"Hi. I've got a tape I want to play."
August 1, 2011 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Over three nights at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in December 1983, Jonathan Demme filmed Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense. The band performed "Psycho Killer," "Heaven," "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel," "Found a Job," "Slippery People," "Cities,", "Burning Down the House," "Life During Wartime," "Making Flippy Floppy," "Swamp," "What a Day That Was," "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)," "Once in a Lifetime," "Big Business/I Zimbra," "Genius of Love" (as Tom Tom Club while David Byrne changed into the Big Suit), "Girlfriend is Better," "Take Me to the River," and "Crosseyed and Painless."
"Thank you. Does anybody have any questions?"

Why "Stop Making Sense"?
"Because it's good advice. Because music and performing does not make sense. It is my job." 1 ("Stop making sense" is a lyric in "Girlfriend Is Better.")
Why a movie?
"We were thinking about making a recording of the performance and then Jonathan Demme came along and said, 'I think you guys should make a film of this.'...We knew who he was from the first movie, the Howard Hughes movie. What was that called?" 2 Then best known for Melvin and Howard, Jonathan Demme's directoral debut was 1974's Caged Heat; he had made Citizens Band, Fighting Mad, Crazy Mama, Last Embrace, and Swing Shift before filming Stop Making Sense. "The visual design of the show itself is obviously highly cinematic. I think all the members of the band are unusually charismatic, hard-working, and exciting to watch. Beyond that, I thought the show had a funny kind of narrative feeling to me, one that I can't describe - one that I don't even care to try to describe - but I had a feeling I was seeing some kind of story, that I was meeting a group of characters as David attacked each new song." 3
Why tour?
"When there is something new to say to an audience, then we'll tour again. Besides new songs, when the only way to say that thing is through a live performance making." 1 (Stop Making Sense was filmed during the tour for Speaking in Tongues, which was Talking Heads' last tour.)
Why do the musicians come out gradually?
"Well, if the curtain opened and everything was there there'd be nowhere to go. It tells the story of the band and it gets more dramatic and physical as it builds up." 1 "After Byrne's solo, the eight other members of the group come on gradually, by ones and twos, in the order in which they originally joined up with him, so you see the band take form." 4
Where do the odd movements come from?
David Byrne's dancing with a lamp during "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" is reminiscent of Fred Astaire dancing with a coat rack in Royal Wedding. His jerky movements during "Psycho Killer" may have been inspired by at Paul Belmondo at the end of Breathless (1960). The movements in "Once in a Lifetime" come from the original video.
Why no "special effects" in the movie?
"I thought that any special cinematic effects would intrude on the richness of the pure performance. Therefore I didn't want to get into that, and didn't." 3
Why a big suit?
"I like symmetry and geometric shapes. I wanted my head to appear smaller, and the easiest way to do that was to make my body bigger. Because music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head." 1 "I drew this thing that looked like a Kabuki costume, which is also very rectangular. And the person's head looks like a very small ball. But I thought, What if you take that kind of silhouette, but put it in a Western business suit? I became fascinated with the idea of taking things that look very everyday or commonplace and stretching that in some way, rather than making something totally fantastic and imaginary. I like to restrict myself, OK? It has to look like a suit, even if it's pink fur. It makes reference to the businessman. It has some kind of psychological meaning besides being a costume. He is lost in his suit. Or his suit is swallowing him. It implies all these other things that a wild fantasy costume wouldn't say." 5
("How a big suit" previously on Ask MEtaFilter.)
Why was a digital system used for the sound?
Stop Making Sense was "the first time that a film used complete digital audio technology."
What will the band do next?
"A project with songs based on true stories from tabloid newspapers. It's like 60 Minutes on acid." 1 The band recorded Little Creatures before they got to True Stories.
Sources for quotes:
  1. David Byrne interviewing David Byrne in a promo for the movie (transcript). It's like 60 Minutes on acid.
  2. "Talking Heads' Chris Frantz on 25 years of 'Stop Making Sense' and the possibility of a Heads reunion" [get used to disappointment about a reunion]
  3. "Start Making Sense: an Interview with Jonathan Demme"
  4. "Three Cheers," Pauline Kael, The New Yorker, November 26, 1984
  5. David Byrne at the Ear Inn
Talking Heads David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth were joined by Bernie Worrell (keyboards), Alex Weir (guitar, vocals), Steve Scales (percussion), Ednah Holt (backing vocals), and Lynn Mabry (backing vocals). Steve Scales and Bernie Worrell had previously played on The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads; Scales, Worrell, and Alex Weir had also played on Speaking in Tongues.

