Talking Heads, Rome 1980
July 21, 2007 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Pretend it's 1980. Let's also imagine that you are in Rome, and for whatever reason you have decided to go see this musical group called The Talking Heads.
At the concert, these are the songs that the band plays: Psycho Killer; Stay Hungry; Cities; I Zimbra; Drugs; Take Me to the River; Crosseyed and Painless; Life During Wartime; Houses in Motion; Born under Punches; and The Great Curve.
posted by Meatbomb (154 comments total) 132 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's fun to pretend sometimes, isn't it?
posted by Meatbomb at 1:16 PM on July 21, 2007


"Life During Wartime" is one of my all-time favorite tunes.

I really like this version, in which David Byrne proceeds to jog around the stage.
posted by Poolio at 1:18 PM on July 21, 2007


is that adrian belew up there with them?
posted by progosk at 1:20 PM on July 21, 2007


1980! That's like 27 years ago. Were there even people around that long ago?
posted by fairmettle at 1:24 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


progosk: Yep. The entire band is introduced at the beginning of (a rather smoking version of) "I Zimbra."
posted by mykescipark at 1:25 PM on July 21, 2007


progosk: yes.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:25 PM on July 21, 2007


I'm waiting for an appropriate thread to post a few lyrics from Life During Wartime.

When my daughter was three, we used to watch Stop Making Sense as if it were an exercise video.
posted by Sailormom at 1:31 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Amazing post. For me, the Talking Heads were always their best when scrappy and lean, cramped on a small stage and rocking out like spazmos.

(Not that I ever got to see them live myself.)

Anyone who digs these videos really need to check out The Name of This Band is Talking Heads.
posted by samh23 at 1:31 PM on July 21, 2007


Great post! And a great concert!
posted by McLir at 1:32 PM on July 21, 2007


Chillingly immobile crowd. Great (super-simple) lighting, shame the camerawork's only so-so. Still, quite unusual fare for RAI...
posted by progosk at 1:33 PM on July 21, 2007


If you're a Talking Heads fan and you don't already own it, pick up The Name of This Band is Talking Heads for the definitive live Heads show on disc. (Yes, I would argue it's even better than Stop Making Sense.)
posted by Rangeboy at 1:34 PM on July 21, 2007


About half of my favorite songs of all time are from the Talking Heads. I loved it that Byrne always kept to his promise never to sing about the usual topics like sex and love. (My favorite "duh" moment from a review proclaimed Little Creatures "an enthusiastic endorsement of sex." If In the sleep of Reason / Little Creatures are Born is an enthusiastic endorsement of sex, I'd hate to see his endorsement of technology.)

Byrne managed to capture and even celebrate the banality of ordinary existence in a way that wasn't a shriek of rage, but an acceptance of the quirky and weird beings that we are. In Life During Wartime the singer is getting shot at but is concerned with scoring some peanut butter. In the one song he ever did IIRC about transcendance, And She Was, the character doesn't know why she has transcended reality or what it means; it just happens. Sometimes we have an awful clarity that Byrne's characters lack for themselves (Mommy Daddy You and I, Cool Water, Nothing but Flowers, Television Man) and sometimes they have an awful clarity that is deeply disturbing to contemplate (Psycho Killer, Life During Wartime, Road to Nowhere)

It was a sad sad day when TH broke up, but I guess you can only maintain a creative streak that good for so long.
posted by localroger at 1:35 PM on July 21, 2007


I got to party with them when they were in DC at the Ontario theater. They signed my copy of OUI magazine that featured them. Tina blushed.
posted by doctorschlock at 1:36 PM on July 21, 2007


The Name of This Band is Not "The Talking Heads"; it is "Talking Heads".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:37 PM on July 21, 2007


Good lord, Tina is smoking hot in that and does anyone know anything more about Adrian Blue(?) on guitar?
posted by mike_bling at 1:38 PM on July 21, 2007


Oh, and: Talking Heads are great fun even when their called The Robocop Kraus.
posted by progosk at 1:39 PM on July 21, 2007


Talking Heads had a great set on SNL in 1979. I hope this Rome concert gets a better audio feed and released on DVD.
posted by geoff. at 1:40 PM on July 21, 2007


This post is a lame piece of shit. From Providence.

Just kidding, meatbomb. Actually, it's pretty good.
posted by psmealey at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This post is a lame piece of shit. From Providence.

Just kidding, meatbomb. Actually, it's pretty good.
posted by psmealey at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


huh. weird
posted by psmealey at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2007


A youtube playlist to the post. WHICH IS AWESOME. Thanks meatbomb.
posted by acro at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2007


I don't know if it comes across in the youtube clips, but the audience is overwhelmingly male to an almost disturbing degree, and the camera tends to spend incredibly long intervals gazing lovingly at the backs of Tina Weymouth's thighs...
posted by anazgnos at 1:54 PM on July 21, 2007


Well, Anazgnos....back in the day..1980..The Talking Heads were consider'd PUNK and a most PUNKS were Male.
posted by doctorschlock at 1:57 PM on July 21, 2007


...but then again in that era of '78 to 80 you were both New Wave and Punk.
posted by doctorschlock at 1:59 PM on July 21, 2007


adrian belew is one of the most innovative guitarists of all time, and a personal fave.

he was 'discovered' by frank zappa while playing in a covers band at a hotel (i believe the holiday inn) where FZ's band was staying. he was then pinched by david bowie while on tour with FZ, during a confrontation between bowie and zappa where the latter kept calling the former 'captain tom.' he also played on lodger. around this time he met brian eno and robert fripp, both involved in the talking heads at the time, he was then recruited to play on remain in light by the heads, and do this 1980 tour. he then became a fixture in the early 80s incarnation of king crimson. he made a few solo albums in the 80s and 90s. he also guests on the downward spiral by nine inch nails.

that rome TH show is amazing, by the way. way better than stop making sense.
posted by tremspeed at 2:00 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I have to pick a nit -- are studio tracks being added in over the concert footage at times? I could swear that during "Psycho Killer" the audience noise fades out in a way that doesn't sound "real." Or else, a) TH were much better live early on than I expected and b) Italian audiences are weird.

As for the other guitarist, Adrian Belew has been around a while as a noted experimental guitarist. His work with TH and David Bowie would be his most "mainstream" stuff, compared to work with prog groups like King Crimson. Then again, he had a quirky hit single back in the 80's with a cute song called "Oh Daddy."
posted by bardic at 2:05 PM on July 21, 2007


damn you tremspeed
posted by bardic at 2:06 PM on July 21, 2007


When I was a little boy, Talking Heads were the first musical group that made me feel like I was big. I wanted to grow up to be David Byrne, mostly because he was even more geekily cool then Elvis Costello when I saw him in the video for Once in a Lifetime.

