Song of the Day #567: ‘Dance On Vaseline’ – David Byrne

David Byrne’s 1997 release Feelings was his best album since Rei Momo and stands as perhaps his best solo work to date.

After the more subdued David Byrne, he opened the creative floodgates on Feelings, blending his signature African and South American rhythms with synthesizers and hip-hop beats.

The result is one of his funkiest albums, and the first to my knowledge that spawned a club remix (of today’s SOTD).

In addition to blending more musical styles than ever, Byrne blended production teams… recording with different musicians and producers in locations all over the world. And yet the album feels very much like a unified work. Sitars sharing space with Cajun percussion, country and western sounds meshing with punk — somehow it’s all exactly right.

From the moment I heard it, ‘Dance On Vaseline’ was my favorite track on Feelings. It’s one of those songs that sets an unmistakable mood right up front and never relents. As with most David Byrne songs, I have no idea what these lyrics mean. But I imagine it must be very hard to dance on Vaseline, and I commend him for that ability.

I’m taking back the knowledge
I’m taking back the gentleness
I’m taking back the ritual
I’m giving in to sweetness

Come preacherman, shoot me with your poisoned arrow
But I dance on Vaseline
And I’m tripping out working on a revolution
You don’t let the music in

I’m taking back the children
I’m taking back the ceremony
I’m taking back my offerings
And I’m taking back what you mean to me

You’re dangerous, shoot me with your poisoned arrow
But I dance on Vaseline
And I’m slipping out I’m working on a revolution
Don’t let the music in

And war is all around us
Your Gods are dead and buried underground
I was a silly putty
Your big ideas are useless to me now

My baby saw the future
She doesn’t wanna live it anymore
Its lousy science-fiction
It’s on your skin and seeps into your bones

Come preacherman, shoot me with your poisoned arrow
I dance on Vaseline
And I’m tripping out working on a revolution
Don’t let day begin

And you’re dangerous, shoot me with your poisoned arrow
But I dance on Vaseline
And I’m slipping out working on a revolution
Don’t let the music in

It started in Oklahoma
You always think it happens somewhere else
This madness is attractive
Until the day it happens to yourself

And power might seem sexy
But check her in the cool grey light of dawn
A legislative body
And all at once your lust for her is gone

And I’m tripping out working on a revolution
Don’t let the day begin
We’ll turn you down time to time for evolution
Don’t let the music in

And I’m tripping out working on a revolution
Don’t let the day begin
We’ll turn you down, make a time for evolution
Don’t let the day begin


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One thought on “Song of the Day #567: ‘Dance On Vaseline’ – David Byrne

  1. Dana says:

    This one tilts a bit too much to the techno pop for my personal taste. If the rest of the album sounds like this, I suspect it would not rank among my favorites of Byrne’s work.

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