January 6, 2021
Remain in Love is a book by Chris Frantz drummer for the band Talking Heads. The book is fairly interesting, but some times distasteful subjects are discussed that made me have to skip those parts. The book does not have very much information about David Byrne who came out with his own book in 2012 called How Music Works. My favorite parts are the references to other celebrities such as Patti Smith who snubbed him. One thing that bothers me as I listen to the audio book is sometimes Frantz reads the lyrics to entire songs that I already know by heart and so I have to skip ahead again. I was disappointed to find out that Frantz was responsible to the lyrics from Psycho Killer. It seemed like when they wrote the song they did not know what to write so David asked Tina to put some French in the song because she knew French. The song would have been better without the concept of a Psycho Killer. In past I have talked about how Aqualung has bad lyrics because each time one listens, one is reminded of a homeless old man and that is pretty depressing. Psycho Killer would have been a more popular song with normal lyrics for a rock or a pop song. I also found on Frantz wrote the lyrics for Warning Signs alone. Warning Signs is also about a serial killer who has killed a woman and he is talking about her glassy eyes and her open month. Frantz is too blame for ruining two very powerful songs. After meeting at Art School the three of them were living a loft in New York City when the building caught fire, but fortunately their possessions were not destroyed which I assume could have been their music notes or tapes. The book has information about the different concerts Talking Heads played, but not very much about the songs that were played. The trip they took to California which I believe was in 1977 was noteworthy in that David was arrested for Jay Walking and took the stage one hour late. Frantz either keep a diary or else he has a remarkable memory for details of their adventures. Frantz and Tina were eating and drinking their way around the world. I can understand wanting to get a full experience when traveling, but I feel a more health conscious approach would have be more suitable. Frantz suffered a heart attack this year.
The Tom Tom Club was a side band that Frantz and Tina Weymouth created without David. I really love the Tom Tom Club for three songs that they did. Genius of Love, Bamboo Town, and The Man with the 4way hips. But, it seemed like they were not able to come out with more hits to make the Tom Tom Club stronger after the demise of the Talking Heads. There are strange and annoying sound bites inserted in the song Genius of Love. Each time the song is listened to those parts become more irritating. The song was poorly planned. If they wanted those sound bites they should of released the original as the remix and made the original the straight song with the steady beat uninterrupted but for Tina’s sexy vocals. Considering the another song that has similar sound bites and one thinks immediately of Paid in Full the Cold Cut Remix from 1987. I don’t know why the samples and sound bites work in Paid in Full, but are only annoying on Genius of Love other then the bites are more carefully chosen and expertly inserted. These studio mix songs are like creating a recipe for a cake. You need the best ingredients to begin with and then you need to insert them correctly. The cake either works or it falls. People took Genius of Love and used just the bass line to play with Low Riders Cars. I recall people referring the Genius of Love as the Low Rider Song. Once again as in Psycho Killer gibberish foreign language is inserted. The cover art looks to be drawn by a mentally challenged child. All these little off putting touches were to make the music more artistic, but instead made the music worse. Refusing to “lower themselves” to write a good pop song that is not in some way “artistic” was a really bad decision. People like Genius of Love despite of these artistic touches that diminish the song’s integrity.
Updated: I decided to consider David Byrne book How Music Works. This is a better book overall then the Tom Tom Club Book. Byrne gives some information about how he wrote the songs that he did around the Stop Making Sense Movie. But he does not go into specific details about the songs in particular. So, that was a disappointment. He tired to make the lyrics and songs very random in nature. He used “happy accidents” in his creation. Parts of the book talk about what music means to people and how music is created. There is a lot of information about how new technology changed music forever. With the advent of recordings, music could be studied and analyzed. Music could contain tracks and studio recording are not possible to exist in real time. A singer can be his own back up vocalist by using tracks. The information is very useful to people who are making music at home and recording it using tracks. I am not making music, but many of the things that he explained were no surprise to me. These things were logically things that I already knew, but had never really considered. But a few of the things I was unaware of made me feel like I gained a deeper appreciation for music which is just like creating a painting. Byrne even has a song called “For Artist Only” about painting. When a person paints they start out with something and then add more design or more colors in layers which are similar to multiple music tracks. When Byrne discusses the music he made after Talking Heads with a Latin beat, he admits the audience did not appreciate it. Talking Heads has many great songs, but they did not age well. The creative nature of these songs with the nonsense lyrics keeps these songs from becoming great classics. The feeling that people get from hearing songs like “Making Flippy Floppy” causes one to wonder what the song means, but not that much. One may wonder what the song means, but at the same time the song clearly does not mean anything. Therefore the mind dismisses the song and forgets it because there is nothing memorable about these songs. The one exception is “Listening Wind” which is the story about a package bomber. This songs remains in people’s mind and generates conversations on the Internet. Yet, these songs will never be classics like the Beatles Songs due to their non-relatability.