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself "Well...How did I get here?"


I guess those lyrics really registered for me. Thank you David for giving me my mission statement - I have found myself in another part of the world, and I keep asking myself "How do I work this?" and I keep telling myself "This is not my beautiful wife." If you are reading this, David, I would very much like to buy you a beer and thank you for the excellent suggestions for how I might spend my time on the planet.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:09 PM on July 21, 2007 [9 favorites]


(Or it's a board mix maybe? I dunno. Great visual footage, but it would be nice to hear what they really sounded like live in 1980.)
posted by bardic at 2:14 PM on July 21, 2007


[this is insanely, stupendously good.]
posted by kaseijin at 2:16 PM on July 21, 2007


Where were you in 1980? I was twelve years old and running around Six Flags Over Texas like David Byrne with his head cut off. I don't even think I believed Rome Italy existed at the time. Just one of those faraway places that teachers occasionally mentioned to make tests more difficult.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:17 PM on July 21, 2007


A very early, very interesting Psycho Killer from CBGBs.

(Thank you.)
posted by william_boot at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2007


That version of "Drugs" is really good.
posted by Tuwa at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2007


...but then again in that era of '78 to 80 you were both New Wave and Punk.

Very true. Oddly, the Police were considered both, but they were actually neither.

I always kind of considered the Talking Heads kind of offshoot progeny of Television, Richard Hell and to a lesser degree Captain Beefheart and (early) Roxy Music. I was never aware of the Adrian Belew/Zappa connection. Fascinating stuff.
posted by psmealey at 2:26 PM on July 21, 2007


I saw Talking Heads on the Stop Making Sense Tour. Still one of the best shows I've ever been to.

Sigh. I was even in Europe in 1980.
posted by jokeefe at 2:29 PM on July 21, 2007


1980! That's like 27 years ago. Were there even people around that long ago?

fairmettle -- Yes there were. And everyone had to walk 5 miles IN THE SNOW to get to school. A Snickers® candy bar cost a 25¢ and Michael Jackson hit the Top 10 with the single "Rock With You." Oh, and his complexion was way darker than it is today.

Now -- GET OFF MY FUCKING LAWN!!!
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on July 21, 2007


*cost 25¢*

...and Michael had a real nose back then and not a prosthetic (replacement) one.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on July 21, 2007


I saw Talking Heads on the Stop Making Sense Tour. Still one of the best shows I've ever been to.

My first experience with them was in 1985, when as a college freshman, I went up to the Fine Arts Theater in Chicago, to see Stop Making Sense. It blew me away.

Kind of made me wonder at the time why more bands didn't try to do the same kind of thing. And then I realized that few of them actually could pull something like that off.
posted by psmealey at 2:33 PM on July 21, 2007


Awesome stuff, Meatbomb. This is some of my favorite music ever, even though I was but a lad in those days.

Now, I'm going to have to listen to Disc 2 of The Name Of This Band... for inspiration on the way to my gig tonight. Really, really loudly.
posted by gazole at 2:34 PM on July 21, 2007


I saw David Byrne live recently in Boulder at the Chautauqua theater. He was quite awesome in that small venue, and rocked the place down. He's so low key that he introduced the opening act, whose name escapes me right now. He was obviously having fun, and it's rare that I've seen an audience so into the music. He surprised us all at the end by singing opera. He doesn't have the most powerful voice, but he did a great job.

I don't really care much for star nonsense, but David Byrne is about the only one that I've ever really wanted to be. He just seems to have fun with life doing his art, playing music, and meeting and working with interesting people.
posted by Eekacat at 2:35 PM on July 21, 2007


my parents (my mom several mos pregnant with yours truly) saw this tour's ny show. they were so much cooler than i.
posted by tremspeed at 2:40 PM on July 21, 2007


Fantastic. Makes me feel old, but...fantastic!
posted by rtha at 2:40 PM on July 21, 2007


I don't know if it comes across in the youtube clips, but the audience is overwhelmingly male to an almost disturbing degree

I'm sure there were women there, but staying safely out of the crowd. I did spend a week in Rome in the spring of 1980, and it was barely safe to venture out in the streets alone, especially after dark, because women alone (or even in groups) were unmercifully harrassed. Buying a slice of pizza from a sidewalk stand became an exercise in keeping hands off my body... you try counting out your change while a stranger's fingers are tugging on your hair and you're simultaneously trying to dodge another leering man who is talking directly into your ear about how you should go with him for a drink. So I would say that given the culture of the time, most of the Italian girls are staying in a more or less safe space, which would involve being on the edges of the audience.

Oh yeah: And this point kicks all sorts of ass. I loved Talking Heads with a passion, and Remain in Light is still one of my favourite albums, evah.
posted by jokeefe at 2:44 PM on July 21, 2007


DAMN! I meant "post", not "point."
posted by jokeefe at 2:45 PM on July 21, 2007


Sweet post.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:47 PM on July 21, 2007


I saw Talking Heads on the Stop Making Sense Tour. Still one of the best shows I've ever been to.

Saw 'em at Saratoga Springs in '83. Ditto.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:52 PM on July 21, 2007


Stop Making Sense
posted by geoff. at 3:01 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This Rome show was from December 1980, but they unveiled the new songs, sound and line-up in August 1980, at the Heatwave festival just north of Toronto. I was front and center for their entire set. Unbelievable -- Heads, Costello, B-52s, The Pretenders, and more all for $10 and a heightened risk of sunstroke. (You can get a decent set of Talking Heads Heatwave mp3s here.)
posted by maudlin at 3:08 PM on July 21, 2007


Absolutely the best evar..... was it really so fucking long ago?
posted by Joeforking at 3:09 PM on July 21, 2007


Man, I was nothing but a toddler in 1980. I missed out.

(Remain in Light is also my favorite album of theirs.)
posted by Neilopolis at 3:12 PM on July 21, 2007


I was actually there, but my folks wouldn't let me go. I was only 11. Other great missed shows include the Stones, Frank Zappa, America etc. What a bummer.


But thanks Meatbomb, I finally get to see this!!! wooooo hoooo!
posted by snsranch at 3:18 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's hoping someone will DVD-ize this and put it on Dimeadozen, et al...
posted by sparkletone at 3:25 PM on July 21, 2007


Great stuff, thank you. The closest I've come to a Talking Heads concert was the Phish Halloween show in 1996, where they covered all of Remain in Light as their musical costume. (They had a horn section, but no Big Suit.) Here's what Kurt Loder had to say, and a clip from The Overload. Phish also liked to cover Cities and Psycho Killer.
posted by muckster at 3:33 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Saw 'em at the Hammersith Apollo on that tour. December 1st 1980. U2 were the support.
posted by punilux at 3:41 PM on July 21, 2007


This is great. It forces us to appreciate just how integral Adrian Belew was to the Talking Head's sound during the uber-creative Remain-in-Light era. I saw them in Eugene at least twice but not with this lineup.
posted by Dougoh at 4:02 PM on July 21, 2007


I get a lot out of David Byrne's journal (XML). It's the only celebrity blog I've ever found that held my interest.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:16 PM on July 21, 2007


I'm old enough to have seen TH several times in their prime.

