By David Byrne
How song Works is David Byrne’s outstanding and buoyant get together of a subject matter he has spent an entire life pondering. In it he explores how profoundly tune is formed through its time and position, and he explains how the appearance of recording know-how within the 20th century eternally replaced our dating to enjoying, acting, and hearing music.
Acting as historian and anthropologist, raconteur and social scientist, he searches for styles and indicates how these styles have affected his personal paintings through the years with conversing Heads and his many collaborators, from Brian Eno to Caetano Veloso. Byrne sees song as a part of a bigger, virtually Darwinian development of variations and responses to its cultural and actual context. His diversity is panoptic, taking us from Wagnerian opera homes to African villages, from his earliest highschool reel-to-reel recordings to his newest paintings in a house tune studio (and all of the vast studios in between).
Touching at the pleasure, the physics, or even the enterprise of constructing tune, How tune Works is a brainy, impossible to resist experience and an impassioned argument approximately music’s releasing, life-affirming strength.
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Throughout the three-piece and four-piece periods, Talking Heads songs, and even the shows, were still mostly about self-examination, angst, and bafflement at the world we found ourselves in. Psychological stuff. Inward-looking clumps of words combined with my slightly removed “anthropologist from Mars” view of human relationships. The groove was always there, as a kind of physical body-oriented antidote to this nervous angsty flailing, but the groove never took over. It served as a sonic and psychological safety net, a link to the body.
In the middle of the night I woke up and realized that Led Zeppelin was playing. I think they were the biggest act on the bill, but I went back to sleep. In the early morning I was awake again and caught Dr. John, who closed the festival. He was in full Night Tripper mode, and I loved that record, so I was excited to see him. He came out in carnival drag, playing his funky voodoo jive, and the UK audience pelted him with beer cans. I was confused. Here was the most original act of the whole festival, dumped into the worst slot, and he was completely unappreciated by this crowd.
Alternatively, the expressiveness could be ramped up, and playing became more florid and even less on the grid. This too was unemotional; it veered toward chaos. Musicians sort of knew this already—that the emotional center is not the technical center, that funky grooves are not square, and what sounds like a simple beat can either be sensuous or simply a metronomic timekeeper, depending on the player. Throughout the three-piece and four-piece periods, Talking Heads songs, and even the shows, were still mostly about self-examination, angst, and bafflement at the world we found ourselves in.