Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday PSTSS: "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"

I wasn't a Talking Heads fan back when they were still together and making music; in fact, the only recordings of their's I own are the two-cd collection Sand in the Vaseline (which includes pretty much every song of theirs that ever got so much as a moment of radio play) and their awesome live album, Stop Making Sense, both of which I picked up used long after the Heads had dissolved and gone their separate ways. (Wait, I take that back: a friend of mine a couple of years ago burned me a copy of The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, a collection of early live tracks; it's definitely a good record, if only for completion's sake.) They were, to be sure, an enormously accomplished and fascinating band, but there's also something distant and creepy and nihilistic about much of their music, despite how terrificly cool and fun a lot of their songs are. Much of that creepiness surely was the result of David Byrne, whom comes off in most of the accounts I've read as a seriously weird (and not in a friendly way) individual. The tortured artist and all that? Maybe. He writes good tunes though.

I liked this song (which was originally recorded for Speaking in Tongues) when I first heard it; a clever and funky love song, I thought. But I didn't really get it, didn't really grasp it as the pop gem it is, until I was married and in graduate school, reading philosophy and thinking about hermeneutics and interpretation and "naivete," trying to move forward in my relationship with my wife, and listening to Shawn Colvin. She covered this song on her album Cover Girl, and her plaintive, beautiful rendition of it--climaxing with her reading of the line, "you've got a face with a view"--sent me reeling, and sent me back to the original another listen. It is, simply, one of the most duplicitously simple (indeed, "naive," in what I would argue is the full, Ricoeurian sense) odes to belonging and being in the right place at the right time and the lucky (or is it?) happenstance of love that I can imagine. It's that good. (At one point I was actually going to include the lyrics in the acknowledgments section of my dissertation, but then decided that not even a true Heads fan would be that pretentious.)

Home is where I want to be;
pick me up and turn me round.
I feel numb--burn with a weak heart--
I guess I must be having fun.

The less we say about it the better--
make it up as we go along.
Feet on the ground;
head in the sky;
it's ok--I know nothing's wrong . . . nothing.
Hi yo--I got plenty of time.
Hi yo--you got light in your eyes.

And you're standing here beside me.
I love the passing of time.
Never for money;
always for love;
cover up and say goodnight . . . say goodnight.

Home is where I want to be;
but I guess I'm already there.
I come home--she lifted up her wings--
guess that this must be the place.

I can't tell one from another--
did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time,
before we were born;
if someone asks, this where I'll be . . . where I'll be .
Hi yo--we drift in and out.
Hi yo--sing into my mouth.

Out of all those kinds of people:
you've got a face with a view.
I'm just an animal,
looking for a home.
Share the same space for a minute or two.

And you love me till my heart stops;
love me till I'm dead.
Eyes that light up;
eyes look through you;
cover up the blank spots--hit me on the head . . . ah ooh.


The Modesto Kid said...

Did you read Byrne's op-ed piece in today's NY Times? A lovely memoir of his interactions with Robert Rauschenberg, here.

I have a couple of Talking Heads records but only ever really listened to "Stop Making Sense", and to Byrne's song with the lines "And you may tell yourself/ This is not my beautiful house!/ And you may tell yourself/ This is not my beautiful wife!", I don't remember what record that is on though. "Stop Making Sense" is one of the greatest concert films ever, I think. (Key trivia point: the other concert film by director Johnathan Demme, also one of the greatest ever, is Storefront Hitchcock.)

Russell Arben Fox said...

Storefront Hitchcock, huh? I'd never heard of it before just now. I Googled it; looks cool. Thanks; Modesto; I'll have to put it on my Netflix list. (Oh, and the "this is not my beautiful wife!" line comes from "Once in the Lifetime," off of Remain in Light.)

The Modesto Kid said...

That's right, Remain in Light -- somehow I have no memory of ever listening to the record but remember listening to that song over and over.

Enjoy SH -- though there is a lot of Hitchock's trippy monologues which I love but YMMV, the key thing is the music. The first few times I watched it, by about 2/3 of the way through I was just too much in awe of the things he was doing with his guitar to keep processing more input.

Scott--DFW said...

I think you might underestimate your level of affinity with a lot of Byrne's thinking, Russell. Skim through some of his old blog posts, and I think you'll find yourself more often in agreement than not.

Also, the "naive melody" concept went beyond the words of the song. The band members traded instruments for the recording, resulting in a spare, basic, "naive" arrangement and performance.