This concert is great. Same as it ever was.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:22 PM on July 21, 2007


Remain In Light was really a watershed album. I don't know whether Byrne consciously set out to record an entire album of songs without chord changes, but he succeeded magnificently. The first Belew I ever heard was his obnoxiously fantastic solo in The Great Curve, and it was absolutely a "Hey Coolaide!!" moment for me. Walls came down. Saw' em in Austin, outdoors on a splendid afternoon in '83, and it was one of the single greatest days in my life. I think the only concert I could say was really better was Peter Gabriel that same year, on the Security Tour.

Damn, those were heady days.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:22 PM on July 21, 2007


When my daughter was three, we used to watch Stop Making Sense as if it were an exercise video.
posted by Sailormom


Ha! I would put the video or CD in and dance my daughter around the living room. She was about 2 or 3. After each song, as I caught my breath, she would yell "AGAIN!!!!!!"

Last summer I used the video as an aerobic workout with a friend, just trying to keep up with David Byrne's actions.

David Byrne's Live at Union Chapel is awesome as well, in a different way. From that DVD, here he sings I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which made me actually like that song!

Awesome links, Meatbomb! Thanks!
posted by The Deej at 4:22 PM on July 21, 2007


Wow, I got so worked up there I misplaced an apostrophe.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:24 PM on July 21, 2007


I was helping my dad push forth the Reagan Revolution one sign at a time in 1980. Punk, new wave, all that had barely impacted Oklahoma, save the Sex Pistols only US tour making a stop in Tulsa.

Nine years later, I got my first CD player and $100 for Christmas. I bought six CDs. One of them was Stop Making Sense.

I'm not a cool kid. But I try.
posted by dw at 4:25 PM on July 21, 2007


Oh, and [this is good]
posted by dw at 4:26 PM on July 21, 2007


This is great; thanks.

To derail a bit on the terms punk & new wave: Now it seems people consider "punk" the more raw, late-'70s, mohawks-and-nosechains music & fashion style, and "new wave" the more colorful, early-'80s, synthy pop style -- though of course many underground bands didn't completely fit either stereotype, and the terms were much more fluid. (Was the term "postpunk" around by the late '70s for bands like Wire, the Fall, etc.? Not to mention Talking Heads...)

A fascinating thing I came across recently was from the DVD reissue of the late-night show "Tomorrow with Tom Snyder." There's an episode from 1978 featuring Joan Jett and the Jam's Paul Weller; they're both about 19. They're from different scenes and different countries, but they agree that "new wave" is the authentic term for the new style of youth-driven music, and that "punk" is a lame term made up by record-company marketing people. Funny how just a few years later, everyone would have a very different view of those words.
posted by lisa g at 4:36 PM on July 21, 2007


David Byrne's a SubGenius too. Or at the very least a SubGenius Sympathizer. Legend has it the church scene in his movie True Stories was supposed to be based on a SubGenuis Devival. However, the monies behind his project kinda nixed that idea, as it wasn't 'mainstream' enough.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:39 PM on July 21, 2007


Good work, Meat.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 4:40 PM on July 21, 2007


...but then again in that era of '78 to 80 you were both New Wave and Punk.

Very true. Oddly, the Police were considered both, but they were actually neither.


What? They were practically the definition of New Wave. Pop/Reggae fusion.
posted by Bonzai at 4:43 PM on July 21, 2007


What is "I Zimbra" all about? Can anyone explain the lyrics? What language is that?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 4:46 PM on July 21, 2007


They were practically the definition of New Wave. Pop/Reggae fusion.

I never saw the Police that way. I saw them as a jazz influenced progressive rock band that had a singer whose stylings sometimes shaded into dancehall/reggae.
posted by psmealey at 4:48 PM on July 21, 2007


It's not a language. It's nonsense words.
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:54 PM on July 21, 2007


It's not a language. It's nonsense words.
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:54 PM on July 21, 2007


lisa g writes They're from different scenes and different countries, but they agree that "new wave" is the authentic term for the new style of youth-driven music, and that "punk" is a lame term made up by record-company marketing people.

I can't find the exact quotation on the intarwebs, but Elvis Costello has pretty much said the same thing. From the British perspective of 78-79, punk had already pretty much become a marketing ploy. Things get confusing though, since American punk was breaking in fresh ways then in New York and LA.
posted by bardic at 4:54 PM on July 21, 2007


Many of which are repeated.

(sorry)
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:55 PM on July 21, 2007


I should say, I never bought the whole critics' Police = reggae trip. That comparison always seemed off to me, by a fair margin. Between the Specials, the Beat, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff, there was some incredible reggae and ska going on at the time, and the Police were definitely not that.
posted by psmealey at 4:55 PM on July 21, 2007


I lurve lurve lurve me some Talking Heads. So I'm gonna love watching this later when I have time! Thanks. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 4:58 PM on July 21, 2007


It's not a language. It's nonsense words.

Ah, thanks. I thought it may have been a Nigerian language, in a nod to Fela to thank him for all the ideas they borrowed.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 4:59 PM on July 21, 2007


I turned 7 in 1980. I was probably not aware of the Talking Heads at that time - I think I first heard of them when I saw "Once In A Lifetime" on MTV. That said, I love this post!
posted by SisterHavana at 5:02 PM on July 21, 2007


It's not a language. It's nonsense words.

Not just nonsense words, but a straight lift from Gadji Beri Bimba, first performed by Hugo Ball (wiki) in the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich around 1916.

Bless the Talking Heads' art-school hearts.
posted by jokeefe at 5:08 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I was little my dad played Talking Heads for me and I loved it. Talking Heads was sort of where my father stopped listening to new music (with minor exceptions here and there) and Talking Heads was where I started listening to music (because of my dad and long car rides to grandma). 20 years later, it is still a strong point of connection between my dad and I (although as I grew older, I started liking a lot of the bands he was into like Zappa, Beefheart, VU, etc.).
posted by Falconetti at 5:11 PM on July 21, 2007


I can't find the exact quotation on the intarwebs, but Elvis Costello has pretty much said the same thing. From the British perspective of 78-79, punk had already pretty much become a marketing ploy. Things get confusing though, since American punk was breaking in fresh ways then in New York and LA.

