Tunes Du Jour Presents Talking Heads

In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of popular music, few bands have left an indelible mark quite like Talking Heads. Hailing from the vibrant streets of New York City, this innovative quartet carved out a unique sonic identity that defied conventions and pushed the boundaries of what rock music could be.

Led by the charismatic and visionary David Byrne, Talking Heads burst onto the scene with a raw, eclectic sound that seamlessly blended elements of punk, funk, and global music. Their debut album, Talking Heads: 77, introduced listeners to a refreshingly different approach, with tracks like “Psycho Killer” showcasing their penchant for unconventional rhythms and lyrics.

As their popularity grew, Talking Heads continued to evolve, exploring new sonic territories and challenging traditional songwriting structures. Their collaborations with producer Brian Eno yielded groundbreaking albums like Remain in Light and Fear of Music, which incorporated African rhythms, experimental textures, and avant-garde sensibilities into their sound. The 1983 album Speaking in Tongues further cemented their status as musical innovators, with the hit single “Burning Down the House” becoming an instant classic.

But Talking Heads’ influence extended far beyond their musical output. Their live performances were nothing short of captivating, with Byrne’s iconic jerky dance moves and the band’s infectious energy captivating audiences worldwide. Their music videos, directed by acclaimed filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders, plus Toni Basil and David Byrne himself, were visual masterpieces that redefined the art form. Additionally, the band members’ creative pursuits outside of Talking Heads, such as Tom Tom Club’s funky explorations, showcased their versatility and dedication to pushing artistic boundaries.

Moreover, Talking Heads’ impact can be felt across genres and generations. Their unique blend of art-rock, funk, and world music paved the way for countless artists who followed, inspiring a new wave of musical experimentation and genre-blending. From alternative rock to electronic music, the band’s influence can be traced in the works of countless contemporary artists.

In a world where trends come and go, Talking Heads’ enduring legacy remains a testament to their artistic vision and unwavering dedication to pushing the boundaries of popular music. Their melodies and rhythms continue to resonate with listeners, serving as a reminder that true art transcends time and never grows old.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 9-20-23

The Avalanches’ Robbie Chater estimates there are around 3500 samples used on the group’s Since I Left You album. As someone who negotiates sample uses, I pity the poor soul who had to secure and track those licenses!

Robbie Chater celebrates a birthday today. Or maybe he doesn’t celebrate it. I don’t know. I don’t know him. Either way, I celebrate. Lots of cuts by The Avalanches on today’s playlist.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 7-31-23

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby by Fatboy Slim holds the Guinness World Record for the most significant number of samples used on a single album, with more than 60.

FatBoy Slim was born Quentin Cook on this date in 1963. A few of the classics from his You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby album are among the tunes in today’s playlist.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-15-20)

I’m surprised and saddened by the news of the passing of Jorge Santana. I got to work with Carlos Santana’s brother in 2018 on a reissue of his solo work, put out by Omnivore Recordings. I also worked on an anthology of his work with his band, Malo. Just last month Jorge and I were exchanging emails, discussing his new music and how California’s AB5 law will affect his ability to promote it. He was so nice and a pleasure to work with. He will be missed by many.

Today’s playlist is inspired by Jorge’s passing and by the May 15 birthdays of The Furious Five’s Melle Mel, P.M. Dawn’s Prince Be, Eddy Arnold, Mike Oldfield, Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, and Brian Eno.

Giorgio By Moroder

“What the hell is this, Giorgio?”

That is what Donna Summer asked Giorgio Moroder, the producer who brought her to international fame with the track “Love to Love You Baby,” upon hearing a song Moroder intended for her 1977 album I Remember Yesterday. The album’s concept was to combine modern sounds with sounds reminiscent of past musical eras. The title track opens the album with a 1920s feel, which is followed by a fifties throwback and a sixties throwback. The song that perplexed Donna was intended to signify the future.

The synthesizer-based futuristic track was the b-side of the album’s first single, a ballad entitled “Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over).” Releasing a ballad as the first single for the Disco Queen’s new album was a strange move. The song failed to make the pop charts, though it did the top twenty of the r&b chart, Summer’s first single to do so since “Love to Love You Baby.”

In some foreign markets, the synth track was the single’s A-side. It made noise, ultimately topping the charts in the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Australia, Italy, Belgium, and Austria. It reached #3 in Germany, where David Bowie was recording with produce Brian Eno. Bowie remembered Eno running into the studio with a copy of the song. Eno played it for Bowie, who recalled him saying “’This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.’ Which was more or less right.”

In the U.S. this B-side became the A-side, and reached #6 on the pop chart. Rolling Stone magazine included the track, entitled “I Feel Love,” on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.

Today, Giorgio Moroder, who has four Grammy Awards and three Academy Awards to his credit, turns 75 years old. He has a new album, Déjà Vu, featuring guest vocalists such as Britney Spears (on a cover of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”), Kylie Minogue, Sia, Kelis, and Charli XCX, due to be released this June. Here are twenty career highlights.

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50 Songs Named After Real People

Today is the birthday of two music icons – Jam-Master Jay of rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. and disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Besides their place in their history of rock and roll, both men have another thing in common – they were the subjects of songs. That inspired me to put together today’s playlist – songs named after real people.

I found fifty songs whose titles are actual people. Actually I found more than fifty, but I didn’t want to subject you to Chiddy Bang or Mac Miller. I made a few rules for myself:
1) The title can’t have words besides the person’s name, hence no Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.”
2) The title has to be the full name the person is known by, so no “Springsteen” by Eric Church or “Jessica” (about Jessica Simpson) by Adam Green. Allowed are “Galileo,” “Joan of Arc” and “King Tut,” as that is how most people identify Galileo Galilei, Joan d’Arc and Tutankhamun.
3) The song doesn’t have to be about the person after whom it is titled, so “Jack the Ripper” and “Rosa Parks” are in.
4) The track has to be on Spotify. This means I left out Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson” and Hoodie Allen’s “James Franco.”

Amazingly for a playlist based on such a goofy concept, it holds together quite well, if I say so myself.

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