Talking Heads

            Talking Heads was one of the premier punk bands of the 1970s and 1980s, and were considered by many to be leaders in the revolutionary new wave of punk music that was sweeping the US and the UK at the time. This was especially true in 1980, when they released the album Remain in Light. It was their fourth studio album, but certainly one of their most ambitious up to that point. One of its most notable features was the inclusion of “Once in a Lifetime,” a song that was named by talk radio station NPR as one of the most influential pieces of music to emerge from the United States during the twentieth century.

Punk music is often associated with raucous lyrics, sometimes more screamed than sung. It is also associated with a strong presence of drums and guitar. While Talking Heads found impressively innovative ways to utilize percussion and bass, their melodies were much more ambient than those of many other punk bands at the time. Their lyrics, while strong, were also easier on the ears than music by punk bands such as Black Flag. In similar fashion to punk bands such as The Clash, Talking Heads was known for basing their lyrics on the life lessons they had learned since beginning their career. For instance, “Once in a Lifetime” is about the midlife crisis that arises from growing older and having to let go of ideals held in youth.

It’s worth noting that Remain in Light followed their album Fear of Music, another album with songs that addressed the difficulties of living in the then-modern era. The lyrics in albums such as these are essentially timeless, applying to those in all walks of life who have had to grow and adjust to a modernizing world.

Of course, like all bands, the spirit of their success was in the music. The bass lines and percussion in their songs were more than just inventive; they somehow managed to mix with the Talking Heads’ ambient sound in an implausible fashion, combining beats and melodies that wouldn’t traditionally go together, and did not always appear to match the tone of the lyrics at first glance.

Not every song was some innovative take on music set to the strong lyrics of David Byrne. Sometimes, a band just has to be a band. While their producer, Brian Eno, certainly encouraged them to keep things fresh, they also managed to turn out barebones numbers that were not entirely innovative but still managed to have an impact on the music world. Byrne may have liked to write lyrics that commented on the artificial nature of our lives and of American culture, but he also knew the basics. Attempting to write an honest love song, he came out with “This Must Be the Place,” one of the band’s most popular songs ever.

Talking Heads might have been a new wave band, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t able to rock the essentials. As a band not only able to deliver quality standard numbers as well as unique and progressive hits, they made it big in the 1980s with albums such as Fear of Music, Remain in Light, and Speaking in Tongues. Given the quality of some of their breakout hits, it isn’t surprising that their legacy has far surpassed the 1980s, extending into today.

You might also like

Legendary Bands

The Clash

The Clash got together in 1976, and they are one of the most memorable names in 1970s British punk music to this day. They experimented with numerous other musical styles,

Legendary Bands

The Police

            The Police began in 1977 as a new wave rock band influenced by multiple musical styles. Not only were they influenced by other subgenres

Legendary Bands

The Yardbirds

            The Yardbirds were one of the premier British rock bands to perform during the 1960s. Their style was all over the place in terms

Legendary Bands

The Eagles

            The Eagles are known for having accommodated a number of popular musical styles into their songs. For instance, they are primarily a rock and

Legendary Bands

The Ramones

While bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols were at the height of popularity in the punk music scene coming out of Britain in the 1970s, the Ramones were

Rock N Roll

John Lennon

            John Lennon grew to popularity while performing as a member of the Beatles. Not only was he known for his voice, but also for