Yeah. On the West Coast, punk was a politicized form, as well. I'm getting all nostalgic for my Dead Kennedys albums.
posted by jokeefe at 5:12 PM on July 21, 2007


I saw David Byrne at Jones Beach on the Rei Momo tour, free. I was friends with one of the staff, and they had sold so few tickets that they were told to call everyone they knew, whoever came could get in without charge....they wanted to fill as many seats as they could so as not to embarrass the talent.

I can honestly say that it's still one of the best damned shows I've seen. And I've worked in concert halls for years, and still usually see several acts a week. I remember looking around at all the empty seats while he was playing "Burning Down the House" as an encore and thinking "What the hell is going on???"

Stupid Long Island.
posted by nevercalm at 5:16 PM on July 21, 2007


Does anyone know anything about the rumor that Mr. Byrne enjoys or at least has enjoyed being pooped on in the face? Just wonderin'. More interesting the Paris Hilton's antics, at least.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:27 PM on July 21, 2007


i saw talking heads in boston in 1980. great memories, great music.
posted by brandz at 5:32 PM on July 21, 2007


Thanks a tonne. I opened for Adrian Belew in 1990... he was a great guy and The Bears were amazing.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:33 PM on July 21, 2007


Seems as good a time as any for a link to David Byrne's blog and radio station.
posted by muckster at 5:36 PM on July 21, 2007


I maintain that one of the most difficult things to describe in writing (at least in English) is the quality of someone's voice--other than the basic deep, high, tenor, bass, etc. David Byrne is one of the best examples--how to describe the spooky weird quality of his voice? The singer for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sort of sounds like that too, but all you can say is "he sorta sounds like David Byrne."
posted by Mid at 5:43 PM on July 21, 2007


HELL YEAH. Meatbomb, you've made my week.

I saw David Byrne play Montreal maybe three or four days after September 11. He said something like, "This next song is either very inappropriate or very appropriate. I'm not sure which, so I'll just play it," and launched into an incredibly energetic and cathartic and confusing version of Life During Wartime. That was the most memorable song performance I've seen.
posted by painquale at 6:04 PM on July 21, 2007


Stellar. Thanks. Born Under Punches. Wow.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:21 PM on July 21, 2007


I'd say Win Butler on Funeral had more of a David Byrne thing going than Alec Ounsworth. But I haven't heard Some Loud Thunder.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:23 PM on July 21, 2007


Oops, ikkyu2 already linked Byrne's blog. As penance for the redundancy, I offer another Phish cover: Crosseyed & Painless, 11/2/96 [23 mins, 30MB mp3]
posted by muckster at 6:30 PM on July 21, 2007


I'm only 23, but I'd rather listen to this sort of music than a lot of what's being played by mainstream, and even most indie, artists today. Where the hell is my generation's Talking Heads? Don't say The Arcade Fire... they're interesting, but not nearly as unique as Talking Heads.

Where's my generation's The Who? Where's my generation's Devo? (Answer to that one: POLYSICS, but the language barrier's a problem.) Where's my generation's Beatles?

Okay, enough griping. I mean, come on. That is one insane performance of "The Great Curve".
posted by SansPoint at 6:35 PM on July 21, 2007


Judging by the lyrics of Polysic's English language songs, I don't think we're missing too much. Also, I was listening to Jens Lekman recently and some of the songs seemed like lost Talking Heads recordings (but not as good).
posted by Falconetti at 6:43 PM on July 21, 2007


Nice post. They were once my favorite band. This performance was smoking. Thanks.

I saw David about a year or so ago and he still has it, all that energy, creativity, and enough cool and quirkiness to make it interesting. It's fun and heady music, with great rhythms.
posted by caddis at 6:51 PM on July 21, 2007


Where's my generation's The Who? Where's my generation's Devo? (Answer to that one: POLYSICS, but the language barrier's a problem.) Where's my generation's Beatles?

Speaking as someone whose generation(s) had the benefit of claiming all those icons (as well as the Pistols, the 'Mats and, shit, don't-get-me-started), I can console you by mentioning that at least you have The National, a great, great, great band.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:26 PM on July 21, 2007


Who the fuck are Talking Heads?
posted by StopMakingSense at 7:29 PM on July 21, 2007


Eponysterical!
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:31 PM on July 21, 2007


Was the period from 1977 to about 1982 a pretty major fucking high-point for popular music? Or was it just the time when I was 13 - 18 and everyone thinks the same thing about the years when they were teenagers?
posted by octothorpe at 7:32 PM on July 21, 2007


Any time anyone wants to pretend we're in Rome is okay by me. :) Viva bella Roma!

My fave Talking Heads tune came later, 1987, first heard it in Wall Street, Naive Melody. Made the movie for me, the soundtrack to yuppie intoxication with nicely designed gizmos, like the hand held mixer, the home cappuccino maker, sushi roller and upscale apartment renovating. Stuff that is totally mainstream now but was the epitome of capitalist luxury in the tail end of hedonistic Reaganomics. Those halcyon days of yuppie gadget highs. ooohh those "greed is good" days of the mid to late 80's.
posted by nickyskye at 7:36 PM on July 21, 2007


octothorpe, I wonder that too, but I've always assumed that it was just typical nostalgia for my late teens/early twenties. (But maybe not? Hard to tell.) I do know that there are many fine bands playing today, as well, and god knows there was a lot of crap on the radio back then as well. Time does a good job of sifting the good from the bad. Check in in thirty years and see if people are raving about Broken Social Scene, I suppose.
posted by jokeefe at 7:41 PM on July 21, 2007


Was the period from 1977 to about 1982 a pretty major fucking high-point for popular music? Or was it just the time when I was 13 - 18 and everyone thinks the same thing about the years when they were teenagers?

Um, yes. Oh, I'm sorry. Were those rhetorical questions?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:44 PM on July 21, 2007


Every time I move, the first thing I set up is my stereo, and the first song I play is Naive Melody (This Must Be the Place).
posted by sourwookie at 8:28 PM on July 21, 2007


It was a great time but doesn't get a lot of radio airplay. You very rarely hear Gang of Four, Joy Division, New Order, etc.
posted by geoff. at 8:29 PM on July 21, 2007


Wonderful post, thanks Meatbomb!
posted by wfrgms at 8:32 PM on July 21, 2007


Funny - I've been playing Talking Heads to my three-year old, and by coincidence we were watching this show's version "Take Me to the River" this very evening.

I was first introduced to the band when a friend dragged me to see a double feature of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense". To this day I have little use for the former (though I like some Floyd) but I absolutely love the latter. I'm very, very glad we stayed for the second film! Now I have to watch the rest of the Rome show, which I thank Meatbomb and the rest of you for encouraging me to do.