"Cities" and "Big Business/I Zimbra" were cut from the theatrical release of the movie and were restored as bonus features for the 1999 DVD release. The soundtrack was originally released in 1984 with nine songs ("Psycho Killer," "Swamp," "Slippery People," "Burning Down the House," "Girlfriend Is Better," "Once in a Lifetime," "What a Day That Was," "Life During Wartime," and "Take Me to the River"). The 1999 Special New Edition added "Heaven," "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel," "Found a Job," "Making Flippy Floppy," "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)," "Genius of Love" [Tom Tom Club], and "Crosseyed and Painless" and changed the order of songs to match the movie. The set list for the tour also included "Love Goes to Building on Fire," "The Book I Read," "Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open)," "Houses in Motion," and "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town," but they didn't appear in the movie or on the soundtrack.

The opening credits were designed by longtime graphic- and film titles designer Pablo Ferro and are similar to his opening credits for Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Interview with Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth in 1999 for the 15th anniversary re-release.

New York Times review: "Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense," by Janet Maslin, October 19, 1984
posted by kirkaracha (65 comments total) 144 users marked this as a favorite

 
Friends tell me that watching that show while baked is an amazing experience. Ahem.
posted by lydhre at 6:46 AM on August 1, 2011


This is not my beautiful post.

...but it's yours and it's great!
posted by storybored at 6:47 AM on August 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


How on earth did you know I've been playing the "Slippery People" track to absolute death these days?...

Watching the film, it sort of feels like the film also caught the band when they were at their absolute highwater mark - after they'd amassed a great catalog of songs and were all at the top of their game, but before David Byrne just got too weird for the others. And Demme focusing on the band alone during the film (he almost never showed the audience) was a great move -- because you get to see just how much FUN everyone's having.

I think I mentioned during another Talking-Heads post a few weeks ago that my father uses this soundtrack as cooking music quite frequently.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:49 AM on August 1, 2011


Oh -- and a friend of mine made a very passable "Big Suit" one year for Halloween -- he got the biggest Big-n-Tall size suit he could find at a Salvation Army and then used rulers or something taped to his own shoulders to extend the suit out. It worked well for Halloween Costuming purposes. Try it at home!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 AM on August 1, 2011


Stop Making Sense has long been one of my all time favorite CDs and concert movies. I regularly danced my daughter around the room in my arms while listening to that CD, from the time she was a baby. Now 21, her latest tattoo says "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco!" as an homage to her childhood "daddy-dances."
posted by The Deej at 6:56 AM on August 1, 2011 [18 favorites]


I was editing a little (way little) rock magazine in Boston when the movie came out. One of my film writers had some kind of contact with Demme so he was able to get an interview (we also had an interview with Tina Weymouth). After the issue came out we got a nice thank you note form Demme--which I just lost a few months ago when our basement got flooded. Sob. I remember that our film writer told me the movie was good because it had "narrative pulse," which is still an in-joke between my friend Reid Fleming and myself. Although I have to say, I kinda know what he meant. (He also praised Footlose for its "homo-erotic iconography." I guess some people are born to be film critics.)
posted by Man-Thing at 6:57 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


My kids had a thing for the movie, too. They would sit in front of the TV when it was on and drum on plastic tubs with kitchen utensils. They referred to Byrne as "the sweaty guy."
posted by Man-Thing at 6:59 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Friends tell me that watching that show while baked is an amazing experience. Ahem.

