The Talking Heads are one of my all-time favorite bands. Their message and style spoke to me in a special way during my formative years. The lyrics, the sound, and the videos all combined to create a lasting effect on my future music listening tastes. And, I don’t feel as if the band was ever appreciated as much as they should have been during their heyday. Maybe it was that they were a little too punk…or post-punk…or new wave…or artzy for the masses. But, regardless, they were influential nonetheless.
It is interesting to note, though, that their *moderate* fame occurred during a time where videos were used to sell albums. The heyday for the Talking Heads was also the heyday for MTV (late 80s thru early 90s). And, surely the two things are linked. The message of the song becomes that much more powerful if/when it is accompanied by visuals. So, if not for video, the Talking Heads would have been just another band playing in CBGB in NYC…and, never listened to by the kids of middle America. Video made the Talking Heads famous.
It’s that way with lots of bands from that era actually. They were (more) famous because of their videos. If concert venues were what made bands famous in the 60s and 70s, then it was the power of TV that did it in the 80s and 90s.
(Although, demographically, the record companies enjoyed a ‘double bonus’ in the 80s and 90s. Boomers replaced their vinyl with Tapes and then CDs at the same time their GenX kids were also getting into spending money on music.)
And, surely, the much ballyhooed decline of album sales in the present decade could be attributed to the fact that MTV started showing reality TV marathons instead of song videos. Without the selling power of the videos, people weren’t convinced to buy new music. And, for me that logic holds true as well. It wasn’t until I saw the videos for the Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes on YouTube that I became a fan of their music.
But, back to the Talking Heads…
The lyrics of the song where I got the title for this post, Once In A Lifetime, are the type that mean something different for people depending on their current life stage. And, the video presents the song in a very stark and simple, yet effective manner. The video draws you in and holds your attention…
You may find yourself living in a shotgun SHELL
You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself; Well…How did I get here?
So, how do any of us get to where we are?
And, is it the same as it ever was?