By the way, as several above have mentioned, "The Name of This Band is Talking Heads" is a fantastic live album, but it bears clarifying that it's not from a single show (nor is "Stop Making Sense") but rather a collection of live tracks from multiple shows (at least four on the original LPs, at least nine on the CD re-issue) over a four and a half year period. The band's sound changes quite a bit over the course of these years and recordings, and it's a great collection.
posted by Songdog at 8:36 PM on July 21, 2007


I saw David Byrne at Jones Beach on the Rei Momo tour, free.

The only time I ever saw Byrne or (almost) Talking Heads live was the summer of that year and that tour. Interestingly and memorably, I saw both of them one week apart at the same venue. First I saw Tom Tom Club and Jerry Harrison as part of the Escape from New York tour along with Debbie Harry and The Ramones at the small Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe. Then, exactly a week later, Byrne played the same venue on his Rei Momo tour. I also saw Laurie Anderson the first time that year in Vancouver.

Where the hell is my generation's Talking Heads?

I've written about this before, but I think there's something really odd, and possibly portentous, going on in pop music. Or, rather, not going on.

I was in high school in 78-82. In that time, other than a few freaky people, no one my age would be caught dead listening to music more than ten years old, at most. Except for a few very important influences, of course. And, really, from 1950 to 1990 you had major new pop music movements every seven years or so that really and truly sounded different from what had come before. But it seems to me that his pretty much has stopped by the early 90s. Hip-Hop and then Grunge are the last two movements. The former is hugely important, of course.

And so you see these days something I find very strange, and that's young people listening to music their parents listened to. Frankly, I find that unnatural and offputting. :)

Or was it just the time when I was 13 - 18 and everyone thinks the same thing about the years when they were teenagers?

I think typically everyone thinks that about the years they were teenagers, but that people with better taste are familiar with the last fifty years and able to make strong critical judgment about all of it. I, personally, have very little affinity to the music I was listening to in high school and wish I had had better taste then. However, my closest friends from that time still prefer that music.

In my case, since the music I listened to then wasn't that great to begin with, and then those favorite bands of mine got worse—and I found the pop of the 80s not to my liking (and it still isn't...the bands I like now and think highly of from that era all began in the 70s), I sort of wandered away from pop, and began listening to jazz. When, in 1989, I met the super-hip Toronto 19 year-old woman that I'd shortly marry, she exposed me to this universe of alternative music that I'd mostly never, ever heard of. A lot of stuff well known to all of us now, others still pretty obscure. But it was a revelation to me and, at 25 I fell in love with pop music all over again.

I eventually formed tastes independent of Shelley, moving to a bunch of industrial stuff she never liked (she was much more a folky). But, anyway, nowadays I think of that era of music as my version of clinging-to-teenage years music. I have continued to listen to new stuff, but I find that just a few additional years seem to pass by between every new time I find an artist/band that I just go completely gaga over.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:39 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is the worst middle-aged daisy chain I've ever seen in my life.
posted by sleepy pete at 8:42 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Was the period from 1977 to about 1982 a pretty major fucking high-point for popular music?

it was fair ... the best two years were 1967 and 1991
posted by pyramid termite at 8:47 PM on July 21, 2007


Thank you my dear Meatbomb, Talking Heads are some of my favorites. I love Stop Making Sense and True Stories to death. I have made True Stories grow on people who hated it the first time around.
posted by piratebowling at 9:19 PM on July 21, 2007


Saw TH twice in Nashville. Just dug up both ticket stubs. One was Sept. 16, 1982. The other was earlier (maybe 80) but they ripped the date off the ticket. Price = $9.50 advance.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:03 PM on July 21, 2007


... aaand Meatbomb gets BoingBoinged.
posted by hangashore at 10:04 PM on July 21, 2007


This post once again proves that my soul was instead quickened into a monkey somewhere. I watched a couple of the linked performances, thought to myself "yeah that's okay", and went back to what I was doing.

I suck. I'm not being sarcastic.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 AM on July 22, 2007


Flagged as Awesome.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:31 AM on July 22, 2007


This is the worst middle-aged daisy chain I've ever seen in my life.

You mean circle jerk. Daisy chain was the generation before.
posted by psmealey at 5:57 AM on July 22, 2007


Don't let's forget the influence Bernie Worrell and cohorts had on the Talking Heads sound. By his estimation they taught them how to funk.

'After departing Parliament/Funkadelic, Worrell resurfaced with the revamped Talking Heads lineup for several albums, including The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads, Speaking In Tongues and Jonathan Demme's dazzling concert film, Stop Making Sense.'
posted by asok at 7:17 AM on July 22, 2007


These videos are great; they remind me a lot of the renditions on The Name of this Band is Talking Heads.

I have been a Talking Heads fan for most of my life. I remember the first Talking Heads album I bought was Speaking in Tongues; I still remember the day I bought it in a record store across the street from my middle school.

What fascinated me about the Talking Heads* was that they were the first rock group I was interested in who did not seem to be fueled by a lot of machismo and testosterone. I was a kind of mild-mannered, wimpy kid who read a lot, and it blew my mind to think that there was a rock band comprised of people that I might actually get along with. Plus, their music was incredible.

I listened ardently to the Talking Heads and David Byrne right up through Rei Momo and Uh-Oh (which, I thought, were every bit as good as classic Talking Heads). Then I sort of lost track with what Byrne was doing (like I've lost track of what Elvis Costello is doing these days).

* I have always called them "the Talking Heads," despite someone's admonition that that's not actually their name.
posted by jayder at 8:51 AM on July 22, 2007


Price = $9.50 advance.

Incredible. Won't even buy you two beers at a concert venue these days.
posted by ericb at 9:11 AM on July 22, 2007


And, really, from 1950 to 1990 you had major new pop music movements every seven years or so that really and truly sounded different from what had come before. But it seems to me that his pretty much has stopped by the early 90s.

Post Rock. Rave, Jungle. Alt folk. Glitch... etc, etc, etc...
posted by Drexen at 10:18 AM on July 22, 2007


As far as the Talking Heads per se starting off in Providence, they actually called themselves The Artistics during their time at RISD, the name change happened when they moved to New York.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:41 AM on July 22, 2007


Post Rock. Rave, Jungle. Alt folk. Glitch... etc, etc, etc...

That's a joke, right? Those are microgenres. Not the same thing at all.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2007


Awesome.
posted by sveskemus at 11:01 AM on July 22, 2007


“Post Rock. Rave, Jungle. Alt folk. Glitch... etc, etc, etc...”

That's a joke, right? Those are microgenres. Not the same thing at all.


