Talking Heads

First Week/Last Week…Carefree

Talking Heads – First Week/Last Week…Carefree

Here we are, new week. Over the weekend I managed to do one of the things I had planned to do from the previous weekend but there are still other things that got pushed off again for some other weekend. Then there are the tasks you need to accomplish during the work week that have nothing to do with work. If only we could all choose our own work schedules. Think how much happier and more productive people would be if they knew they could have time to make those phone calls to deal with things and not have to take vacation time to do it.


David Byrne – Blind

One of those September shows was David Byrne. I’d always regretted that I hadn’t seen Talking Heads before they broke up. Not that I really had the chance but it wasn’t physically impossible. I have felt this way since Stop Making Sense came out. I was in my senior year of high school and a friend and I went to see it at this tiny movie theater in our town up in Maine. Of course back then, I didn’t think I would never get the chance. We left our seats and danced in the aisle; I remember thinking, wow, imagine how great this would be in real life.

I also had thought about going to see David Byrne when he teamed up with St. Vincent for Love This Giant but I couldn’t really swing it. Earlier this year I heard about David Byrne’s tour for his latest album American Utopia. I checked out the schedule but the nearest venues for me were far away and not good timing so I didn’t get a ticket. As luck would have it, he announced a second string of dates with a show just a little farther than my usual haunts and it was even on a weekend! It was a seated venue I hadn’t been to before so I wanted to get a good seat. As soon as pay day rolled around, I managed to get a spot with only two people next to me and no one in front of me in the first tier (up three steps from the floor). It often pays to need only one ticket!

When I got there, the spot was even better than I had expected due to the weird way they configured the stairs and the railing. I had my own little private triangle of dancing space in front of my seat. 10/10, would buy again! But I was worried that people would be duds and not get up and dance and yell at me to sit down. No one was on their feet for the opening band, tUnEyArDs, and there were a lot of bald and gray-haired heads in the crowd. Thankfully those fears were put to rest as soon as the house lights went down and everyone in the packed auditorium was on their feet for the duration.

I don’t really think it’s possible to describe this show adequately. It was magical. David Byrne is a creative genius. It was equal parts theater performance, marching band routine, choreographed dance, light show, and concert. To say nothing of how talented, diverse, and international the band was. Everyone barefoot and in identical gray suits. Six percussionists wearing their instruments like a high school drum line. A keyboard player likewise outfitted. Two back-up singers/dancers, a guitar player, a bass player, and all wireless. Musicians came and went through a beaded backdrop that created three sides of a cube. So much to see and take in. I could have seen it every night for a week and still not have gotten it all.

There were a lot of Talking Heads songs but also plenty from the new album, and songs from his earlier collaborations and projects as well. I don’t think I will ever see anything like it ever again. It easily belongs in my top twenty concerts of all time, maybe even in the top ten. And that’s not just me, my sister and brother-in-law saw the show a few days later in New York and were similarly blown away. My mother’s neighbor saw it up in Maine and described it as “off-the-charts amazing.” In looking for a video to use with this post, I came across one from a woman in London who wrote in the description, “I think this is the best live show I’m ever going to see.” A sentiment echoed by NME.

I hope he had it filmed at some point because even though videos don’t really capture the energy of a live performance, it deserves to be professionally recorded. David Byrne is 66 years old and is not slowing down. I love that he is still as unconventional now as he was in the early days of Talking Heads. And it isn’t just for show, he walks the walk. He had along and urged everyone to vote, and they closed the night with a cover of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.”

The tour has moved on to Europe and then I think to New Zealand and Australia so I think you missed your chance if you didn’t get to go. I think it will be hard for him to top this but I’ll definitely keep my ears open for his next project.

Warning Sign

Talking Heads – Warning Sign

I have this one friend on Facebook who reposts things from his memories all the time. If you’re not on FB, it’s this feature that shows you what you posted on that day in years past. Reading these things now from a year, two years, or even longer ago is especially grim in our current circumstances. Yesterday he reposted a Tweet written by Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker which was incredibly prescient. Posted on Nov. 13, 2011, it said, “Be on the lookout for a mentally challenged pathological liar and sexual pervert. He could be the next GOP frontrunner.”

