Thursday, 19 May 2011

We are vain and we are blind. I hate people when they’re not polite

Quick Hit

“Psycho Killer”, Talking Heads (1977)

Something like one out of a thousand of us is a psychopath1 and one out of a hundred are sociopaths2. Yet most people just cannot understand this tragic, twisted condition. Society’s fascination with psycho killers is mostly a very basal fear of the unknown. A fear of the appalling, bizarre and generally very sad circumstance in life that could create such a person. Most of us watch from a distance – this could never happen to us, we think. We could never be related to someone like this. Or could we?

Their ’77 debut single “Psycho Killer” is a bit like the TV show “Dexter” – the world seen through the eyes of a serial killer. The world was fascinated, outraged and frightened by serial killers even in the seventies as the media now let us see more of what was happening in the world – whether we wanted to understand it, or not.

Like an episode of ‘Criminal Minds’, the famous FBI profiler Robert K. Ressler said of Ted Bundy, “"This guy was an animal," he wrote, "and it amazed me that the media seemed unable to understand that”.

The French lyrics in the middle of the song as a bridge are:

Ce que j'ai fait ce soir-là
Ce qu'elle a dit ce soir-là
Réalisant mon espoir
Je me lance vers la gloire... OK

 Which means:
What I did, that evening
What she said, that evening
Fulfilling my hope
Headlong I go for glory... OK

The serious Tina Weymouth pounds out the amazing and consistent bass back beat in TH songs. The always eccentric David Byrne sings whines and squeals out the lyrics with a demented look on his face. The song speeds up about half way through like a psycho killer losing control and killing faster, and faster.

 Talking Heads sound derived from the art school setting of Rhode Island School of Design that 3 of the members attended and had their first band “The Artistics”.  They were clearly influenced by punk and progressive rock as well. 

The first gig they played as the ‘Talking Heads’ was opening for the Ramones in 1975. Adding Jerry Harrison on guitar (formerly of The Modern Lovers), that was the solid line-up that made their way into the Rock and Roll hall of fame. 

Most prolific and popular in the 1978-1983 period, with multiple gold and platinum albums3 the Talking Heads have always had a strong cult-like following. The last serious commercial success was with “Little Creatures” in 1985. 

Byrne has had a reasonable solo career while Jerry Harrison has become a music producer of some note. Tina Weymouth married Chris Franz in 1977. They had some success in the early ‘80’s with the “Tom Tom Club”, the best known single being “The Genius of Love”. 

Other popular and excellent Talking Heads songs are: 'Take Me to the River', 'Life During Wartime', 'Once in a Lifetime', 'Burning Down the House', 'And She Was', and 'Road to Nowhere'. 

As they say in “Life in Wartime”:

"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain't got time for that now"

1)       Psychopath – a mentally ill or unstable person; especially : a person affected with antisocial personality disorder. Not all psychopaths are criminal or killers.
2)       Sociopath –  of, relating to, or characterized by asocial or antisocial behavior or exhibiting antisocial personality disorder
3)       Gold or Platinum album – from a system of certifying that a music recording has shipped or sold a certain number of copies. Gold being 500,000 and Platinum being 1 million copies.

No comments: