Song of the Day #571: ‘Glass, Concrete & Stone’ – David Byrne

Took a little break over the weekend (hope you’re enjoying the Dylan series) but I have one loose end to tie up on the David Byrne front.

Three years after Look Into the Eyeball, Byrne returned with one of his strongest albums, 2004’s Grown Backwards. The album is ambitious and yet mostly low-key, favoring acoustic guitars and soft rhythm sections to the wild experimentation of previous albums.

Not that he doesn’t experiment… Byrne tackles two straight up arias, one in French and one in Italian, the former a duet with Rufus Wainwright. Hearing Byrne’s quirky whine wrapping around those melodies is both shocking and moving.

‘Glass, Concrete & Stone’ is the first song on Grown Backwards and for my money it’s one of the greatest opening tracks I’ve heard. It’s a slow builder, mixing a perky little drum part with what sounds like a cello and a xylophone before Byrne steps in with the hesitant first verse. This song is the sound of waking up, literally and figuratively.

[Note: Byrne released another album in 2008, a team-up with Brian Eno called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. I’m not including that in this theme week (and a day) because I don’t know the album well enough.]

I’m wakin’ at the crack of dawn
to send a little money home
from here to the moon
is risin’ like a discotheque
and now my bags are down and packed for traveling

Lookin’ at happiness
keepin’ my flavor fresh
nobody knows I guess
how far I’ll go, I know
so I’m leavin’ at Six O’ Clock
meet in a parkin’ lot
Harriet Hendershot
sunglasses on, she waits by this

Glass and concrete and stone
It is just a house, not a home.

Skin, that covers me from head to toe
except a couple tiny holes and openings
Where, the city’s blowin’ in and out
this is what it’s all about, delightfully

Everything’s possible
when you’re an animal
not inconceivable
How things can change, I know

So I’m puttin’ on aftershave
nothin’ is out of place
gonna be on my way
Try to pretend, it’s not only

Glass and concrete and stone
That it’s just a house, not a home.
And it’s glass and concrete and stone

It is just a house, not a home
And my head is fifty feet high
Let my body and soul be my guide


2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #571: ‘Glass, Concrete & Stone’ – David Byrne

  1. Amy says:

    After reading your intriguing take on this song, I’m more reluctant to confess how little I liked it (when listening before reading what you had to say about it).

    Still, when has that ever stopped me before? 🙂 Maybe I just don’t like waking up!

  2. Dana says:

    I like it, but I do like Byrne better when he’s a bit more funky than this.

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