gedoudahere!
posted by the noob at 6:59 AM on August 1, 2011


I flew into Providence a few yours ago to see a friend, and as we were driving around on our way to get coffee downtown, he was pointing out sights, and when he got to "and there's RSDI," I just about leapt out of the car and shouted "That's where the Talking Heads all met!!" He just sighed and gave me a solid Massachusetts "Oh, geez." Yeah, I'm one of those.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:06 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Favorite. Concert. Film. EVER.
posted by jscalzi at 7:06 AM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


If all intellectual weirdos could rock like that! Must get around to ripping that VHS, one day it will break in the player or the player will croak at last and not even the Salvation Army thrift store will have another. Re. Byrne's outside projects, I once had a supposedly legitimate password for downloading the Bush of Ghosts tracks that he and Eno briefly made available but I never got it to work. Whargarble. But super post, thanks!
posted by jfuller at 7:13 AM on August 1, 2011


Must get around to ripping that VHS

Nah, just get the DVD.
posted by The Deej at 7:17 AM on August 1, 2011


I was too young to go and see this in the theatre alone (Not sure if there was an age-limit or if I was just not of going-alone-to-the-movies age yet) so I remember nagging my mom to go see it with me. She was surprised at how much she enjoyed it and we danced all the way home singing "This ain't no party! This ain't no disco!"
posted by dabitch at 7:26 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


She was surprised at how much she enjoyed it and we danced all the way home singing "This ain't no party! This ain't no disco!"

My father was the first Stop Making Sense fan -- my parents brought my brother and I to a couple of big splashy concerts when we were "tweens", including Tina Turner's "Private Dancer" tour. But while the roadies were setting up for Tina, they were playing the Stop Making Sense soundtrack -- and my father was listening in fascination, until about halfway through "Girlfriend Is Better" he turned to the rest of us and said, "Somebody get this album for me for my birthday next month." And when we did, he played the hell out of it to bring the rest of us under its thrall.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:32 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


LOVE this movie and post. Thanks! (Though Pauline Kael's got her band member chronology mixed up. As if Tina joined before Chris...)

Also, regarding a REUNION: I know, I know - impossible. Never gonna happen. Well... According to Stephen Tobolowsky (DB acquaintance & collaborator on 'True Stories') there is a possibility of a reunion tour this year to commemorate the 25th anniversary of 'True Stories.' Maybe he's yanking our collective chain, but he does make the claim. Here. (50 minutes in)

[Thanks to Bora Horza Gobuchul for the impossibly amazing post on the Stephen Tobolowsky/Talking Heads/Radiohead Connection. You should really listen to the whole podcast when you've got an hour.]
posted by rough at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2011


Steve Scales pops up in a a terrific scene in Demme's next movie, Something Wild.
posted by Iridic at 7:42 AM on August 1, 2011


Stop Making Sense was the soundtrack of my senior year in high school. I have a lot of great memories (and a few not-so-great ones, alas) associated with it. Thanks for the post and reminding me that I need to get the updated album with the extra songs.
posted by immlass at 8:19 AM on August 1, 2011


One of the things that I will never stop kicking myself for was that Talking Heads rented my local music venue for 3 weeks to work on this show, and then opened the tour there. And I skipped it.
posted by Danf at 8:24 AM on August 1, 2011


Also, regarding a REUNION: I know, I know - impossible. Never gonna happen.

A couple of years ago, David Byrne toured the music of himself and Brian Eno, and we were lucky enough to see him at the Melkweg here in Amsterdam. The tour was partly to promote Everything that Happens Will Happen Today, but as you can see from the setlist (oh my, two years ago tomorrow), most of the performance came from Talking Heads in their Eno period. Since Mrs Daveje and myself were too young to see Talking Heads in their pomp, seeing David Byrne perform those songs was more than we'd ever hoped to see. Each time a Talking Heads song started, we would clutch each other, tears would form, and we'd go "he's doing this one!" So, 12 times each, in fact.

