David Byrne On How The Beatles And Sixties Influenced Talking Heads

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Jody Rogac

The music of the Sixties and psychedelia had a profound effect on David Byrne.

“When did you become aware of the Sixties?” author Simon Reynolds asked Byrne in an interview for his book Rip It Up: Post Punk 1978-1984.

“Everyone probably goes through the thing of realizing there’s more than your parent’s music and Thomas the Tank Engine,” Byrne replied. “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, ” the former Talking Heads frontperson continued. “Anything seemed possible. It seemed like you could make music out of anything, as long as it adhered to a vague pop structure.”

Does this all not sound more than a little like the modus operandi of Talking Heads?

“It was a wild sense of freedom,” Byrne concluded. “That’s what caught my attention.”

Byrne then referenced John Cage, Karl Stockhausen and the Beatles as having informed his childhood musical experiments.

When later asked by Uncut magazine about his favorite Beatles songs Byrne replied: “I tend to go for the more psychedelic ones, like ‘I Am The Walrus’ or ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.”

You can read Simon Reynolds and Byrne’s full interview in Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews.




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