Talking Heads’ live concert film Stop Making Sense is one of the most iconic pieces of music filmography of all time and this clip of their performance of ‘This Must Be The Place’ is nothing short of sublime. It allows David Byrne to show off his emotional side, a side that he usually likes to keep close to his chest.
The filming of Stop Making Sense was over their four shows at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles which saw the band use the pioneering method of a 24-track digital sound recording. It resulted in sound quality which was streets ahead of the norm for the early 1980s, with the film being the first to be made entirely using digital audio techniques.
Jonathan Demme directed the film and the group were in the middle of touring their latest record Speaking in Tongues when their Hollywood residency took place in December 1983. The band didn’t want to compromise on their creative vision, therefore, raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves and surprisingly ended up with them raking in an incredible $5.1 million at the box office.
Their set saw them perform blistering renditions of their biggest hits such as ‘Psycho Killer‘, ‘Once In A Lifetime’, ‘Burning Down The House’ but their performance of ‘This Must Be The Place’ is one of the finest pieces of footage that exist of Talking Heads.
‘This Must Be The Place’ is an incredibly special song as David Byrne sings from the heart rather than from a more abstract place like most of his back catalogue. It’s a track that the unique artist has been on record as describing as “a very personal love song”.
In the ‘self-interview’ part that is an extra on the home release version of Stop Making Sense, Byrne divulged the following about the track that means more to him than most: “That’s a love song made up almost completely of non-sequiturs, phrases that may have a strong emotional resonance but don’t have any narrative qualities. It’s a real honest kind of love song.”
He continued: “I don’t think I’ve ever done a real love song before. Mine always had a sort of reservation or a twist. I tried to write one that wasn’t corny, that didn’t sound stupid or lame the way many do. I think I succeeded; I was pretty happy with that.”
David Byrne’s oversized suit that he wore for the filming has become just as famous as the film itself but the production quality on Stop Making Sense is a testament to the perfectionism that Talking Heads not only had in their music but in every minute detail of everything they did.
Watch Talking Heads rip through an electrifying rendition of ‘This Must Be The Place’ at the Pantages Theater, below.