Stops you in your tracks. Some of us have been sounding the alarm for a long time and yet, here we are. I shudder to think where we might be a year from now. I read a couple of really depressing articles this week that just knock the wind out of you. Of course we keep fighting, keep resisting, but what about the gullible millions who are so angry and deluded that they steadfastly stand behind Der Orangeführer, no matter what? They’ve been brainwashed by Fox News and simply reject facts, truth, or expertise of any kind. You can not reason with them or explain anything to them that doesn’t fit into the narrow view they allow themselves to operate in. I know we outnumber them but they are not going anywhere any time soon and the Kochs and Mercers of this world will continue to feed the beast with their billions.

The Great Beyond

The Great Beyond

From before Twitler took office, I have felt that he would get us all killed. Today we dropped a massive bomb on Afghanistan, apparently, and are making threats to North Korea. So it seemed like maybe I should not keep holding on to my memorial service playlist but that the time is right to share it. After all, if we’re going to have World War III, I may as well make sure this is out there.

However, the caveat is not all of these songs are available online in the versions that I would actually like to use and it varies between Spotify and YouTube which ones had to be substituted. For that reason, I’m running down the list below. I also can’t help the visuals on some of these videos, which is why I prefer an audio only experience for this, but life could be short so I’m over it. YouTube above, Spotify below.

The Great Beyond
1. Angelika Suspended – Poi Dog Pondering (Spotify has the preferred version)
2. Just Breathe – Pearl Jam
3. If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out – Cat Stevens (here the YouTube is worth it for the Harold and Maude clips since that’s key to its selection)
4. Belong – R.E.M.
5. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi – Radiohead (Spotify for the studio version, though I like the Scotch Mist version fine, it’s not the “right” one)
6. Treefingers – Radiohead (optional – serves as a transition but could also be cut or used as music while people are milling about before things get started)
7. Blood of Eden – Peter Gabriel (YouTube is the correct version from Until the End of the World)
8. Calling All Angels – Jane Siberry with k.d.lang
9. Heaven – Talking Heads
10. Wendell Gee – R.E.M.
11. Untitled – R.E.M.
12. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads

While there are a lot of songs that you might think I would have on a playlist for my memorial service, this is meant to be something you can actually play for assembled grieving friends and family and not bum people out too much. It shouldn’t make people feel worse. At the same time, sometimes it’s good to cry and let it out. The idea is that this should be in place of any hymns or prayers since I am not religious, though there are some songs that gesture toward that, after all I have a number of church-going family members, including my aunt the nun.

In the days to come I’ll take each one as a separate post with more details but for now I’ll let it speak for itself.

Born Under Punches

Talking Heads – Born Under Punches

In just a few days, a matter of hours really, we will say goodbye to what has always been a given. Presidents come and go, some we wish would have left sooner, but I never before felt like our entire system of government was in jeopardy. Specific laws or rights have been under attack before but the very nature of our government?

The speed at which the Republicans in Congress have been trying to dismantle everything they fought against during the past 8 years is enough to make your head spin. Just keeping tabs on all the devious tactics feels like a full-time job. I worry that we won’t all be able to maintain this level of attention once Twitler is in office.

I keep seeing articles where it outlines all of the reasons why Trumpenführer is headed for impeachment but I just can’t see Ryan or McConnell doing anything to stop him. They are having too good a time screwing over the vast majority of the population. Just look at those shit-eating grins they’re sporting in every picture of either of them since Election Day.

It’s so impossible for me to contemplate living under a fascist that I’ve been imagining what else could possibly be in our future. Those assholes in Congress are so craven and ruthless that they will keep forging ahead with their plans and either ignore or support the Cheeto unless he does something that challenges their plans. I don’t think he’s smart enough to out fox them but I can imagine him becoming a political liability, especially if the Russia story gets more embarrassing. If it suits them, then maybe they’ll take up the cause to rid us of this disgrace. But then what?

