Talking Heads’ ‘Remain In Light’ is ahead of its time

Back to Article
Back to Article

Talking Heads’ ‘Remain In Light’ is ahead of its time

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Talking Heads was formed in New York City in 1975, led by singer-songwriter David Byrne.

They released three albums in the 1970s and they all were typical, new wave rock albums for the time.

In 1980, Talking Heads would release one of the greatest albums of all time, “Remain In Light.”

The album cover features the four members of the band in close-up shots with their faces covered in red masks, defying the typical image-based media of the music industry.

Brian Eno, longtime producer for the band, took a huge part in the making of “Remain In Light,” becoming almost a fifth member.

The album opens with “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On),” a Goliath of a song.

David Byrne wails like a madman as the bass line jitters and bubbles. You can hear the utter hysteria in his voice as he yells about being a “tumbler” and a “government man.”

There are two different choruses on the song. The first one is somber and flowing, the second is an eponymous chant of “The heat goes on — where the hand has been.”

In the second half of the song, the first chorus is ingeniously put on top of the second.

The second track is titled “Crosseyed and Painless.”

The instrumental is mechanical, fitting well with Byrne’s lyrics about false information.

Byrne plays a man obsessed with facts and paranoia.

Byrne plays a character on every song on the album. He plays these characters so well that often you can’t tell if he’s playing a character at all.

The third song, “The Great Curve,” is the most musically impressive of the tracks.

They take the trick of layering hooks from the first track and push it to the nth degree.

During the chorus, you can hear at least four distinct voices chant at the same time over the bouncy horn-driven instrumental.

Within all of this, Byrne sings about the world not adding up (keeping with the theme of paranoia) and a woman he sees as an explanation to it all.

He sings, “The world moves on a woman’s hips.”

The song closes with a guitar solo from Adrian Belew, known as the guitarist for the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson.

The B-side opens with “Once In a Lifetime,” Talking Heads’ most popular song.

In this song, Byrne plays the role of a televangelist preacher, talk-singing lyrics about realizing you have gone through your life without much thought.

“And you may find yourself in a beautiful house — with a beautiful wife — and you may ask yourself, well — how did I get here?”

The triumphant chorus and memorable music video have made it one of the most well-remembered songs of the 1980s.

The fifth song is called “Houses In Motion.” It begins the descent the album takes into the ethereal.

Byrne’s vocals are stated simply in a monotone voice before you are hit with the funky and manic chorus.

This ghostly theme is continued on tracks six and seven, “Seen and Not Seen” and “Listening Wind,” respectively.

Both tracks are subdued.

The album explodes out of the gate and slowly fades away, especially on the final song, “The Overload.”

“Remain In Light” was decades ahead of its time.

Despite the fact that the album came out in 1980, it sounds like it comes from 2080.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email