It is the same thing. Saying that there were new genres every seven years between 1950 and 1990 that "truly sounded different from what came before" is extremely hyperbolic or lacking in perspective.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:58 AM on July 22, 2007


Saying that there were new genres every seven years between 1950 and 1990 that "truly sounded different from what came before" is extremely hyperbolic or lacking in perspective.

EB's right, you're wrong. Between Fats Domino/Ike Turner/Bill Haley and Elvis/Jerry Lee/Buddy Holly and Beatles/Stones/Dylan and the bifurcated hard-rock/singer-songwriter early '70s and the bifurcated disco/punk late '70s and the rap that overwhelmed just about everything starting in the '80s there are chasms; a devotee of the music in one period tended to be repelled by the next wave ("you call that rock 'n' roll?"). Now I guess it all sounds like one mush of "oldies," but if you lived through the changes, they weren't minor at all.

Also: "glitch"? You made that up, right?
posted by languagehat at 12:33 PM on July 22, 2007


Everybody's talkin bout the new sound, honey, but it's still rock and roll to me.

Languagefatlol and EB are both old and wrong. Just because people who are waist-deep in one sound are repulsed by the next genre doesn't mean that the new one sounded "truly different from what came before." That's what I'm saying about lacking perspective. It's exceedingly rare for any new genre to truly break with the past.

If there's any truth to his comment, it's in the well-established fact that today's music market is far more fragmented than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Practically everything is in a niche these days, thanks to many factors, not the least of which is the internet.

Besides, don't try to pretend like you're hip to the current music trends. Also, glitch.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2007


Glitch
posted by deern the headlice at 1:00 PM on July 22, 2007


Jinx.
posted by deern the headlice at 1:00 PM on July 22, 2007


To clarify a littlem more: if all you listen to is classical music, you might think on first listening that rock and roll is a totally different beast. The 1950s parents who thought as much have become a cliche ("You kids and your rock music!" etc). But they were wrong - when you take a step back, it's still the same scales, harmonies, resolutions, etc. There's a much bigger gap between western classical music and Javanese gamelan than western classical music and rock and roll.

Acting like there's some huge chasm between early rock and roll and 70s hard rock or punk or whatever is just as fallacious.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:02 PM on July 22, 2007


And finally, "if you lived through the changes, they weren't minor at all" is exactly my point - the reason they seemed like they weren't minor is because you lived through them.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:04 PM on July 22, 2007


It is the same thing. Saying that there were new genres every seven years between 1950 and 1990 that "truly sounded different from what came before" is extremely hyperbolic or lacking in perspective.

i haven't heard anything that one couldn't find a close predecessor for in the music of the 70s, on back, with the possible exception of drums and bass ... which uses drum breaks from the 60s and 70s ... and glitch ... which isn't exactly everyone's cup of tea ... (and thomas dolby's "s-s-s-science!" is pretty close to that)

also music did sound different from the 50s to the 60s to the 70s and to the 80s ... what people forget is that you couldn't possibly record one decade's music on the previous decade's equipment

really loud rock music wasn't possible in the 50s because the amps hadn't been invented yet

8 and 16 track recording studios didn't become common until the early 70s ... digital until the 80s ... it wasn't until the mid 90s that recording and music technology started leveling off into a refinement stage ... and the innovation of using computers for all that hasn't changed the sound that much, just how the sound has been managed

and that's why music hasn't changed that much in 20 years ... because the innovations in technology that had driven the previous changes aren't happening
posted by pyramid termite at 1:33 PM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


i haven't heard anything that one couldn't find a close predecessor for in the music of the 70s, on back

I wasn't arguing that new music has no antecedents - I'm saying that it does, the same way that older music did.

really loud rock music wasn't possible in the 50s because the amps hadn't been invented yet

So you think playing music with louder amps makes it "truly different than what came before?" Again I think this shows a lack of perspective.

and that's why music hasn't changed that much in 20 years ... because the innovations in technology that had driven the previous changes aren't happening

Music has changed in the last 20 years, and it's not nearly so pat as that. Technology is just one of many factors that leads to musical innovation.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2007


Besides, don't try to pretend like you're hip to the current music trends.

Dude, if I wanted to pretend to be "hip to the current music trends" I wouldn't have admitted I had no idea what glitch was, or stopped at rap music, would I? But if you think classical and rock is all the same, there's really nothing for us to argue about.
posted by languagehat at 2:26 PM on July 22, 2007


So you think playing music with louder amps makes it "truly different than what came before?" Again I think this shows a lack of perspective.

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss that element of it, even though the point was pretty crudely made.

For example, with more powerful amplification came innovations like distortion and feedback, so yes, that "technological" advance was instrumental in terms of how pop music and blues evolved into new forms like pyschedelia and heavy metal in the late 60s.
posted by psmealey at 2:27 PM on July 22, 2007


But if you think classical and rock is all the same, there's really nothing for us to argue about.

Yes, you've summed up my points very accurately there, I'm glad we had this discussion. And if you weren't pretending to be hip to the current music trends, you wouldn't have told me I was wrong about them.

For example, with more powerful amplification came innovations like distortion and feedback, so yes, that "technological" advance was instrumental in terms of how pop music and blues evolved into new forms like pyschedelia and heavy metal in the late 60s.

Distortion started being built into amps and pedals after guitarists began creating it on their own without such devices, but sure, technology certainly plays a part. Evolved is the key word there. Musical style, for the most part, evolves incrementally.

Another analogous point I neglected to mention is that the advances in recording technology in the past 20 years are what make today's records so incredibly loud. It wasn't possible to make albums as loud as today's modern rock records with the technology of 20 years ago. Not that that's a good thing, or that it represents anything truly new and different.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:42 PM on July 22, 2007


Here's a great example of glitch.
posted by nevercalm at 2:45 PM on July 22, 2007


And if you weren't pretending to be hip to the current music trends, you wouldn't have told me I was wrong about them.

What the fucking fuck are you talking about? Point to me where I have said word one about "current music trends." I told you you were wrong about music between 1950 and 1990. After that, I neither know nor pretend to know anything. And since you haven't disavowed your ridiculous point about classical and rock, there's really nothing for us to argue about. Have a nice day.
posted by languagehat at 2:51 PM on July 22, 2007


Let me spell it out for you. Ethereal Bligh said that between 1960 and 1990, there were genres every few years that were truly new and different, whereas since then there have not been. I said he was wrong, you said he was right. Since you didn't specify that you only agreed with half of his position, I assumed you were also saying that there used to be new genres but that there aren't anymore, which is a statement both about old music and current music.

Anyway, you're way out of your element and obviously aren't interested in actually discussing this, so I hope you're finished now.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:55 PM on July 22, 2007



Here's hoping someone will DVD-ize this and put it on Dimeadozen, et al...

hope this is kosher; it's here on The Trader's Den...that DVD is presumably the source for the youtube clips...