Pence. He’s really an evil bastard. I actually wouldn’t put it past him to be working on some kind of scheme of his own to push the Orange Fool out and take over himself. I have previously been of the opinion that at least he’s a normal, if despicable, conservative politician and at least we know how to fight that kind of snake. But recently I’ve wondered if that would be better. I feel like I’d worry less about the country being ruled by a fascist authoritarian but Pence would probably do equal damage domestically. He wouldn’t Tweet us into World War III but he’s coming for your birth control and he wants to remove every LGBTQ protection we’ve managed to put in place. Education? Still fucked. The Supreme Court? Toast. Black Lives Matter? Not a chance. Worse yet, I feel like the relative “normalcy” Pence would bring might be enough to see a return to complacency amongst the general population. I want this over as soon as possible. Unless there’s some way to invalidate the election and never have either of them, while not handing things off to Ryan, then it’s hard to know what is the best possible outcome. It’s all so awful.

We have to keep our eyes on these slippery fuckers. These government men. Keep the heat on.

“All I want is to breathe.” Maybe in 2020.

(I encourage you to check out the whole concert this clip comes from. Really great. The comments contained this gem, “No one will ever be as attractive as Tina Weymouth is in this video.” Those biceps!)

Life During Wartime


Talking Heads – Life During Wartime

This ain’t no fooling around. Another day, another hoooollly fuck. How is this real life?

I really can’t imagine what life will be like in two months. Two months. That’s all we have left. I am not one for dystopian novels but I’m beginning to think perhaps I should’ve read a few as a survival guide.


Talking Heads – Heaven

Yesterday I went to a funeral for my former boss at my previous job. He had been really ill from cancer and honestly, if he wasn’t going to beat it (which he wasn’t) then I’m glad he wasn’t suffering any longer. But. He was only one year older than me and he leaves his wife to raise their 13-year-old son alone. His older brother had died some years earlier so there were his parents, outliving both of their children. It was all very sad and it sure made you think about how unfair and random life can be.

He was not religious, pretty agnostic I’d say, so it seemed a bit odd to have the service led by the hospice chaplain. To hear him tell it, after just two visits, my old boss had become a believer.

Maybe I’m just too cynical. Maybe everything the chaplain said was true, or if not true, perhaps it was at least comforting to people who would feel better about the situation if they thought he had come to peace with god before he died.

Not being inclined that way myself, I found my thoughts drifting while the chaplain rambled on about what awaits us in the hereafter. I can appreciate that it would be a difficult day and probably your loved ones are not in a condition to be playing the role that the chaplain did, but this is why I have my funeral playlist. There were a number of songs played at my old boss’s service yesterday. Some unconventional choices which, while not what I was expecting having listened to his music booming out from his office for the better part of five years, were at least a nod to the man everyone knew.

So I returned to the thoughts about what is a service for? My mother pointed out that a funeral, in her book an actual sacrament and religious rite, is more about sending that person off with all the appropriate prayers and solemnity one expects. A memorial service could be more of an occasion for friends and family to remember the person and celebrate their life, tell funny or heartfelt stories. More about the person, less about the death and dying.

I kept thinking, when this is over, and we are safely out of earshot in our car, I am telling my husband, do not let any service for me be like this. Do not, under any circumstances, let some priest who never (or barely) met me, stand up and tell everyone what his ideas are about what I was thinking at the end, or how I was feeling. What comes next. You take my now-renamed memorial service playlist and you hit play.

This song is on there. If it gives people comfort to think about me up in heaven (which I don’t believe in) then let it at least be a bar where the band plays my favorite song, plays it all night long.

Burning Down the House

#WhereILivedWednesday: Mrs. Black’s House

This is part of a series of entries about places you once called home, started by Ann Imig of Ann’s Rants. Check out the links on her site for more stories!

