Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Burning Down the House" by Talking Heads

Top 10 Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1547
Date:  07/30/1983
Debut:  84
Peak:  9
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Rock, New Wave, Art Rock

Pop Bits:  Formed in NYC in 1975, this band would release an acclaimed debut LP in 1977 titled Talking Heads: 77. A single from the album, "Psycho Killer," would be a blip on the singles chart at #92. However, their second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, would spawn their first Pop hit when a remake of "Take Me to the River" (an album track recorded in 1974 by Al Green) reached #26. The album did well, as did their next two, but mainstream acceptance and success eluded them (despite being critical darlings and having a rabid fan base). However, that would change when this first single from their fifth studio album, Speaking in Tongues, found its way to the Pop Top 10 (#6 Rock). Exposure on MTV certainly helped as the video became a favorite and was put into heavy rotation. The album would be their highest peaking reaching #15 and it would become their first to go platinum.

ReduxReview:  Around this time, I knew about the Talking Heads, but I'm not sure if I'd heard any of their music. I just knew the critics ate them up and pretty much 5-starred anything they did. So like many folks, this was probably my first real exposure to the band. And what an introduction. I liked it when it came out, I absolutely love it now. It is just a freakin' brilliant track. From the groove, to David Byrne's delivery, to that awesome breakdown section, it is perfect piece of pop/rock/new wave. The band had several other brilliant songs, but since this is the one that lured me into them, it remains my favorite track of theirs.


Trivia:  The title for the track was inspired by a performance by another band. Talking Heads member Chris Frantz went to see the funk band Parliment-Funkadelic and during the show the crowd chanted "burn down the house!" Later, the Heads were in a jam session and Chris Frantz repeated the chant. David Byrne liked it and then later updated it to "burning down the house." As the jam took form into a song, Byrne would say nonsensical things over the music and just assembled the lyrics based on what fit the groove and what lines seemed to create a theme. Therefore, the finished lyrics, while fitting well with the music and sounding great, don't necessarily make a lot of sense.


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