If Talking Heads actually did reform, I think our heads would explode.
posted by daveje at 8:24 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the spring of 1989, I was 14 years old. From time to time my older teenage uncle, aunt and I would go to a concert together. At that point I had been to three shows: the Monkees 86 reunion tour, INXS, and Robert Palmer (the latter two oddly both being opened up for by Steele Pulse. Go figure)
So when my uncle couldn't get us Bon Jovi tickets, I was naturally gutted. This was my Next Big Show. "No worries", he said. "We will get tickets to R.E.M. instead"
I wasn't terribly familiar with R.E.M. but I NEEDED to go to another concert, being in that transitional period a lot of kids I suspect go through where you make the jump from the edgier end of the top 40 stuff (I was proud of myself for being into obscure bands like OMD and Icehouse dontchaknow) to stuff that is on the lower rungs of being actually challenging. At least for American College Rock of the time.
So now I have to start staying up late to watch "post modern" videos on MTV just to be able to see R.E.M. videos. And that's when they played the clip from SMS for (I believe) "Life During Wartime". Now THAT was a revelation. To my 14 year old ears weaned on Johny Hates Jazz and Fine Young Cannibals, it wasnt like anything I'd heard before. And the lyrics were brilliant. It existed in that valley of "I'm not even sure I like this" and "I need to hear this way more times"
So my uncle makes me a dub of the VHS that looks like it was shot through a greasy window (for years I thought it was HAWT that Tina was wearing such a short skirt, even if she did have really lumpy legs) but it SOUNDS perfect and that's the important thing.
It might sound silly in retrospect since SMS isn't a particularly hard bunch of music to listen to, but for a 14 year old in Omaha in 1988 it was like hiding out invisibly at the coolest adult cocktail party ever. I didn't understand half the words or ideas but I knew I liked them and was determined to use whatever was in there to get my bearings to decode the rest of it. And what'smore is that it was the first time I experienced a piece of music opening up on repeat listens. So much musical omnivorousness resulted from that one record and I guarantee that there are lots of truly challenging records/artists I would run into later on that I would give extra chances to grab me BECAUSE of how SMS had affected me.
So yeah, I'm rambling. On my iPhone on the light rail no less. On preview this post might not even make linear sense.
In conclusion: Stop Making Sense was a key to a giant world of art and music and ideas for me. They are very very very very good for Christmas. The end.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:28 AM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


seeing David Byrne perform those songs was more than we'd ever hoped to see

We saw this tour (twice, at ACL and then in Houston the next summer) and felt the same way.
posted by immlass at 8:48 AM on August 1, 2011


We saw Byrne in 1997 and the set was chock full of TH songs. Was terrific and really spirited. You could tell that he still had a lot of affection for those songs and wasnt just playing them to get them out of the way for the fans.

That was the tour where he wore his Mr. Goodbody suit. We met him afterwards and he was supernice and very friendly. Tiny guy too. I always imagined him being this towering lanky Lurch-like fellow, but he was shorter than me and Im only 5'10"
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:51 AM on August 1, 2011


P.S. this is an incredible battleship of an FPP. Tremendous work kirkaracha!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:52 AM on August 1, 2011


So now I have to start staying up late to watch "post modern" videos on MTV just to be able to see R.E.M. videos. And that's when they played the clip from SMS for (I believe) "Life During Wartime". Now THAT was a revelation. To my 14 year old ears weaned on Johny Hates Jazz and Fine Young Cannibals, it wasn't like anything I'd heard before.

That's sort of the way I felt the first time I saw the video for "Crosseyed and Painless." A lot of music around that same time had that same sense of discovery -- what the hell is going on here, and wow is this freaking amazing! But even so, this video just fucked with my head in ways I couldn't describe even now. I went off to college and "Stop Making Sense" (the soundtrack and the movie) were everywhere in a way that they had not been in high school. I sort of had that moment of "Yeah I'm in college" when I started hearing Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Costello coming out of every dorm room whereas I'd almost never heard them anywhere in my inner-city high school.

