This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
Kexp: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #419: This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by The Talking Heads.
The Talking Heads were formed in the mid-1970s and enjoyed much success in the decade or so that followed. The group consisted of charismatic front man, David Byrne, along with Tina Weymouth (bass guitar), Jerry Harrison (lead guitar) and Chris Frantz (drums). Much is made of the fact that these four folks were Art School students. This is a thing because of the way they approached their music; often juxtaposing imagery into their lyrics that helped give deeper meaning to their songs. As well, The Talking Heads were well known for playing around with the lyrical structures of their songs, as well as, the timing of the beats they used. If I dare say, there was an intelligence at work that can be seen in the string of musical gems they produced during their prime. They had hits such as, “Burning Down the House”, “Girlfiriend is Better”, “Life During Wartime”, “Psycho Killer” and “Once in a Lifetime”. In fact, “Psycho Killer”, “Life During Wartime and “Once in a LIfetime” are all inducted into the Song Category of The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
“This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” is from one of their most popular albums called, “Speaking in Tongues”. David Byrne states that this song is a love song. It certainly will give you that feeling when you listen to it. But, Byrne claims to have not wanted to write a love song that sounded like any other love song being played on the radio at the time. So, he created a sort of “inside joke” by writing a love song composed entirely of non-sequiturs. A non-sequitur is a writing convention in which two sentences follow each other in ways that make no sense. For example, if you and I were talking and you started by saying, “Nice weather we’re having today” and I answered with, “Please hold my hand”, you would have non-sequiturs in action. So, the genius of this song is that the entire set of lyrics are comprised of line after line that make no sense in relation to the line that preceded it YET, the song makes sense, overall, AND, the song sounds like a love song, all at the same time.
“This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” is quite an enjoyable sounding song and quite the feat of linguistic dexterity. In addition to the lyrical gymnastics employed by Byrne, the (Naive Melody) part involves the opening few notes and tones that you hear before the first verse starts. Byrne wanted to de-construct the musical structure of what songs could be. In this case, he created an ultra simplistic ostinato, in which the guitar and bass repeat over the course of the entire song without change. So, in essence, The Talking Heads created a new version of how a hit song could be by writing non-sensical lyrics over a simple, repetitive musical structure but, yet, creating a song that sounds wonderful and will have you humming along and tapping your toes.
If your ever wanted to see The Talking Heads at the peak of their creative powers, they released a full-length concert film called, “Stop Making Sense” that was directed by famed Hollywood director, Jonathon Demme. The point of that title was, in fact, the philosophy of the band. They believed in not having to adhere to convention but rather, re-inventing the way Music had been played and, by doing so, creating something new and different that still sounded fresh and exciting and enjoyable. They weren’t an experimental band that produce ambient screeching and called it Art. The Talking Heads were innovative musicians and hitmakers who produced some of the most memorable songs of all time. *In fact, as I watch the video for this song and, in particular, the way Byrne interacts with the lamp, in combination with the non-sensical nature of the lyrics, I am reminded of Gord Downie (of Canada’s own, “The Tragically Hip”) and how he moved about the stage, often improvising but, always exiting and re-entering his original songs perfectly. So, please enjoy, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).
Enjoy your next meal. These are the times of our lives.
The link to the music video for This Must Be The Place by The Talking Heads can be found here.
The Talking Heads have an interesting website that you can check out by clicking on the link here.
Thanks to KEXP for supporting musical artists who create original works for our endless astonishment. A link to their website can be found here.