Song of the Day #1,507: ‘Psycho Killer’ – Talking Heads

I’m back on my musical genome project this week, and I’ve arrived at my first aberration.

First, a few words about how I went about categorizing my tastes. I scanned my music library for artists whose entire discographies I own (or near enough to not make much difference) but discounted anybody who is only two or three albums into a career. Then I started scanning that list (of 35 artists) for similarities.

I wound up with the groupings I started exploring last week (‘Piano Men (And Women),’ ‘Country Plus,’ ‘Pure Pop,’ ‘Melancholy’ and ‘Folk Rock Derivatives’). Twenty-eight of my 35 selections fit rather neatly into one of those categories (some, as you’ll see, fit more than one).

But seven remained. I labelled that group the ‘Oddballs’ and will dig into each of them over the new few weeks. Some of the ‘Oddballs’ touch on one or more of my five categories but not consistently enough to be classified by them. Others barely fit into any of them.

Talking Heads is an example of the latter. This band, as well as David Byrne in his solo work, could be classified under ‘World Music’ or ‘Cerebral Punk,’ but those aren’t categories I listen to in general. Something about this band in particular put them on my radar in a big way despite their not sounding like anything else I like.

That’s a testament to their talent, but I wonder, in the grand scheme, if it hurts them in the rankings. It’s safe to say that I reach for Talking Heads and David Byrne CDs less often than I do the other music on this list, and my theory is it’s because they do fit into the ‘Oddball’ category.

I can’t seem to face up to the facts
I’m tense and nervous and I
Can’t relax
I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire
Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire

Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it.
You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything.
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.
Say something once, why say it again?

Psycho Killer,
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away

Ce que j’ai fais, ce soir la
Ce qu’elle a dit, ce soir la
Realisant mon espoir
Je me lance, vers la gloire … OK
We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they’re not polite

Psycho Killer,
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away
Psycho Killer,
Qu’est-ce que c’est
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away
oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh….

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4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,507: ‘Psycho Killer’ – Talking Heads

  1. Dana says:

    I think early Talking Heads, including this song and the album from which it came, would have been characterized as “punk” just as early Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson would. Yet in each case, the music evolved and expanded beyond punk, and even these early albums showed a proficiency in songwriting and musical influences from other genres that set them apart. So maybe it was punk “plus.”😊

    I far prefer the live version of today’s song and the other early Heads songs on their wonderful Stop Making Sense album, and I do pop on that record from time to time even today. Still, I know that if I were to put Talking Heads on to my pandora stations, I would likely not care for most of the music coming from that genome.

  2. Amy says:

    I don’t think that appreciation for a particular song should cause you to reconsider your general preferences. Quality is quality, and often we find ourselves appreciating something – book, film, song, play – that would typically not be our “cup of tea.” Not sure you should make a category to try to make all of those random examples come together.

    If you’re exploring your musical tastes, the “oddball” examples might prove more helpful in clarifying what you do and don’t like in music. For instance, the “oddball” category isn’t going to help Pandora, nor is it going to help someone who is looking to buy you a birthday present, but it might help you recognize that you truly hate the harmonica (again – for instance!) but for this particular song. …. I don’t know what I’m saying; I just don’t think these songs deserve their own (non) category in your project.

  3. Clay says:

    But these ‘oddballs’ aren’t songs, they are artists. I’m a big Talking Heads fan, despite the fact that they don’t fit easily into any of the other categories I’ve mentioned. I think that’s something for which I need to account.

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