrne and English ambient musician Brian Eno. Marking Byrne's eighth studio album overall, the album brings the duo together again for the first time since Talking Heads' Remain in Light in 1980 and the earlier-made-but-later-released My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in 1981— in fact, this album directly owes its existence to that latter one.
Byrne and Eno reconvened in 2006 to put together the 25th anniversary expanded edition of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and during a dinner meeting, Eno mentioned that he'd been going through some demo recordings that stretched back as far as eight years and was considering adding vocals to them. Not being a fan of singing his own material, having abandoned his early art rock sound in the late 70's partly because of that, Eno suggested that Byrne be the one to help finish them up. The pair had repeatedly flirted with the idea of collaborating again for several years, and although they initially planned to work on only a few of these demos at most, they eventually grew confident enough to expand it into a full album.
Put together in sporadic sessions over the course of two years (owed to both the physical distance between the pair and their simultaneous work on other projects), this album marks a noticeable shift in both artists' styles, incorporating significant electronic and gospel elements removed from both the mostly acoustic Baroque Pop of Byrne's previous solo album, Grown Backwards, and the ambient material that comprises the majority of Eno's portfolio. With the onset of the 2007 financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession, coupled with the simultaneous commodification of the internet, the duo decided to take this approach and center it around themes of humanity versus technology and the perseverance of optimism in the face of increasingly bleak circumstances, with Byrne's lyrics about the latter being influenced by What Is the What, Dave Eggers' 2006 biography of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng. This thematic direction would in turn set the tone for Byrne's later work that would culminate in his "Reasons to Be Cheerful" project and American Utopia in 2018.
Fitting with the expansion of the internet in people's lives, Byrne and Eno decided to eschew traditional marketing for the album, in particular avoiding any promotional releases aside from a single live performance of "One Fine Day" for a crowd of senior citizens. Instead, the pair hired Topspin Media to run a viral marketing campaign that advertised the project through word of mouth. Additionally, taking note of Radiohead's unconventional release strategy for In Rainbows, the pair had the album self-released online at exactly 4:00:00 UTC on August 18, 2008. Consumers could also order physical copies of the album, which were delivered by mail within the next three months, after which independent distributors were given further print runs to stock in brick and mortar stores. At the end of the year, the album was released on LP, marking Byrne's first vinyl release since Uh-Oh all the way back in 1992 (and just in time for the Vinyl Revival).
Everything That Happens Will Happen Today was supported by two singles: "Strange Overtones" and "One Fine Day".
- "Home" (5:06)
- "My Big Nurse" (3:21)
- "I Feel My Stuff" (6:25)
- "Everything That Happens" (3:46)
- "Life Is Long" (3:45)
- "The River" (2:30)
- "Strange Overtones" (4:17)
- "Wanted for Life" (5:06)
- "One Fine Day" (4:55)
- "Poor Boy" (4:19)
- "The Lighthouse" (3:46)
In these troubled times, I still can trope:
- Album Closure: "The Lighthouse" closes out the album by using a story about building a paper house by the damp beach as a metaphor for the Central Theme of optimism and its perseverance.
- Album Title Drop: The album title forms a line in "Everything That Happens".
- Boléro Effect: "I Feel My Stuff", which opens with quiet piano and electric drums before gradually building up with electric guitar, distorted vocals, buzzing synths, and other percussion instruments as it goes on.
- Central Theme: Two of them: the first is the interplay between man and technology, and the second (and more significant one) is the perseverance of optimism in a bleak world.
- Color Motifs: Tying in with Byrne's longtime association with the color red, the house that appears throughout the album art sports a red brick exterior.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The album art consists of an elaborate CGI suburban house designed by prior Byrne collaborator Stefan Sagmeister, who was inspired by the music to create a setting that was equal parts familiarly domestic and unsettlingly dark. The deluxe edition takes things a step further, being a physical tin sculpted in the house's image that activates a pre-recorded clip of opening the door and walking inside when the lid is removed.
- Fading into the Next Song: The end of "Poor Boy" segues directly into the start of "The Lighthouse".
- Feelies: In addition to its elaborate outer tin, the deluxe addition comes packaged with a six-sided die with nonsense phrases on each face, a sugar pill, and a bonus disc of additional songs.
- Gospel Music: A major influence on this album, stretching back to Eno's fascination with the genre during his days producing Talking Heads in the late 70's. "Everything That Happens", "Life Is Long", "Strange Overtones", and "One Fine Day" most prominently make use of the style, to the point where the performance of the latter in David Byrne's American Utopia features the backing musicians forming an impromptu choir with Byrne.
- Gratuitous Panning: Byrne's vocals in "Poor Boy" alternate between channels with each succeeding line.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the album is much more accessible and upbeat. Among other things, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today actually has conventional vocals and lyrics instead of using found audio of media personalities and priests, the music is upbeat and danceable instead of forebodingly trancelike, and the lyrics cover themes of optimism instead of the chaos and strangeness of urban life.
- Long Title: Like My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today doesn't shoot for brevity with its name. In fact, while it's only a word shorter, in terms of character count it's even longer, at 41 characters compared to its predecessor's 29 (counting spaces).
- New Sound Album: A three-way example: the electro-gospel style is a significant deviation from the mostly acoustic Baroque Pop of Byrne's previous solo album, Grown Backwards, the tranquil ambient music of Eno's solo output, and the sample-driven avant-funk of the pair's previous collaborative album, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The album art is CG art of a house with a pond in the back yard. It's completely deserted, except for a shadowy figure in an upper story window, looking through binoculars. There are a number of unsettling details upon closer inspection— an open box of bandages on a table, a discarded condom wrapper in a rain gutter, a thick metal door on the living room wall— but nothing that truly explains what's going on in the house.
- One-Word Title: "Home"
- Packaged as Other Medium: The standard CD release is made to look like a real estate brochure, with a wide shot of a house exterior on the front and various up-close pictures and interior shots within the liner notes, interspersed with lyrics in place of descriptive text.
- The Pollyanna: The whole album centers around this, focusing primarily on the ability to stay optimistic in the face of the Great Recession and all the other chaos that occurred throughout the past decade.
- Red/Green Contrast: The brick red exterior of the house on the cover pops out against the green backdrop of the grass and trees.
- Self-Deprecation: "Poor Boy" features Byrne taking a lighthearted jab at his fondness for Word Salad Lyrics with the line "I love talking funny, it's the only song I know."
- "Life is Long" uses the classic "♪ 𝄾 ♪ 𝄾 ♫ ♪ 𝄾 ♫ ♫ 𝄾 ♫ 𝄾" football chant rhythm for its percussion track.
- "The River" namedrops both "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke and Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music.
- Special Guest:
- Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker plays uncredited guitar on the album.
- Former Soft Machine drummer and vocalist Robert Wyatt plays drums on both "Strange Overtones" and the deluxe edition-exclusive "Never Thought".
- Fellow Roxy Music alum Phil Manzanera provides drone guitar on "I Feel My Stuff".
- Polar Bear drummer and frontman Seb Rochford provides live drum parts throughout the album.
- Textless Album Cover: The artist names and album title appear on a shrinkwrap sticker and the inside packaging, but not on the front cover itself.
- Title Track: Sorta— "Everything That Happens" has the first part of the album name, but the second only appears in the lyrics.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: "Everything That Happens" features the narrator offhandedly mentioning seeing his neighbor's car explode on the freeway, in the same tone of voice as describing the sound of hearing someone laughing.