Follow TV Tropes


Music / Talking Heads: 77

Go To
"We are vain and we are blind."

Talking Heads: 77 is the debut album from Talking Heads. It was released in 1977 through Sire Records. The band, formerly a trio of David Byrne (lead vocals, guitar), Tina Weymouth (bass, credited as "Martina Weymouth" on this album) and Chris Frantz (drums), had recently added keyboardist/guitarist Jerry Harrison, formerly of Jonathan Richman's The Modern Lovers. Produced with the intent of differentiating the album from the band's live performances, its unconventional rhythms & lyrics and distinctly anxious-yet-preppy tone immediately set the band apart from other Punk Rock and Post-Punk acts.

Producer Tony Bongiovi worked with The Ramones on Rocket to Russia, released the same year. He and engineer Lance Quinn would become associated with Bon Jovi, the band led by Bongiovi's cousin. The album peaked at no. 97 on the Billboard album charts, while reaching no. 60 on the U.K. chart.

The album was supported by four singles: "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town", "Psycho Killer", "Pulled Up", and "New Feeling"; the second-to-last of those was released only in the UK, and the last only in Australia. "Psycho Killer" peaked at no. 92 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Side One

  1. "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" (2:48)
  2. "New Feeling" (3:09)
  3. "Tentative Decisions" (3:04)
  4. "Happy Day" (3:55)
  5. "Who Is It?" (1:41)
  6. "No Compassion" (4:47)

Side Two

  1. "The Book I Read" (4:06)
  2. "Don't Worry About the Government" (3:00)
  3. "First Week/Last Week…Carefree" (3:19)
  4. "Psycho Killer" (4:19)
  5. "Pulled Up" (4:29)

The answer is obvious—tropes have come to town!:

  • Annual Title: The album title derives its "77" suffix from the year it came out, 1977.
  • Answer Cut: "Uh-Oh, Loves Comes To Town".
    Here come a riddle, here come a clue
    If you were really smart, you'd know what to do when I say
    Why am I going out of my head, whenever you're around?
    The answer is obvious, love has come to town
    • "Who Is It?" also reveals the person the singer is in love with in the final verse.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The narrator of "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" compares love causing him to make bad decisions to a jet pilot going out of control, a ship captain running aground...and a stockbroker making a bad investment.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Psycho Killer" has a few lines in French.
  • Book Ends: The album's opening track, "Uh-Oh Love Comes to Town", and its final track, "Pulled Up", are variations on the same base melody.
  • Broken Record: Fa fa fa fa fa fa far (...) Run run run run run run run run run away in "Psycho Killer".
  • Call-Back: David Byrne uses the ay ay ay chant a few times on this album.
  • The Ditherer: For all the talk on "Tentative Decisions" about being "concerned with decisiveness", no one decides anything.
  • Dramatic Pause: "New Feeling" has the protagonist leave dramatic pauses in the middle of his sentences.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The majority of the album is a lot bouncier and preppier than the sardonic Post-Punk-New Wave Music mix Talking Heads would later become known for; this was mainly the result of Executive Meddling, as producer Tony Bongiovi wanted to steer the band into playing pop music. Only "Psycho Killer" resembles Talking Heads' succeeding material, and it's perhaps because of this that it is frequently the only representative of Talking Heads: 77 heard in concert post-1979.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: The band pulls this on "No Compassion". Three times.
  • Gratuitous French: "Psycho Killer" has the recurrent "qu'est-ce que c'est" and most of the last verse:
    Ce que j'ai fais, ce soir la
    Ce qu'elle a dit, ce soir la
    Realisant mon espoir
    Je me lance, vers la gloire .
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • In "Don't Worry About the Government", the speaker insists that if anyone comes to visit him at his office, "I'll put down what I'm doing. My friends are important." This is after he's made plans to spend the rest of his life in that office.
    • The titular character in "Psycho Killer" admits "I hate people when they're not polite."
  • In the Style of: In the overtime portion of his 2023 60 Minutes interview, David Byrne described "Psycho Killer" as his approximation of an imagined collaboration between Alice Cooper and Randy Newman.
  • Lack of Empathy: "No Compassion".
    They say compassion is a virtue, but I don't have the time.
  • Lampshading: After "No Compassion" gets to the same lyrics it opened with, Byrne says: "Here We Go Again!."
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Who is It?" consists solely of a repetitive chorus sung three times, with a short bridge between the second and third instances.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" concerns the worry someone head over heels in love has that they'll start making bad decisions.
    Jet pilot gone out of control, ship captain run aground
    Stock broker make a bad investment when love has come to town
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Just the band name, colon and number "77" in neon green on a bright red background. The colors coincide with the "preppy" image the band had in its early years.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Who Is It?" is under two minutes.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Pulled Up".
    ''I was complaining, I was down in the dumps/
    I feel so strong now 'cause you pulled me up!''
  • Playing Sick: "Uh-Oh Love Comes To Town".
    I've called in sick I won't go to
    Work today
    I'd rather be with the one I love
    I neglect my duties, I be in trouble but
    I've been to college, I've been to school
    I've met the people that you read about in books
  • Rearrange the Song: "Tentative Decisions" originally had a faster tempo and lacked backing vocals, as heard in the band's early demo of the song. The slower tempo was at the suggestion of Lou Reed.
  • Re-Cut: 8-track releases of the album reshuffle the tracklist to account for the technical restrictions of the four-program format:
    • Initial 8-track releases feature the running order "Uh-Oh Love Comes to Town", "The Book I Read", "Don't Worry About the Government", "New Feeling", "Tentative Decisions", "First Week/Last Week... Carefree", "Happy Day", "Who Is It?", "Psycho Killer", "No Compassion", and "Pulled Up".
    • Later 8-track releases feature the running order "Uh-Oh Love Comes to Town", "Happy Day", "Don't Worry About the Government", "New Feeling", "Tentative Decisions", "First Week/Last Week... Carefree", "Who Is It?", "No Compassion", "The Book I Read", "Psycho Killer", and "Pulled Up". Additionally, "The Book I Read" is split into two parts due to it overlapping with the changeover between programs three and four.
  • Record Producer: Tony Bongiovi.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Psycho Killer", about what goes on inside the mind of a psychopathic serial murderer.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Who Is It?", "The Book I Read".
  • Stutter Stop: "Psycho Killer"
    Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better

"My interest level's dropping, my interest level is dropping
I've heard all I want to, I don't want to hear any more"