Great post, thank you!
posted by blucevalo at 8:55 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I used to put this video on when my daughter was little and we'd run in place next to each other trying to keep up with David Byrne and the backup singers.
posted by Sailormom at 8:58 AM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, Talking Heads is in my list of bands that I just wish wish wish I could've seen. "Love -> Building on Fire" is my favorite.
posted by MaDonna Flowers at 9:14 AM on August 1, 2011


Stop Making Sense was introduced to me by Steven Wright, one of the English professors at Beloit College. In return, I made him a pretty stellar They Might Be Giants mix. I think we both grew from that exchange.

(This Must Be The Place is far and away my favorite track on this album).
posted by gc at 9:41 AM on August 1, 2011


I've learned that, in a world where Dinosaur Jr. actually reunited, not to mention Pixies and Pavement, it isn't outside the realm of possibility that your favorite band who broke up under less than amicable circumstances could get together again. Perhaps unlikely, but not impossible.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 9:44 AM on August 1, 2011


I saw 'em in about '83 I think they were touring behind the live album that came out around then. They played a ton of Remain in Light & quite a few songs off of The Catherine Wheel, which was fantastic and unexpected. Tina Weymouth was at least 7 months pregnant, and I've always wondered how all that thumping bass affected the kid. It was an absolutely amazing show -- outdoors on one of the surprisingly abundant beautiful spring days we had that year. Some of the best memories of my life anchor around that spring.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:44 AM on August 1, 2011


Favorited on general principle. Back in elementary school a friend took me along to a double feature: Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense" and I've been a Talking Heads fan ever since. See this on the big screen if you ever get a chance.
posted by Songdog at 9:45 AM on August 1, 2011


Great post great movie great band. I saw Talking Heads on this tour in Clarkston, MI (second time I saw them!). It was probably the best concert I've ever been to, or will ever go to.

It was an outdoor venue, it was still light outside, and the show started exactly on time. People were still milling around and arriving when Byrne strode out on stage with his guitar and the boombox, and then adding the band members one by one. My god. It was raining and the crowd was going wild. They did all their planned encores and then they came back out and did "Burning Down the House" AGAIN only it was a lot looser than in the regular set and a big old jam in the middle and fuck I wish I had a recording of that.

*pants*
posted by marxchivist at 9:52 AM on August 1, 2011


Last week, Talking Heads went mainstream (not Photoshopped).
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:03 AM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I live in the best town ever where there is an outdoor cinema every Saturday in the summer at the elementary school two blocks away from my house. A few weeks ago they played Stop Making Sense and it was absolutely magical. I'm a bit too young (ahem) to have seen the Talking Heads at their peak (though I have seen David Byrne live) and people were treating it as if it were an actual concert, dancing up a storm in the front, singing along, clapping and cheering when they realized what the next song was. It felt pretty darn close to actually being there. So, thanks guys.
posted by Polyhymnia at 10:33 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


cottoncandybeard: "it isn't outside the realm of possibility that your favorite band who broke up under less than amicable circumstances could get together again"

Not to mention The Eagles and The Police.
posted by Bonzai at 10:37 AM on August 1, 2011


I'm listening to the album (remastered version with additional tracks over the movie) RIGHT NOW. Kismet. It's probably my favorite live album of all. At least right now.
posted by zomg at 11:29 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Talking Heads make me deeply, deeply happy.

I put on the Stop Making Sense DVD when it's time to clean house. David Byrne dances with a lamp, and I dance with the vacuum cleaner, and all is right with the world.
posted by rewil at 11:49 AM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


What a coincidence. I watched another Jonathan Demme concert film just last night, Storefront Hitchcock (it's on Netflix and some of it's on YouTube). Kind of a counterpoint to Stop Making Sense. Instead of showcasing a band and making them literally larger than life, Demme does just the opposite -- he distills Robyn Hitchcock's performance to its essence, just the man and his guitar (and sometimes minimal accompanists) and his wonderful, surreal, between-song nattering. I wish Demme would keep making interesting concert films. I'd keep watching them.

As for the Talking Heads, I was talking with a friend the other day and we were in full-on "kids today grar grar grar" mode and he said something that stuck with me:

"It's chilling to think how many 20-something indie kids have never sat down and listened to Fear of Music in its entirety."

