singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
20 September 2019
(listening with headphones)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
Luxman P-1u
Sennheiser HD800

The first Talking Heads record I ever heard, I think, was this one. I was at school with someone whose Dad was cool enough to have True Stories and Naked, and one day, bunking off and hiding at his house, he played me this, from the former. I got him to tape me the album, right then and there.

Off the back of True Stories I went to Sheffield HMV to get more Talking Heads. My Dad waited in the car while I ran down Pinstone Street, and the only thing I could afford was a tape of More Songs about Buildings and Food. I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, because it was weird, but it became a very important album for me. It made me realise there was music that didn’t sound much like anything else I’d heard, and it made me understand that what you get out of art is proportional to what you put in.

True Stories doesn’t get much love. Remain in Light and Fear of Music, I suppose, cast a very long shadow. But I like it, and since I was sixteen, Wild Wild Life has been one of my favourite songs. I love its hooks, its tongue-in-cheek observations. I love that skipped beat before “sleeping on the interstate”. I love the rewind at the end. I love the way the guy lip-syncs “fur pajamas” in the video. I love saying “Check out Mister Businessman” whenever I get the chance. I never, ever tire of any of it.

Big question: “we wanna go…” what? I think, and hope, it’s “we wanna go where we normally go”, but I can’t be certain, and the internet does not support my hypothesis. I don’t care. That’s what I’m singing in my little head.

True Stories, remember, was a (underrated) film. And on the ‘b’ we get to briefly revisit Virgil’s Celebration of Specialness, and hear Louis Fyne and The Country Bachelors sing People Like Us. It’s nice. Everyone loves John Goodman, right?

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Hey!

I find drugs, people on drugs, people talking about drugs, people talking about being on drugs, in fact, pretty much anything to do with drugs, tedious.

“She” may or may not be tripping balls. She may be having some more innocent and fundamental form of transcendental experience. But whatever it is, she most definitely was.

The 7 seems to be a very slightly different mix to the song on the album, with a more pronounced guitar and some balls-tripping reverb on the vocal.

‘b’ is Perfect World, which is one of my least favourite tracks on the album, but it still sounds pretty damn good.

Rhythmically and texturally, True Stories and Little Creatures are plainer than the earlier albums, but they make up for it with beautiful simple tunes and affirmative sentiments. The clear openness of both And She Was and Perfect World are paralleled by the Rev Howard Finster sleeve art. Usually, as on Little Creatures he worked a lot of bible verse into his paintings, but this one says “Elvis at 3 years old in the land of the happy giants”. Make of it what you will, but I find it enigmatically happy, like the music it wraps. I also love how much Tina looks like Lady Penelope on the back. May your mansions be many Tina.

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The final in my three-records-for-a-fiver-including-postage bundle is a novelty hit from the mid ’80s, with a funny video where the little man runs in the corner. Remember it? LOL the ’80s? MTV. Roland Rat. Milli Vanilli. It was hilarious right?

Road to Nowhere is one of the most beautiful, profound and succinct meditations on the theme of life and death. It’s genius. I mean it.

A few weeks ago we talked about Once in a Lifetime, and life’s paradoxical calculus: the infinitesimal daily increments suddenly adding up to something. Time passing without us knowing it. Here, I think, we’re on the same subject, but it’s more pressing. Our lives aren’t just passing by: they’re passing, and they will end. It’s not even a “Road” to Nowhere for long; it’s a “ride”, and it’s a ride you can’t get off.

I know some people see Road to Nowhere as nihilistic or negative. Maybe it’s the fatalism, or, more likely, the “nowhere”. We’re broadly conditioned to reject the idea that what comes next is nothing. But if it is, we should be happy to accept that. The road may terminate at “nowhere”, but getting there might take us to all manner of incredible “somewheres”, and the company will be great.

We must try to accept the passing of time and the passing of everything, including ourselves. Life’s one truth is that it ends, and we must watch that happen to people around us. In the (wonderful) video Chris and Tina live a loving lifetime before our eyes, and it’s happy and sad and beautiful. Remember: “we’re on a road to paradise” and, given the stated end is “nowhere”, that means paradise must be one of the aforementioned “somewheres”. Right here, and ours for the taking.

I am going to die. I know that, and someone telling me so doesn’t make any difference to anything. But a reassurance that “it’s alright”, might. David Byrne doesn’t want you to waste time worrying that you’ll die: he wants you to accept that you will, and get on with living life for however long it lasts.

By celebrating and making peace with life’s finiteness, Road to Nowhere makes me more aware of being alive, and keener to embrace what I have right now. Because one day it will all be gone, and so will I.

A phenomenal piece of art.

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