Dipping back into the Far Out Magazine vault, we’re revisiting the moment Talking Heads frontman David Byrne delivered an emotional cover of David Bowie track ‘Heroes’ while armed with a choir of strangers. It’s the kind of performance that unifies all who see it and the kind of song that only David Bowie could have written.
Bowie has long been cited as a serial influencer on pop music as we know it today and, rightly, by David Byrne too. The Talking Heads frontman even inducted the Thin White Duke into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at the time describing Bowie as: “Both a shrink, a priest, a sex object and a prophet of doom, he was a kind of welcome to the brave new world, I’d like to thank him for what he did.”
“When David Bowie came along, rock and roll needed a shot in the arm, and when I first saw him it was a shock and very familiar, it was very necessary, it was something that was needed,” begun Byrne when inducting Bowie into the illustrious set of inductees at Rock Hall. It’s hard to argue with, before Bowie the subversion of pop music was a mere whisper and, after him, it was the only way to conduct oneself. It undoubtedly helped propel Byrne and Talking Heads to stardom too.
Fitting then that, given the opportunity, Byrne would pay such a tribute to the late singer, with this perfect homage to the artist and a reminder to us of Bowie’s ability to bring people together.
The event, a performance during the 2018 Under the Radar Festival, saw Bryne arrive as the special guest to Choir! Choir! Choir!’s concert. “I’ve sat mesmerised watching online videos of the Canadian group Choir! Choir! Choir!,” Bryne said prior to the show.
“They somehow manage to get hundreds of strangers to sing beautifully together… With almost no rehearsal—how do they do it? They manage to achieve lift-off—that feeling of surrender when groups sing together—when we all become part of something larger than ourselves.”
The choir, founded by Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman in 2011, is a community-led group which allows groups of strangers to come together and perform live. “There is a transcendent feeling in being subsumed and surrendering to a group,” Byrne said of the performance. “This applies to sports, military drills, dancing… and group singing. One becomes a part of something larger than oneself, and something in our makeup rewards us when that happens.
“We cling to our individuality, but we experience true ecstasy when we give it up. So, the reward experience is part of the show.”
See it, below.