Truth.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:57 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Back when I got my very first Walkman, I immediately recorded my copy of Fear of Music onto cassette and listened to the thing nonstop all summer as my personal soundtrack.

And, yes, Stop Making Sense is the greatest concert film evar.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:19 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previous to that, Thorzdad had so many problems.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:35 PM on August 1, 2011


Bitteroldpunk, this may shock you but the 20-something's right now are all over Talking Heads.
I guess they gateway'd in through Arcade Fire and LCD but I know a ton of 20somehings that are really into Talking Heads now. Been that way the last few years actually. And they all love that 77-83 period most it seems.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:38 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's true, my kids (21/19/14ohgodwhatafingpaininthebutt) all love the Heads and will spontaneously start dancing when they come on.
posted by zomg at 12:44 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Life During Wartime is an amazing karaoke song. Getting Byrne-weird on the mic feels so good.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:46 PM on August 1, 2011


Hahaha. I just popped on Fear of Music in my office to eat lunch to and our 19 year old intern hears it and pokes his head in and says "this is one of my all-time favorite records"

Ha. For real. Literally just now.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:58 PM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aw, loving all the multi-generational Talking Heads luv. It's true though- I'm old enough to have seen them on this tour (OMG yes it was that good. Stood about 5 rows back at the old Compton Terrace in Phx, in the middle of the Tina (TINA!) cheering section. Great show to see as a 17-yr-old. However it did set a pretty impossible standard...)

SO ANYWAYS yeah I'm an old guy, but I live in a big house with a bunch of people some of whom are like 22. And we had a large-ish party a little while ago, with people playing old-timey acoustic stuff, and then also DJs playing, you know, DJ sorts of things... but the ONLY THING, all night, that made *everybody* get up and dance and get happy was when someone put Speaking in Tongues on the record player. It's universal I guess! And somehow I've never gotten tired of it, either.

Also, I had no idea at the time, but I think there's a pretty good chance that Bernie Worrell is god, for certain, possibly Egyptian, values of "god".
posted by hap_hazard at 1:08 PM on August 1, 2011


which is still an in-joke between my friend Reid Fleming and myself.

Your friend is the world's toughest milkman?

You know what I liked about the Talking Heads? Rock has always had a strong art school influence, but they were upfront about it. There just doesn't seem to be that much pop music made nowadays that directly references the fine arts. Sure, they'll steal from fine artists outright, but Byrne, in particular, was interested in the ideas behind a lot of his contemporaries in the arts, especially in performance. He wrote The Catherine Wheel for Twyla Tharp, for pete's sakes. Byrne himself is a visual artist .

I'd love to see more of that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:17 PM on August 1, 2011


That pantages (night #1) show was certainly in my personal top 3 favorite live shows of all time.
posted by MikeHoegeman at 1:55 PM on August 1, 2011


> Nah, just get the DVD.

Yeah, but. I have it, it's legit, it's paid for, I have the skilz, don't WANT to buy it again. Fuller pokes out lip stubbornly.
posted by jfuller at 1:58 PM on August 1, 2011


But it will sound way better.
IT is btw a testament to the enduring quality of Stop Making Sense, that the blu-ray is never less than $25 or so, even used.
And the DVD is rarely below $20 despite having been around for 12 years.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:59 PM on August 1, 2011


One caveat about the soundtrack of the movie. I had a VHS recording of SMS and I wanted to play the music in my car so I remember buying the cassette of SMS. But the soundtrack turned out to be a disappointment. Although the songs listed were the same, it wasn't (to my ears) the same performances for many of the tracks. I don't know if the latest CD version has this problem. Anyhow...i ended up taping the soundtrack from the VHS straight onto a blank cassette.

Also good to see SMS (the film) out on DVD. For many years there was no DVD because iirc of disputes within the band(?)
posted by storybored at 2:01 PM on August 1, 2011


I'm going to take advantage of this (yet another) Talking Heads / David Byrne / concert film post to once again out the latest David Byrne concert doumentary, Ride Rise Roar. It was filmed during the tour he did of Byrne / Eno music a couple of years ago, and it was an excellent tour (such joy on stage!), and is a really great documentary about the tour.

