TALKING HEADS: Remain In Light (LP, Sire SRK 6095 NP, 1980)

Talking Heads - Remain In Light

I have a strange relationship with Talking Heads. They’re one of those bands that I feel I should really like, because they – at least the context of endless name-dropping by music reviewers the world over – tick several of my ‘this is my kind of thing’ boxes:

  • ‘edgy’, slightly angular music
  • weirdness
  • art-school sensibilities
  • post-punk/new-wave era
  • pop music at heart

For some reason, though, today they don’t really click. You can perhaps see from the beaten-up sleeve of this record that it’s not been particularly well looked after. That’s not actually down to me, as I purchased it second-hand for around ten pence from a charity shop a couple of years back, but the fact represents something. I don’t care about the band enough to have purchased immaculate quality copies of their records; to be honest I doubt I would have spent more than a pound on this, even if it had been in much better shape than it is.

Why is this? Why doesn’t this band really do it for me? I fear that the reason might be bound up in impossible pretentiousness. Let me explain. I used to love Talking Heads when I was in my early teenage years. My dad was a big fan, and I became aware of a couple of their albums by osmosis, before finally taking the plunge and making cassette copies for myself. (Hey – taking the plunge in this case may well have been piracy, but no way would I have had the money to buy an actual record at the time…)

I was once in a school play (I forget which play – perhaps The Wizard of Oz, where I played the Wizard himself as well as ‘farmhand’, but that’s another story). During rehearsals and scene-painting chores I took in my Talking Heads cassette for us all to listen to. It didn’t go down well. People thought it was ‘weird’ music.

Maybe that’s the point? Back then, it was weird music, because my frame of reference was very slim. Nowadays, though, Talking Heads seem too normal to really get me going. Have I spoilt myself with years of increasingly obscure, increasingly bizarre music? Perhaps if I wasn’t now in a musical/mental place that sees me happily (nay, rabidly) buying a 3xCD box set featuring Rhys Chatham playing the same chord for three albums’ duration, I’d still retain a happy, open approach to my music appreciation?

Perhaps I have spoilt myself? To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think the solution is for me to continue listening to music, and accept the shifting tides of enjoyment that naturally occur. In a few years’ time, I may be waxing lyrical about the brilliance of this album, whilst wondering how the hell I used to listen to extreme noise music for enjoyment. Such is life. Such is music.

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