My mother started a new job in a small Maine town during the summer of 1983. Our house in New York was on the market but not generating much interest and the three of us still left at home needed to join my mother up in Maine by the start of the school year. When the first day of school rolled around, we were still living at a summer place an hour away, in the tiny beach town where we’d spent many summers of our childhood. After two weeks of making that drive with three reluctant passengers at 6am, my mother found someplace closer to school.

Our new temporary home was also a summer house, right down by the water, but in the same town as my mom’s new job and our school. It was owned by an old lady named Mrs. Black who cleared out after Labor Day and was happy to have some extra income by renting it to us. The reason she moved back into town then was because the house wasn’t winterized; a new term for me that I didn’t fully appreciate until later.

At first it was great. September in Maine is still beautiful, with the fall colors starting, and you could still look forward to warm afternoons. The house had a very large open room with a double fireplace smack in the middle. One corner was the dining area, the opposite corner had a big sofa and one of those lobster trap tables common in Maine summer houses. There were two bedrooms back behind the living room area of the open room, and one small bathroom. There was another bedroom tucked in behind the kitchen but it was a little creepy and we preferred to double up in the regular bedrooms.

Even though we were now in the same town as our school, it was about as far away as you could be and still be in the same district. We could have taken a school bus, and in fact my younger sister did start taking the bus home from school after a couple of weeks. But my older sister and I were New York snobs and absolutely refused to do anything so rural as ride a school bus. Besides, there was nothing to do at Mrs. Black’s house. It was lovely but remote. You could go for a walk past the deserted summer community and that was about it. My mother borrowed a black and white tv from a young guy in her office but again, being that far away from a broadcast center, you could get maybe two channels, no cable, no MTV.

September turned to October and the sun set earlier every day. Those crisp fall days everyone loves? Not so fun when your summer cabin has no heat or insulation. That big double fireplace didn’t really work. We tried once but just managed to smoke up the whole room. There actually was some kind of electric heat source, a grate in the floor blew hot air when you flipped a switch on the wall, but after my younger sister nearly set her sweater on fire by placing it on top of the grate to warm up one frosty morning, my mother declared it off limits. The bedroom my older sister and I shared had a little space heater that was basically like leaving the door open on a toaster oven. We were allowed to run it for a few minutes before going to bed to take the chill off the room so you could stand to change into pajamas. Under no circumstances were we allowed to let it run all night for fear of it shorting out and starting a fire. I think my mother was more afraid of us burning down the rental house than of our own personal safety but it was a pretty sketchy heater so we obeyed.

By November it was bad. Really bad. We now had no hot water either. It turns out that one night when it got really cold, the hot water pipe had cracked and every time we turned on the hot water, instead of coming out of the sink or shower head, it was dumped onto the rocks beneath the house and trickled down to the ocean. We wore long underwear, sweatpants, and flannel nightgowns, all at the same time, two pairs of socks, and mittens, when we went to bed. My mother and little sister started sharing a twin bed, for warmth, with the cat sleeping on top of them trying to get in on some of that body heat.

We lived out there until Thanksgiving. Our house in New York still hadn’t sold but we couldn’t stay in the non-winterized house any longer. A person my mother knew at work had built a new house and was having trouble selling his old one, just like we were. He agreed to rent it to us until he had a buyer or we managed to sell ours and finally really move up to Maine.

Hey, it’s my two-year blogiversary! I’ve got a tradition going now of posting Talking Heads songs on this day, this makes the third one. We listened to this album a lot that first year up in Maine, and the last song on the record is my favorite TH song, but that’s the song on my first post so I took this one instead. It seemed to fit better anyway.

Once in a Lifetime

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

And you may ask yourself, how do I work this?
And you may ask yourself, where is that large automobile?

Every once in a while, I find myself feeling this way. Am I really an adult responsible for raising two children? Am I really supposed to know all the things the other parents seem to know like, what makes an acceptable contribution to the golf-themed gift basket (?!) for my second grader’s school fund raiser? I feel like David Byrne, hitting his head over and over again. Surely I missed some vital information along the way here. I’m the person who decides what we’re all having for dinner (and has to make it)? How the hell did that happen? The family is counting on me to keep a roof over out heads and large automobiles in the driveway? What?!

