Sunday, 15 September 2013

Letting the days go by

One of my all-time favourite songs in any genre from any era is Talking Heads' neurotic classic Once In A Lifetime. Just over four minutes of existential confusion with a jerky, New Wave Afrobeat, Once In A Lifetime still sounds like nothing else on Earth, even after three decades. I can vividly remember this song blaring out from radios back in 1981  -  my own personal Year Zero for music
( as previously mentioned here )  -   and being captivated by its strange, hypnotic groove and David Byrne's disconnected, paranoid vocals. I went out and bought the single ( probably from Stroud's Trading Post record shop ), played it to death, and thought to myself that I should buy its parent album, Remain In Light...
Well, thirty-two years later I've finally got round to buying that album. Hardly an impulse purchase!  And it's as great a record as I've always heard it was. Collaborating with producer Brian Eno and a host of extra musicians, the core Talking Heads unit build up layers of beats and grooves, mixing NYC New Wave with funk and with African polyrhythms, before David Byrne adds his nervy monologues to the mix. It's fantastic stuff and was clearly way ahead of any of the band's contemporaries, with the possible exception of The Clash. I really should have allowed this masterpiece into my life years ago...
Even James, my Dubstep-loving son, likes Once In A Lifetime! He says he knows it from the closing credits of Bill Bailey's Tinselworm DVD. He's got good taste, that Bill Bailey. 
I thought I'd dig out my original single copy of the song but, after trawling through my 250+ singles, I realised I don't actually own it any more. I know I sold / traded a lot of vinyl back in the '90s ( mostly to fund my Silver Age comic-buying ) but I'd be surprised to think I sold such an old favourite. In the words of David Byrne "My God, what have I done...?"


I'll leave you with a slightly unusual version of the song by that old Punk, Kermit...
Same as it ever was? Not really...

2 comments:

Tomas said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Simon! A very unique sound, even to this day. David Byrne is a maverick! This must have been such a game-changer back in '81. One of my favourite songs ever is Road to Nowhere - it's one of those perfect songs that in my opinion can't be improved upon. Editors covered it once, but the renaissance of all things eighties with its synthy, analogue sound (which itself has lasted close to a decade) makes the original as relevant today as it was when it was released. And indeed, if it was released today, people would be losing their metaphorical you-know-what over it - and this can be easily applied to Once in a Lifetime, perhaps to an even greater extent. And you know you've nailed the music video when it gets a nod from Kermit!

cerebus660 said...

Actually, the Muppet video I was banging on about was for an LCD Soundsystem song. You probably got bored of me dribbling over the wonders of the Talking Heads and thought I was still talking about them :-)
Check out the link for the LCD Soundsystem song below: Muppets in Brighton!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj9Sv1JpmPs

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