Former Talking Heads honcho David Byrne has propelled music in a progressive direction, similarly to how The Beatles operated at the height of their fame. Unsurprisingly, the singer is more inclined to the Fab Four’s avant-garde and experimental material, as his favourite song by the group confirms as much.
As a talent who has always triumphed originality above everything else, predictably, The Beatles have played a significant role in Byrne’s life since childhood. The band were one of his first entry points into music on his own terms, and they subconsciously changed his perspective on what a pop song needed to be.
In the book Rip It Up: Post Punk 1978-1984, Byrne reflected upon the origins of his relationship with music and namechecked John Cage, Karl Stockhausen and the Beatles as shaping his early taste in music.
Expanding on how those artists touched him, Byrne commented: “Everyone probably goes through the thing of realising there’s more than your parent’s music and Thomas the Tank Engine. That happened to me in the mid-to-late Sixties, a pretty open time musically.
“Not only was I hearing stuff that seemed directed towards me and my friends, but it was all over the map,” he continued. “Anything seemed possible. It seemed like you could make music out of anything, as long as it adhered to a vague pop structure. It was a wild sense of freedom. That’s what caught my attention”.
When The Beatles defied conventions, that’s when they excited Byrne the most, and he finds himself returning to their most experimental, psychedelic forays rather than the band’s poppier faction. Interestingly, Byrne also revealed they have many songs that he can’t bear listening to by the group as they’ve been incessantly overplayed.
“The problem with a lot of Beatles songs is that they get so heard that you can’t hear them,” Byrne revealed to Uncut in 2015. “I tend to go for the more psychedelic ones, I guess, like ‘I Am The Walrus’ or ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.
“My favourite is probably ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’,” he continued. “They really pushed what a pop song could be, but it’s still a pop song. You can put that up as a model.”
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is a step into John Lennon’s idea of utopia and a magical haven that he dreamt up. With a little help from his friends, he successfully captured his desired place of refuge on the kaleidoscopic track, which is bursting with illuminative colours.
Likewise, Byrne’s entire career has been built around making melodic pop with an unorthodox, alternative twist which made Talking Heads protrude from the beginning. While they were an entirely distinct group to The Beatles, who operated in another era, both shared the same pioneering DNA, which changed the journey of travel for popular music.