Since they formed in the 1970s, as did I, it’s easy to see why I didn’t listen to their earliest stuff. I first heard them in the 1980s, and even then I was pretty late – I think the first time I heard “Burning Down the House” was in the movie Revenge of the Nerds.
After that, I’d catch bits and pieces on MTV – Notably, “Once in a Lifetime” was seeing heavy rotation. It just struck me as weird and I was nowhere near getting it. As such, they were just a band from the 1980s that I sort of filed away with the rest of my childhood detritus.
Then, probably about 10 years ago or so, I heard a snippet from “Life During Wartime.” The first thing I picked up on was the similarities between that chorus of “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around…” and, of all things, Sheryl Crow’s “All I Want to Do is Have Some Fun.” Thinking that a new band had come out with a cooler, more interesting riff on a song I frankly didn’t care for was intriguing…surprise surprise, I had it backwards. I listened to “Life During Wartime” about ten times in a row.
Having gone through the 1980s, and being able to contextualize Talking Heads, it all made a lot more sense (LOL zing) – they were really a perfect product of their time, but speaking as if their time had already passed. They were, I suppose…right?…about the culture, but it’s like they were speaking through a critical lens which wouldn’t even be available for another 20 years or so. Or, you know, maybe I’m not actually that smart. Either way, it’s almost as if Talking Heads were talking about themselves in the present in the past, and they did it accurately – it is / was, in hindsight, brilliant.