Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is currently preparing himself for a second Broadway run of his lauded American Utopia series, throwing himself into the rigours of his work. Recently, Byrne appeared on the CBS Saturday Sessions, a show that was initially supposed to run in 2021, but they were forced to postpone certain dates when certain members of the organisation tested positive for Covid-19.
Byrne and band appeared on CBS to perform Talking Heads standard ‘Burning Down The House’ and ‘Marching Through The Wilderness’. The performances were known for changing the arrangements of the original tunes, pivoting the focus from the lethargic to more layered, stripped back arrangements that were raw, rollicking and daring. Spike Lee directed a cinematic release of American Utopia, which demonstrated Byrne’s penchant for surprise and shrill, soulful vocal renditions of his past metier. Talking Heads appeared in a Jonathan Demme directed feature entitled Stop Making Sense.
The singer-songwriter recognises that he can never truly escape the shadow of his 1980s outfit, considering how they shaped the industry, both as a musical and visual proposition. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the artist recognises the importance of development, both in careerist terms, and in his role as a person. “So I can understand that people who experienced that music at that point of their lives,” he said, “It was a very formative experience and it’s hard to find anything else that will live up to that. I realize that it’s not about me. It’s not about, ‘Can I write a song that’s as good as some Talking Heads song?’ I know I can.”
Byrne conceded that it doesn’t represent some “failing” on his part, but that it’s a reflection on the industry, which prioritises nostalgia over newness and novelty. The songwriter is determined to continue to fashion his work, feeling that it forms part of his songwriting continuum. The artist is determined to carry on with his work, feeling that it is as much a duty as it is a privilege to carry on with the trajectory that is as much life as it is a legacy.
See the performance, below.