Where's my generation's The Who? Where's my generation's Devo? Where's my generation's Beatles?

A tangent to the thread subject, but, it must be said: the answer to all three.

Here's a very entertaining bit on Adrian Belew's blog about his (not) joining the Talking Heads, a must-read:

"...minutes before we were set to play I opened the door to our backstage trailer to discover most of the band snorting lines of coke from the backs of guitars. they quickly shooed me away, knowing I didn't partake..."

And finally, my personal favorite Belew-related video that I've seen, his performance of "Station to Station" from the 1978 tour (sorry if someone already posted this)
posted by anazgnos at 2:58 PM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anyway, you're way out of your element and obviously aren't interested in actually discussing this, so I hope you're finished now.

As opposed to you just being full of shit. I'm almost as "hip to current music trends" as I ever was, which is to say that glitch wouldn't have been on my radar 20 years ago, either. There's always been microgenres, some of those can deviate quite a bit from pop. But pop is, by definition, popular. And popular music is not changing as much in the last fifteen years as it did the thirty years before that.

Don't throw your music theory at me. I may not have a degree in music like you presumably do, but I've got about 20 credit hours of college music education as well as being a lifelong musician. Your argument amounts to widening the perspective such that the distinctions I'm arguing for don't exist. Well, d'uh. That's what happens when you widen the context. But within the context of the NA/Europe pop music we call "rock", there were sweeping changes in the music on a periodic basis and languagehat lists most of them fairly well. There have been no similar changes since the mid-90s and my radio dial proves this.

If it's not on the air in a market with dozens of radio stations, then it doesn't belong in this particular argument. That's what popular is.

You're being condescending (without having earned it) and combative (without being provoked). Had you wanted to argue your point in a friendly fashion, perhaps some of us might have learned some things from you. As it is, you're vastly overstating your case to the point that you're simply wrong and any subtler point that you might have made has been lost. It's going to stay lost because I'm not going to pay any more attention to you until you change your attitude.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:41 PM on July 22, 2007


My musical cock is the biggest of them all.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:42 PM on July 22, 2007


And it sings and dances, too!
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:55 PM on July 22, 2007


There have been no similar changes since the mid-90s and my radio dial proves this.

If it's not on the air in a market with dozens of radio stations, then it doesn't belong in this particular argument. That's what popular is.


Like I said, you're right in as much as the market has changed. The roles of radio and the musical mainstream are very different from what they used to be. That doesn't prove, however, some kind of stagnation or change in the way musical genres develop and progress.

I didn't throw music theory at anybody (although I don't see why that would be so wrong, considering that's the topic of discussion). There's no need to make this into an educational dick comparing contest. I just don't see the vast majority of the changes that have taken place in rock music over the past 50 years as being "really and truly ... different from what had come before." That's the language that you used, and I disagree with it.

I don't think people in 100 years will look at the genres cited as being so new and different, and I don't think they'll view the current musical trends as very different from the older ones, with the exception of the aforementioned point about changes in the business and the role of music in culture. As I said, I think it's been largely an incremental process of evolution, as it continues to be.

I think the argument you're making is both quite common and inaccurate - people in every era think that the creativity is stagnating and things aren't as good as they used to be - and so perhaps I'm reacting to that perception by overstating the opposing case. But I think my point was pretty clear - I didn't say that classical music = rock music, I said that by virtue of our having being brought up as western consumers of culture it's much easier for us to focus on the differences rather than the similarities. I'm simply taking issue with the definition of "new and different" by pointing out that what we're often tempted to label as very different is in many ways not very different at all. Of course if you put it under a microscope you can talk about all of the signifiers that make something belong to one genre or the other, but I think those tend to be superficial more often than not, and that on a more fundamental level things don't often change very quickly or drastically.

I'm sorry you find my attitude so objectionable; I think languagehat was the one who caused this thread to take a turn towards the obnoxious.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:02 PM on July 22, 2007


My musical cock goes to 11.
posted by dirigibleman at 4:14 PM on July 22, 2007


So you think playing music with louder amps makes it "truly different than what came before?" Again I think this shows a lack of perspective.

you try getting jimi hendrix's sound out of 50's era amps and equipment, then

Another analogous point I neglected to mention is that the advances in recording technology in the past 20 years are what make today's records so incredibly loud.

no, it's the awful habit of compressing and limiting the hell out of them to the point of distortion

and for all the advances in recording technology, i've YET to hear a cd with the presence of some old mono 45s

as far as the major point goes, not only will i say that music hasn't changed as much this decade as it did in the 60s, but i'll also say that it isn't that important, either

My musical cock goes to 11.

i bought my musical cock from jimmy page
posted by pyramid termite at 4:33 PM on July 22, 2007


I think the argument you're making is both quite common and inaccurate - people in every era think that the creativity is stagnating and things aren't as good as they used to be - and so perhaps I'm reacting to that perception by overstating the opposing case.

I only want to say that I'm the last person who will make such arguments. I'm not making such an argument about creativity or that "things aren't as good as they used to be". You're reading a lot into what I wrote and reacting to that. I do think that it's simply an observable fact that the type of popular music itself that arose in the 50s is but one of a successive (and parallel) pop musical movements which itself has divided into periodic sub-movements that were, until the 90s, regular. I don't think the music today is any better or worse, nor do I think that people are any more or less creative.

I mostly don't have any theories—I'm certainly not emotionally invested in any—about why these periodic changes have stopped. The only thought I have is a mild suspicion that we're due for a big revolution in popular music like the invention of rock/r&b that occured in the 50s. Maybe not. There could be any number of other cultural forces at work that would cause that periodicity to change. Perhaps the consumption and distribution of popular music is such that everything is fragmenting into microgenres without the context of larger movements. I suspect that is playing a strong role regardless of whether there's other things going on, too.

You heard "the music today isn't as good as it was in my day and they're running out of ideas". That's not what I said.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:37 PM on July 22, 2007


ludwig_van, I think you managed to contribute quite a bit toward the negative turn yourself, I have to say, but I don't think that you are making an unreasonable point.

To me, the change does not seem to be the disappearance of musical innovation, but rather the fragmentation of musical markets. The internet has contributed significantly to this. If, as a dedicated music fan, you can find something that is pretty much exactly what you like, and then just get it, the musical mainstream, "pop" as we seem to be calling it here, will be more largely colonised by the lowest common denominator.