It was also a MeFi Project by milquetoast.
posted by hippybear at 4:39 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Youtube also has concert footage from a 1980 Talking Heads concert in Rome. The band there is rawer, more intense and thus more to my own personal liking. An example: Cross-eyed and painless. Other songs from the concert are easy to find from there.
posted by ferdydurke at 5:58 PM on August 1, 2011


this has been one of my favorite records since i was very young... my dad was a fan too.

my students and i covered most of the film in our rock 'n roll class last fall.. here's our version of "Burnin' Down the House":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsgS8djBalQ
posted by teletype1 at 6:13 PM on August 1, 2011


My personal favorite track from the Rome concert on YouTube is Cities. Someone above referenced the titillating effect of Tina Weymouth in a short skirt. I will simply say that seconds 11-18 of the Cities video are another level entirely.
posted by gurple at 10:51 PM on August 1, 2011


Talking Heads killed at the first US Festival, September 1982.

Really excellent post. A great movie - this moment always gives me chills:

time isn't holding us - time isn't after us

posted by and for no one at 11:06 PM on August 1, 2011


damn your eyes, html!
posted by and for no one at 11:09 PM on August 1, 2011


I too saw this tour -- at Forest Hills tennis stadium in Queens, NY -- and was dating a guy from RISD at the time so we were all like, related to the Talking Heads! DB in the big suit was seriously one of the best things I've ever seen on stage, mesmerizing. And the music ... talk about a wall of sound.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:53 AM on August 2, 2011


Kermit the Frog singing Once in a Lifetime

No. I cannot hear the original version without thinking of this. For some reason, the spoken parts make far more sense when narrated by Kermit.... Why is everyone looking at me like that?
posted by schmod at 5:56 AM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Christ, are we having another "best post" contest this month?
posted by Eideteker at 10:51 AM on August 2, 2011


This version of Psycho Killer from The Old Gray Whistle Test has always been a favorite of mine. And folks talking about Tina upthread, whew, she does something for me in this video....
posted by marxchivist at 3:13 PM on August 2, 2011


They were so goddamn good.
posted by marxchivist at 3:14 PM on August 2, 2011


Talking Heads - Wembley, 1982 is a YouTube playlist with some cool live performance (and some unusual stock footage).

I will simply say that seconds 11-18 of the Cities video are another level entirely.

I noticed that when I was looking for the Stop Making Sense version of "Cities."
posted by kirkaracha at 5:08 PM on August 2, 2011


When I heard this for the first time ever last year, it totally weirded me out.

It was as if Aretha Franklin had covered The Clash.
Or Daryl Hall covered XTC.
Or R.E.M. covered Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

It just not a cover I'd ever expected to hear. Still not sure how I feel about it.

And the cheesy 80s production doesn't help.
posted by droplet at 6:55 PM on August 2, 2011


Two years after the Staples Singers covered "Slippery People" Pops Staples acted and sang in David Byrne's film, "True Stories." And anyway, was their doing that cover really any weirder than Talking Heads covering Al Green?
posted by Songdog at 6:54 PM on August 6, 2011


The Staple Singers, sorry.
posted by Songdog at 6:56 PM on August 6, 2011


Damn, I missed this post when it first hit the blue. All I can add is that I saw Talking Heads on this tour in December (give or take a few weeks) of 1983 and it was everything you could have hoped and everything you might have imagined when watching the movie.

Except for the guy who, in Life During Wartime, screaming "YOU GUYS ARE SMOKING! DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE SMOKING!" loud enough to be heard over a decent sized area of the audience. There was this growing sense throughout the show that this was one for the ages, that every second needed to be savoured, that the joy was just going to keep on coming like candies pouring out of a jar. It's still one of the best shows I've ever seen. And Remain in Light is one of the best albums ever.
posted by jokeefe at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2011


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