Apart from Adele, nobody has the four-quadrant appeal of Taylor Swift. She parlayed country stardom into pop superstardom and is now pretty a much a genre unto herself. David Byrne is an indie rock, New Wave and world music pioneer who has influenced scores of modern musicians. Note: For the purposes of this face-off, we are considering only Byrne’s solo work, and not Talking Heads.
Hmm, what are the odds? Eight days after the Random iTunes Fairy served up a track from David Byrne’s 1992 album Uh-Oh, she came right back to the same album.
‘Now I’m Your Mom’ is an odd song, either poking fun at or celebrating the transgender community. I think the lyrics lean toward a supportive stance but the falsetto reading of the title line feels like schoolyard taunting.
Twenty-five years ago, I listened to a shit ton of David Byrne and Talking Heads. The 1992 album, Uh-Oh, on which today’s Random SOTD appears, was in constant rotation. But I’ve probably listened to in only once or twice in the two-plus decades since.
It’s been ten years since David Byrne put out what I would consider a real David Byrne album. That was 2004’s Grown Backwards, which went off on a few tangents but was mostly the sort of tight, quirky, literate world pop album he’d released four other times since 1989.
Those five albums — the kind of David Byrne records I adore — are (chronologically) Rei Momo, Uh-Oh, David Byrne, Feeling and the aforementioned Grown Backwards.
He has released five since (not counting several albums he released in partnership with other artists) but that initial blend of his signature art pop with Caribbean and Latin rhythm tracks hasn’t been topped.
A year before Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints, Byrne mined similar musical territory with equally strong (if less celebrated) results.
And as much as I enjoy David Byrne’s work, both as a solo artist and as leader of Talking Heads, I just can’t make it through his work with Eno. This track runs six and a half minutes and I have yet to make it through three of them without turning it off.
I like his work as a producer (including memorable albums by U2, Talking Heads, Sinead O’Connor, Paul Simon and Coldplay) but the few times I’ve heard him step out from behind the boards he puts me to sleep.
Eno goes for that whole ambient soundscape thing and while I’m sure his version of it is deeper and more meaningful than most, it still reminds me of those stand-up CD stands you see at Target hawking titles like Tranquility and A Spring Morning.