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Idol Chatter

David Byrne Talks Godhead

davidbyrnepicforic.jpgYou don’t think of former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne as an evangelist, except for those crazy Brazilian, African and Afro-Caribbean beats that practically broke poor drummer Chris Frantz’s wrists and led Byrne off to a solo career of promoting world music. If Byrne and his bandmates were attracted to Christian music and artwork (as in the cover art by Christian outsider artist Howard Finster for their 1986 album “Little Creatures”), it was part of their passion for Americana. A Gideon’s Bible was as interesting as a little-league ball field or an empty highway.

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So it’s surprising to hear, in an article by The New York Times’ Jon Pareles on Sunday, that Bryne and his bandmates turned British avant-garde rocker Brian Eno on to gospel music. More surprising is that behind the “folk-gospel sound” of Byrne’s new album, his second collaboration with Eno, is a bit of Bryne’s spiritual self. Though a sense of faith is hinted at in later T-Heads albums, I’ve never heard Byrne explicitly address religion or utter a spiritual thought.
Asked about spirituality in his music, Bryne told Pareles, “I’m always thinking about it, but not overtly. That might frighten me. Probably like a lot of people, I feel alienated from the traditional models that were presented to me as a child and eventually I left those and said ‘That doesn’t seem relevant to me.’ But like a lot of people, I have some longing for transcending those things in some way shape or form.”
Okay, so his take is pretty standard Boomer religious-not-spiritual. But for fans, it’s new ground all the same.

  • Justin Anthony Knapp

    I think you mean “spiritual-not-religious.” Byrne has shown an interest in spiritual matters before, but he does write about more mundane or exotic things than he does big things like God or love songs. If you haven’t heard this new album, you should; it’s streaming free at http://everythingthathappens.com/
    -JAK

  • Julianjulio

    Well, for me David Byrne’s lyrics and sense of FReedom-Individuation always inevitably leads to Spirituality, ie.e that which is really Real, the Ground of Being: I felt ‘Fear of music’ investigated, amongst other things, childhood traumas, and how they DEEPLY affect one’s Subconscicous, and experience – unless they are cleared out. In ‘Memories Can’t Wait’, this seems explicit.
    And ‘Remain in Light’ seemed to me to be about Experiential Beingness, in the moment (I hope it doesn’t sound exotic/pretentious, it’s not t all, but there are so few words for it!); that’s what I got very definitely, in 1988, when i was going through my own similar journeys.

    Unlike Brian (Eno) – who, liken so many of my friends, just decides that there is no mystical source, although his style and wholistic approach to life, music and art almost are it!, …Byrne has no atheistic intellectual conclusion, for although I am not talking of our ‘religion’s usual conception of God (as is said her, these models don’t quite fit so many of us), but the Real Spiritual Intelligence, that emerges from the Ground of BEing, Byrne seems to be interested in that, naturally.
    Because of his interests, I knew Byrne would be aware/interested in this, but also, that – because of his brave explorations, -which is also suggested by that Howard Fister Message with the painting on Little Creatures’, believe he experienced them to the extent that they are kinda part of his life ever since!

    Am I wrong? I just think anyone who bravely explores Being in an Intelligent, aware but not exclusively rational way, will Come across what is True and real about SPirituality.

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