Music Tidbits: Talking Heads

  • David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth attended art school together in Providence, Rhode Island. It was there that the three formed their first music group called “The Artistics” in 1974. This first band fell apart within a year, but when the three moved to New York City together, they continued to be work on music and even shared an apartment together.

  • Chris and Tina were dating at the time and married in 1977. They are still together to this day.

  • June 8, 1975 the group played their first show together as the Talking Heads. They opened up for the Ramones and the performance took place at the legendary club CBGBs.

Photo Via jlacpo [Flickr]

  • The name “Talking Heads” cam from a friend of Tina’s, who found the name in the TV Guide, where it was used to describe “a head-and-shoulder shot of a person talking as 'all content, no action,'” Weymouth explained, “It fit.”

  • A year later, the group added their forth and final member, Jerry Harrison. He previously played with The Modern Lovers.

  • Sire Records signed the band in 1977 and group soon released their first single, "Love ? Building on Fire.” Interestingly, their first album, Talking Heads: 77, did not contain this single.

  • Many music fans recognize the name Brian Eno as a famous producer that worked with Roxy Music, David Bowie and U2. He also is known for his long relationship with the Talking Heads and David Byrne. He met the group when he began working with them on their second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food. Eno recorded a song in 1977 called “King’s Lead Hat,” which is actually an anagram of “Talking Heads.”

  • If you’ve ever used the phrase “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,” you have the band’s single “Life During Wartime” to thank.

  • In 1980, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz began working on a separate project, the popular alternative band, Tom Tom Club. At this same time, both David Byrne and Jerry Harrison decided to release solo albums.

  • One of the band’s most popular songs “Once in a Lifetime,” was not a hit initially, but grew in popularity due to a very strong and interesting music video. You may recognize the song as the one that says “And you may tell yourself ‘This is not my beautiful house!’ And you may tell yourself ‘This is not my beautiful wife!’” While I couldn't find a quality video version of it, I did find this Muppets version that is strikingly close (and perhaps even more fun):

  • The group’s 1983 album Speaking in Tongues was followed up with their last tour, which was captured in the documentary Stop Making Sense. The film is largely regarded as one of the top music documentaries ever created.

  • The film True Stories was created by David Byrne and features all of the band members. The group covered all the songs in the film and released them as an album with the same name.

  • Radiohead got together in 1985 and decided to name themselves after the Talking Head’s song “Radio Head.”

Photo Via Talking Heads Website [Link]

  • Although the Talking Heads stopped working together after their last album, Naked, was released in 1988, it took an additional three years before the band officially announced their break up.
    Within the same year as the band’s end, they did get back together one last time to record a single for the movie Until the End of the World. The video only featured two of the band’s members though.
    In 1996, David refused to get back together for another album, but the other members were interested and they released No Talking, Just Head under the band name The Heads. This record featured guest vocals from Debbie Harry of Blondie, Andy Partridge of XTC, Gordon Gano or Violent Femmes, Michael Hutchence of INXS, Richard Hell and more.

  • A tour followed the release of this album and Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde performed vocals during these live performances.

  • David Byrne was displeased with the group’s abbreviation of the name “Talking Heads” and opted to sue the group for acting on "a pretty obvious attempt to cash in on the Talking Heads name." (Photo: David Byrne)

  • In the years since, David Byrne has continued to work on soundtracks and solo albums, often with the help of Brian Eno. He also works as a visual artist and his work has been displayed in a number of art galleries around the world. Many of his public art installations have been anonymous though.

  • In 2005, he began working on a disco opera with Fatboy Slim. It will be based around the life of the former First Lady of the Phillipines, Imelda Marcos.

  • Last year, Byrn turned the entire Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan into a giant musical instrument. He hooked the pipes, heaters and other pieces of the structure electronically to a pipe organ.

  • Jerry Harrison has become an important producer who has worked with bands such as the Violent Femmes, the Fine Young Cannibals, General Public, Live and No Doubt.

  • Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth continued to record as the Tom Tom Club up until last year. Their singles have been sampled by Grandmaster Flash and Mariah Carey.

Photo Via Tom Tom Club Website []

  • While the Talking Heads did perform together for their 2002 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a reunion remains unlikely. David Byrne says his refusal to reunite comes down to differences in musical tastes and some bad blood between the group members. However, Tina is critical of David and has publicly referred to him as “a man incapable of returning friendship.”

Source #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

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actually wrote:
**radiohead were named "on a friday" before selecting "radiohead"**

yup, and pink floyd was called MEGADEATH

danno wrote:
**And what about Adrian Belew then..?**

good call, danno - the wikipedia entry for talking heads, from which all of the above information was stripped, doesn't mention belew - therefore this plagiarized site wouldn't have it either . . . funny, tho, adrian's wiki page DOES mention his work with talking heads in detail, maybe jill just didn't have time to climb that hill . . .

Gail Pink wrote:
**David Byrne has always struck me as being kind of a dick.**

funny, he always seemed like a really cool guy to me for the past 30+ years i've followed his career, right up until today when i read about him suing THE HEADS for "cashing in" on their own band! my beautiful girl johnette needed that gig, dammit . . .

atanguay wrote:
**Another great list...**

thank wikipedia for that . . .

Lew wrote:
**Yes, this was some great info.**

again, we know who to thank for that, lew . . .

**And while I consider David Byrne to be an artistic genius, he does strike me as a dick (as Gail wrote). **

do guys often "strike you as a dick," lew? nevermind, TMI lol . . .

**Thanks for the post, Jill.**

again, THANK WIKIPEDIA, lew . . .

**Fave Heads Line: Pleasantly out of proportion...**

why am i not surprised?

violet wrote:
**Can we round up some names of artistic geniuses who aren't/weren't dicks? I'm having trouble thinking of any, but they must exist.**

just from my personal experience, i can say FOR SURE nik turner of hawkwind, ed wynne of ozric tentacles, larry coryell, spencer davis, stanley clarke, dave liebman, and many others . . . and i'm sure they've all had their bad days like all of us, but i spent enough time with each of them to know their general nature is NOT "dicky" . . . couldn't say that about shawn lane, for example, or mick taylor . . .

**Maybe it's something to do with being so loyal to your passion and vision that you don't give much room/thought to others. Your artistic output soars while your personal relationships don't work.**

sure, why not? works for me lol . . .

Jen Diggity wrote:
**More good music trivia!**

yeah, there's lots of it at wikipedia, where all of this came from . . .

vonskippy wrote:
**I'd say Laurie Anderson isn't a dick. Very cool, very interesting, and is just "one of the guys" to hang out with.**

i bet she is cool . . .

Lloyd wrote:
**@voilet: Coltrane quit heroin in 1957 and lived until 1967. Any other examples od his dickdom?**

now lloyd . . . violet did not give any "examples" of coltrane's "dickdom," she merely noted something very true, that heroin addicts are usually going to have emotional issues . . .

however, you have given a fine "example" of yours, lloyd . . .

DaveL wrote:
**Great trivia**

okay, i'm not going to say it again . . .

wiki wiki!! lol, couldn't help myself . . .

Liam Bradley wrote:
**Does anyone know what the true meaning behind the song "Mr Jones"?**


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Great trivia and there's no denying their talent and influence... but they've always had this vibe where I feel like I'm supposed to like them more than I really do.
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