Fear of Music is the third album from Talking Heads, released in 1979. It is their second of three albums produced by Brian Eno, and has an unusual recording history, rehearsals and many of the initial recording sessions having taken place at the loft apartment of married band members Tina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz (drums). The album peaked at number 21 on Billboard's album chart, and was eventually certified gold (sales of over 500,000 copies) by the RIAA.
The album was recorded in Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz's loft, using The Record Plant's mobile recording truck. True to the title, critics noted the darker tone of the songs in Fear of Music.
The legacy of Fear of Music is great enough for the album to have an entire book dedicated to it, an entry in Bloomsbury Publishing's 33⅓ series written by Jonathan Lethem.
- "I Zimbra" - 3:09
- "Mind" - 4:13
- "Paper" - 2:39
- "Cities" - 4:10
- "Life During Wartime" - 3:41
- "Memories Can't Wait" - 3:30
- "Air" - 3:34
- "Heaven" - 4:01
- "Animals" - 3:30
- "Electric Guitar" - 3:03
- "Drugs" - 5:10
"No time for troping, or lovey-dovey, I ain't got time for that now!":
- Darker and Edgier: The musical and lyrical tone is a lot more tense and paranoid compared to the first two albums. On 77 and More Songs About Buildings and Food, the singer was needlessly anxious and uptight, and the point of many of the songs was to calm him down and reassure him that things would work out. On this album, the singer wants to be calmed down but the world is going to hell. Compare "Drugs" with its original incarnation, "Electricity", which can be heard on the CD version of The Name of this Band.... "Electricity" is a mid-tempo country-styled song; "Drugs" is sparse and nightmarish (at least until the point where Byrne laughs.)
- Drugs Are Bad: "Drugs", of course.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Paper", which is about a piece of paper.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: The subject of "Air".
- Fade In: "Cities" does this.
- Fade Out: Both "Cities" and "Life During Wartime" do this, making the stories of each song seem endless.
- Feelies: Vinyl copies of the album cover were embossed in a pattern similar to industrial diamond-plated metal flooring.
- In Medias Res: "Drugs" starts with the phrase "And all I see are little dots", suggesting that this is far from the start of the song's rambling narrative.
- La Résistance: "Life During Wartime" is about people who at least see themselves as this.
- Longest Song Goes Last: "Drugs", clocking in at 5:10.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The band name and album title are printed on a facsimile of tread plate flooring, embossed on the original LP cover.
- Mundane Afterlife: "Heaven is a place/A place where nothing/Nothing ever happens."
- Mundane Made Awesome: "Paper" is an epic song about a piece of paper.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Life During Wartime" and "Drugs".
- One-Word Title: "Mind", "Paper", "Cities", "Air", "Heaven", "Animals" and "Drugs".
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "I Zimbra", an afrobeat track placed in the middle of what was, at the time, an overtly-Post-Punk oeuvre; Talking Heads would end up incorporating afrobeat into their next two albums.
- Phobia: The album title, and also the record's overall theme.
- Precision F-Strike: David Byrne drops an instance of "shit" on "Animals", in stark contrast to his normally clean-mouthed lyrics. He also utters "shit" in the live performance of "Air" captured on The Name of This Band is Talking Heads.
- Record Producer: Brian Eno.
- Revisiting the Roots: The band recorded the album in the loft that Frantz, Weymouth and Byrne shared when they first started the band.
- Sanity Slippage Song: Byrne's vocal becomes progressively unhinged during "Animals".
- The Scapegoat: The eponymous creatures in "Animals", which itself acts as a satire on real-life scapegoating of social demographics.
- Scatting: "I Zimbra". In this case the Simlish was created by German Dadaist Hugo Ball.
- Serious Business:
- Tuning an electric guitar is both "a crime against the state" and "the meaning of life".
- Animals are "never there when you need them".
- "Life During Wartime":This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around
- Special Guest: Robert Fripp plays guitar on "I Zimbra".
- War Is Hell: "Life During Wartime".The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,I'm getting used to it nowLived in a brownstone, I lived in a ghetto,I've lived all over this townThis ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' aroundNo time for dancing, or lovey-dovey, I ain't got time for that now