Here’s the second video of my series of “Deconstructed” songs, I hope this one will be more to your liking!
I just listened to your deconstruction of Once in a lifetime. Well done ! I always tell people how I hated the 80’s only to be surprized again and again that there’s so many great songs I definitely like… This is certainly one of them. Thanks for reminding me, and pointing out why this is a great song. I wonder how they performed this live with the technology of the early 80’s. Were they able to play the (complex) loop live? Any ideas?
Glad you liked it, Aef! From what I’ve seen they were doing it live with less layering, but still a big emphasis on the groove, see this for example (recorded in 1983)
Another cool analysis! I did like and appreciate the Talking Heads, though David Byrne’s vocals, especially on this one, can get a bit irritating - especially the verse “rap” element. He was considered a genius, so I really tried to like the music. Very interesting to hear how they made the sausage!
My favorite Talking Heads song was “Stay Up Late (Baby Baby)”, I even like his verse rap on that a lot. Great chorus. I’m guessing Tina Weymouth did dual vocals on the chorus, or a female vocalist at least. I think the song was about Tina’s baby.
My second would probably be “Take Me to the River”. It got too much radio airplay, so I kind of got sick of it, but when I really listened deeply I could understand the reverence. It may have been avant-garde at the time.
From the live video, it looks like they didn’t really include sequencers in that, but I’d guess the studio recording used MIDI sequencing and looping for part of the “groove”. MIDI technology was pretty new at that point, but innovative and especially “New Wave” bands picked right up on it.
Definitely a band that I didn’t much like at first but grew on me. This Must Be The Place was my favorite:
Oops! Sorry to side-track the thread Patrick. Heading over to your deconstruction now!
Yeah, “Stay Up Late” was cool. As to “Take Me to the River”, I like that it’s basically a slowed down rock ‘n’ roll standard progression applied to a kind of funky groove.
No problem, Mike, I know how it is here! I’ve never seen a thread stay on track ever!
Great stuff Patrick! This is one of my all time favorite songs, by one of my all time favorite artists. Been a massive Talking Heads fan since the beginning, when Psycho Killer blew my mind in high school. Also a devoted fan of David Byrne’s non-Heads work, starting with the Catherine Wheel (music for the Twyla Tharp ballet) and the groundbreaking Eno collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. I do a version of Take Me to the River myself, I medley it starting with CCR’s Born on the Bayou, and then morphing into TMTTR (they have mostly the same chords except for the bridge in TMTTR). I also play Heaven and Life During Wartime from Fear of Music…
For me, the Talking Heads film those clips come from, Stop Making Sense, is the best rock film of all time, even better than The Last Waltz IMO. Jonathan Demme did a masterful job, keeping the focus on the performers. I first saw that film in a movie theater right after it came out, while I was in grad school, and the entire place was on its feet jamming the whole time, as if we were at an actual concert. They’re one of the few artists I would most like to have seen live that I never did get to see (although I saw two performances of Byrne’s tour of his late-2000s Eno collab Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, which was EPIC).
Really cool observations here, and it was awesome to be able to hear the tracks separately like that. Where did you get the multitracks from? I especially enjoyed hearing the mangled vocal treatments there at the end of the “remove the water… carry the water” bit, I always wondered what the heck was going on there. I was also trying to pick out any hint of Adrian Belew’s guitar work-- he’s credited with being on the track, but I can’t identify anything that sounds like him (probably not too surprising given the density of the layering).
Well done sir!
Stop Making Sense is a great DVD. If you like David Byrne, you should read his book “How Music Works” where he explained the concept behind it (and many other things), it’s a great read!
In that weird bit in the vocals, they have used pitch shifting and delays, with tons of feedback, it’s a really fun part, I love it. No idea where Adrian Belew played though, or if he’s even playing in the final mix…
Thanks for reminding me about this! I remember reading a review of the book when it was first published, but it long ago fell off my mental radar screen. Will check it out pronto, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
Yes, I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s got great insights on the music biz, the story of Talking Heads and many other things.
Oh, I forgot, off the same album I really liked “And She Was” too! I don’t know the story behind it but I figured this had something to do with Tina too. Had kind of a “goddess” vibe to it or something. Maybe that was just me.
I was wondering about this too. Since you didn’t reply to Dave about it I’m thinking you’d rather not divulge the source … but if it just slipped past you please let us know.
These things are pretty easy to find on the internet… for better or for worse…
I’m usually defending copyrights, especially when it comes to indie music, so it might seem a bit contradictory that I would use copyrighted music, but on Youtube these videos are claimed by the labels/copyright owners anyway, so if they are monetized the money will go to them, not to me.
And anyway, I’ve already bought these songs on Vinyl or CD or downloads along the years, and I’ve seen others (like Rick Beato for example) use these same sources…
I won’t put the links here because I don’t want to endorse these kinds of site, but I can send that to you in PM if you want. I recommend using a good antivirus and ad/tracker blocker when you go there though
Ah, the “dark web”. I do think I have seen some of those tracks on YouTube. PM if you don’t mind, though I don’t know how much I’d use them except for curiosity or doing karaoke or guitar/bass with stems.
This is really shaping up to be a great series @ptalbot! The breakdowns you do are fantastic and it’s all done in an easy-to-follow order. I REALLY loved hearing the soloed tracks on this one. So many cool elements to this track that are far more complex than I ever gave them credit for.
Glad you liked that, man!
As I said before, I try to stay within a +/- 10 minutes format because the attention span of the average viewer is not that big, and I’m not going into too much details (also because I’m trying to reach beyond audio engineers, as my main target is really simple music lovers/curious), but each time I try to find interesting things to note and listen to in these songs… And I figured that having a simple structure/format will help people get used to the series…