Song of the Day #564: ‘Lie to Me’ – David Byrne

Through 563 songs I’ve managed to highlight only one David Byrne track and one Talking Heads track, which seems akin to a criminal act. I’ll do my best to make up for that oversight by dedicating a theme week (plus a bonus Monday) to David Byrne’s solo career. And a Talking Heads theme is definitely in the cards down the road.

Following the release of 1988′s Naked, the final Talking Heads album, David Byrne kicked off his solo career with Rei Momo in 1989. I remember picking this album up from a bargain bin on a whim, figuring it might contain some worthwhile music given Byrne’s great work with Talking Heads.

Based on the packaging, which made a big deal out of the particular musical style of each song (samba, meringue, samba, cumbia, etc.) I figured it would be heavy on instrumentation and light on memorable songs. What I got was a freaking masterpiece of Latin-influenced pop.

Three years after Paul Simon’s Graceland, Byrne had on his hands an album every bit as groundbreaking in terms of its blend of cultures and musical styles. But nobody was even listening (hence the bargain bin).

Rei Momo is pure pleasure from start to finish, the kind of album that makes you move and makes you think. Byrne’s quirky vocals blend beautifully with the complex Latin rhythms and it seems the infusion of new styles inspired him to write some of his very best songs.

I used one of those songs, a stately ballad called ‘I Know Sometimes a Man Is Wrong,’ as the soundtrack to a short film I made for my application to NYU film school. My sister and future brother-in-law gamely served as silent actors in five minutes of the most painfully amateurish nonsense ever committed to VHS. The song was good, though.

I’ve always liked ‘Lie to Me,’ a song about the bliss of ignorance. It is designated on the album as a meringue, though I have to be honest, I’ve never been able to tell the difference between the many styles represented. But they all sound great to me.

It’s a beautiful world and a beautiful dream
And you know I don’t care if things are not what they seem
Making up stories that you know aren’t true
But you know it’s all right ’cause I know it too

Who is the lady with the sno-cone eyes?
Who has the candy with the soft insides?
Talk show religion and soap opera love
Whatever happened to heavens above?

Well you can lie to me
And I imagine you do
If nothing’s right
What’s wrong?
That what I like about you
That what I like about you

Birds are flying from east to west
Dogs are running a political race
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I wonder who you are

Well you can lie to me
And I imagine you do
If nothing’s right
What’s wrong?
That’s what I like about you
That’s what I like about you

It’s a beautiful world and a beautiful dream
And you know I don’t care if things are not what they seem
I wanna be happy, I can’t stand the pain
I wanna believe, so tell me again

I’m like a chicken without a head
I’d like to fly, but I walk instead
Emotional junkies
How blind we must be
I’m just a fool for your Las Vegas tears

Well you can lie to me
And I imagine you do
If nothin’s right
What’s wrong?
That’s what I like about you
That’s what I like about you
That’s what I like about you
That’s what I like about you

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #564: ‘Lie to Me’ – David Byrne

  1. Dana says:

    I’m looking forward to this theme week, as Byrne is one of only a handful of artists I consider to be musical “geniusses.”

    I don’t have any recollection of your student film. Do you still have it? If so, I feel that must be posted ASAP:)

  2. Clay says:

    I’m not sure if I have the video anymore. Your work was exceptional, though. :-)

  3. Amy says:

    As I recall, it was very Wes Anderson, before Wes Anderson was even around to be known. The concept was there, even if you lacked the quality actors to help you bring your vision to life.

    As for the song, you have to love David Byrne.

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