But let's keep a little perspective here. In 1980, the year in which Remain in Light was released, the highest charting single globally was by a 60s band (Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in The Wall (part 2)), and while Blondie's "Call Me" was the best selling US single of the year, Floyd spent 4 weeks at #1, Lennon and McCartney 4 between them, Kenny Rogers spent 6 and Barbra Streisand 3. Over here in the UK, of course, St. Winifred's School Choir managed #1 for the last week of 1980 and the first week of 1981. There's also a huge amount of crap on both sides of the Atlantic that it would take too long to describe ("Sailing", anyone?).

Now you might love or hate any of the aforementioned artists, but they do not represent the bleeding edge of musical innovation. There will always be a tendency toward, if not nostalgia, at least kindly memory. We tend to forget the rubbish that was number one, tend to forget being baffled by the crap that people bought, and instead recall the great stuff that we listened to, and that mattered to us. This is, of course, as it should be.

However, I'm not sure that Ethereal Bligh's perspective is not, to a certain extent, at least, affected by this tendency. Historical trends only really emerge when regarded from sufficient distance. In twenty years time we may well be looking back at the apparently obvious periodic shifts in popular music that occurred over the last 17 years.

Just dipping my musical cock in the pox-ridden groupie that is Metafilter.
posted by howfar at 4:58 PM on July 22, 2007


To me, the change does not seem to be the disappearance of musical innovation, but rather the fragmentation of musical markets. The internet has contributed significantly to this. If, as a dedicated music fan, you can find something that is pretty much exactly what you like,

my problem with this is that "exactly what i like" is music that's innovative, crosses boundaries and genres while still keeping a relationship to the pop/rock mainstream

a lot of genre bands seem very formulaic and conservative to me ...

Now you might love or hate any of the aforementioned artists, but they do not represent the bleeding edge of musical innovation.

i'm not sure that talking about the 1# records of any year is going to give you the bleeding edge
posted by pyramid termite at 5:08 PM on July 22, 2007


I think languagehat was the one who caused this thread to take a turn towards the obnoxious.

Right. When you tell EB he's wrong, that's just good honest discourse, but when I tell you you're wrong, that's obnoxious. Gotcha.

And your whole elaborately constructed edifice of "it's all nostalgia" is nonsense. Like EB, I'm the last person to say "things aren't as good as they used to be." You're retreating into a very silly argument about how everything is basically the same when "regarded from sufficient distance," and, well, it's just silly. If you want to discuss the actual differences in the movements I named, have at it. Right now you're posturing and waving your music-theory dick, and it's not working.
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on July 22, 2007


my problem with this is that "exactly what i like" is music that's innovative, crosses boundaries and genres while still keeping a relationship to the pop/rock mainstream

I suspect that really is going to be a problem for you. I don't think that talk of a pop/rock mainstream is going to stay even as meaningful as it currently is. In some ways my feelings on the subject coincide with Ethereal Bligh's hunch. I think we are potentially in the midst of profound change, but that it is mainly cultural and economic, rather than purely musical. However, I would argue that the emergence of the pop/rock mainstream was also an event of this type. It seems to have as much to do with the relaxation of postwar austerity (in Britain), the development of the "teenager" as independent consumer, TV and radio as national and international information distribution systems, &c. as it has to do with the particular technical and technological developments that have influenced and characterised the structures and sounds of pop/rock music. Perhaps we really are moving into a "post-rock" era, and perhaps that's not such a bad thing. The old warhorse has certainly had a damn good run.

i'm not sure that talking about the 1# records of any year is going to give you the bleeding edge

You're right, of course, but that's pretty close to the point I was making. The mainstream is naturally conservative, but when we remember past musical eras, we don't tend to remember that conservatism, but rather the awesome stuff that we liked and listened to. This makes objective comparison between the present and the past extremely difficult. There is a natural tendency toward regarding the present moment as historically unique. The problem is, of course, that it just might be.
posted by howfar at 5:52 PM on July 22, 2007



i bought my musical cock from jimmy page


And he stole it from the black man.
posted by anazgnos at 6:02 PM on July 22, 2007


I suspect that really is going to be a problem for you.

it already is ... there was a time 35 years ago when it actually seemed pretty possible to keep up with it all and get a sense that it was all relating and reacting to each other

soon after, it fragmented ... for awhile it seemed like all the little musical subcultures were at least looking in on each other a bit ... but this decade, i kind of don't feel that anymore

it's hard to describe or quantize, but just the fact that it is says something ... and alas, although i've heard decent stuff lately, i haven't heard anything recently that i'd call awesome

And he stole it from the black man.

well, at least mine wasn't stolen from a castrato black man like robert plant's was
posted by pyramid termite at 6:13 PM on July 22, 2007


These memories can't wait
posted by jaronson at 7:53 PM on July 22, 2007


To me, the change does not seem to be the disappearance of musical innovation, but rather the fragmentation of musical markets.

Historical trends only really emerge when regarded from sufficient distance. In twenty years time we may well be looking back at the apparently obvious periodic shifts in popular music that occurred over the last 17 years.


Yup.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:57 PM on July 22, 2007


>>This is the worst middle-aged daisy chain I've ever seen in my life.

>You mean circle jerk. Daisy chain was the generation before.

Go back far enough, and you get your chocolate in my peanut butter.

I'm old, too. The first LP I remember buying was Fear of Music, at my small town K-mart. There and the Hudson's Bay were the only places you could buy music in town, and the selection was... less than stellar.

Anway, there's great swaths of really kickass music being made these days to counterbalance the Clearchannel commercial radio garbage, so I'm happy to mix the new with the nostalgic old, when I find something that tweaks my head or heart.

I never did much care for Talking Heads, though, beyond the 'hits'. My loss, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:52 PM on July 22, 2007


Historical trends only really emerge when regarded from sufficient distance. In twenty years time we may well be looking back at the apparently obvious periodic shifts in popular music that occurred over the last 17 year

Except not, People in and out of the scenes were talking about Rock-a-billy, British Invasion, Punk, New wave, Hip Hop and Grunge as these things were happening and they were recognized as new big movements. What do we have in the 90's? After giving us hope in the late 90s with Neosoul, Hip Hop is officially dead and in Rock we have Indie Rock, one of the most unoriginal genres of all time, (after I found out about Gang of Four, i was able to through out a third of my Indie Rock albums). The only interesting things coming from pop are in Electronic Music, but even there it seems like most of the interesting stuff came out in the 1990s.

If there were interesting and unique new movements happening, people would be talking about them. The fact that this isn't happening is a sign of a fundamental change in the way pop music works.
posted by afu at 10:17 PM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Christ, guys. This was a perfectly enjoyable Talking Heads lovefest, and now no one can hear the music over all the yelling.
posted by painquale at 4:33 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


This ain't no party. This ain't no disco.

This ain't no fooling around.

posted by ludwig_van at 4:35 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


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