You may ask yourself, am I right am I wrong?
You may say to yourself, my god what have I done?

The doubt creeps in during those quiet moments. When the sixth grader’s science homework question (water dissolving) suddenly has me unsure of everything I thought I knew. Crap! I forgot all this stuff after the test! I thought we were never supposed to need to know it anymore! I’ve been entrusted with making sure two whole people become thoughtful, intelligent members of society?! Shit! You know, it was easy when they were babies, I thought, I’ve got this. Teach them to walk, write their names, ride a bike, no problem. The discipline wasn’t too hard, teaching what’s good and what’s bad was pretty cut and dried. As they’ve gotten older though, there is much that is hard to define and I look at them sleeping and think, ooof. We have not even hit the teenage years yet.

Same as it ever was, Same As It Ever Was!

I’m sure this is nothing new. I’m sure my mother had no idea when she was 23 and had my oldest sister, what lay in store for her. I think most people who contemplate having children tend to think about babies, toddlers, young school-aged children. My kids are still young but I can see what’s just on the other side and I remember what kind of trouble teenagers can get into. My high schools resembled Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Most of us made it out just fine, but not everyone. How much of that is luck and how much is shaped by what I’m doing now? Letting the second grader take his Skylander figure to school is not a decision that’s going to alter the universe much. Letting the sixth grader start to go places on her own and unsupervised gets a little harder. By the time we get to learning to drive I am sure I will have an ulcer.

Time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us
Letting the days go by, letting the days go by

It’s good that this all happens really slowly over months and years. It isn’t really just Once in a Lifetime. There are days when you might wish for the current phase to be over and to have only existed that one time. Like colic. But by now you know that whatever you’re currently dealing with will pass, there will be a little lull and then the next challenge will crop up. Until then, you just have to let the days go by, into the blue again. Dancing may help.


David Byrne & St. Vincent – Who

This video comes from the first single off of the album Love This Giant, the collaboration between David Byrne and St. Vincent. I love that David Byrne is still out there, being himself* (and looking more like David Lynch’s brother with that white hair), and they are taking the show on the road.

BrooklynVegan has been posting a tour diary from Kelly Pratt, who is one of the horn players on tour. It’s pretty interesting and not just because I like the album and am a long time Talking Heads fan. For instance, who knew that marching band experience could ever come in handy off the football field? Band geeks unite! And that nearly the entire band has taken bicycles with them on the road. Is that not the coolest thing ever?! Did you know David Byrne has designed bike racks before? I do think I read that somewhere once but have you seen what this company can do to a bike rack? So freaking awesome!! I want one!

(click the links, you will be rewarded with things like a video of Burning Down the House from the Minneapolis show this past Saturday night.)

I played the French horn in junior high and high school. I don’t think any of us ever thought our time sweating it out in our band uniforms would ever end in anything as cool as touring with David Byrne & St. Vincent. We were mostly thinking that it got us out of study skills or some other lame class no one wanted to take. Our band teacher in New York was adamant that the French horn could only be played properly if sitting down so we never marched with our French horns. We played the euphonium when we marched, which was nice since it was smaller and easier to carry.

The band teacher up in Maine, where we moved halfway through high school, was not so particular about our proper French horn posture so we marched with our horns. To make matters worse, we also had those Buckingham Palace guard style hats. Somewhere at my mother’s house there is a perfectly awful picture of me, in that band uniform, playing the French horn on the football field. I look about 20 pounds heavier too because I had three layers on underneath to try and keep from freezing. Marching band in Maine suuuucked. It sucks everywhere but November in Maine is already winter. You couldn’t be in band the rest of the year unless you did marching band in the fall. Although I did know these two kids who signed up for hunting lessons just because they conflicted with football games and they managed to get away with it. As a recently transplanted New Yorker, that struck me as being the ultimate sign that we were really in the boonies.

* Case in point, he has a new book out too, How Music Works.