DAVID BYRNE: MAKING LOTS OF SENSE
David Byrne is one of popular culture’s most dexterous inhabitants: composer, thinker, doer, producer, singer and songwriter, cycling advocate, filmmaker, speaker and writer among many other roles. Byrne hit the scene running with band and album Talking Heads: 77 and hasn’t stopped since.
In this edition of Kurated, he plays DJ in his David Byrne Radio guise which he’s been working at since 2014. (This is not to be confused with his recently launched monthly radio program for Sonos called Here Comes Everybody). Plus there are other numerous on-and-offline projects. A couple of those include the Reasons To Be Cheerful initiative and its new special project We Are Not Divided. All of these are available by free subscription
And, not to forget his smart and comprehensive manifesto How Music Works first published in 2012 and recently updated. The 382-page book is well-researched and written offering the author’s knowledgeable insights into the state of contemporary popular music.
Uncovered: October 2020 Show On David Byrne Radio
In the latest online broadcast of DB Radio, Byrne showcases cover versions of 48 songs by a range of diverse artists both famous and relatively unknown. I counted 8 songs new to me, but 22 artists I’ve never heard. Working with a broad palette of genres and styles, Byrne presents a coherent and engaging 3-hour set.
In His Own Words
Here’s Byrne’s brief introduction to Uncovered:
“There’s a difference between recording or performing a song not written by oneself, and doing a cover version. Sia wrote Diamonds for Rihanna – which is not considered a cover version – but if I recorded a version of Diamonds it would be seen as me covering Rihanna.
“So, most of the songs on this playlist are similarly well known and associated with a particular artist. These creative covers (as opposed to a wedding band cover) are done knowing that we – the listener, probably know the original version as a reference point. So the challenge is to bring something new to the table – to let us hear the song from a different angle, and maybe even give it a new meaning.
“Dolly Parton does Stairway to Heaven! I become aware of how close it is to a traditional English folk ballad, which is part of Dolly’s Appalachian roots. So actually not such a big stretch.
“Angelique Kidjo does Talking Heads Crosseyed and Painless, and brings the song back home to the Yoruba afro pop that inspired it.
“The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra does Jimi Hendrix’s Up From The Skies, and I suddenly hear that Hendrix wrote a swinging jazz tune.
“Fall Out Boy reveals Michael Jackson’s Beat It is actually an EMO anthem.
“Electronic artists Disclosure with Sam Smith on vocals reveal Hotline Bling to be a grandchild of Timmy Thomas’ minimalist Latin influenced hit Why Can’t We Live Together?.
“Many of these artists strip the arrangements down – to better reveal the underlying emotion in the lyrics and melody. Lianne La Havas does that to the Radiohead tune Weird Fishes. And then there’s A. G. Cook’s twisted, fractured, and skewed take on Sia’s Chandelier – which to my ears lays bare the struggle against addiction that I hear as the heart of the song.”
04 October 2020
After the Goldrush: Prelude
The Model: Ebony Steel Band
Glad To Be Unhappy: Onyx Collective
Stairway to Heaven: Dolly Parton
Anthem: Father John Misty
Weird Fishes: Lianne La Havas
Voodoo Child: Angelique Kidjo
Crosseyed and Painless: Angelique Kidjo
Jolene: Chiquis & Becky G
Jumpin’ Jack Flash: Ananda Shank
Up from the Skies: The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
Born To Be Wild: The Space Lady
Bad Romance: Lissie
Creep: Macy Gray
Otro Muerde el Polvo(Another One Bites the Dust): Los Miticos Del Ritmo
You Belong To Me: Carla Bruni
I Don’t Wanna Grow Up: Holly Cole
Cum on Feel the Noize: Bran Van 3000
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding): Caetano Veloso
Surabaya Johnny: Thiago Pethit
Dulces Suenos: Rita Indiana & Los Misterios
A Case Of You: James Blake
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction: [2009 Remaster] Devo
Hereos: Janelle Monae
Anyone Who Had A Heart: Shelby Lynne
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight: Mark Ronson & Raissa
Candy Says: Hot Chips
Crazy: Daniela Andrade
Children Of The Revolution: Kesha
Girls Just Want To Have Fun: Undressd
Billie Jean: Tyler Rich
Losing My Religion: (not listed)
Hotline Bling: Disclosure
Everybody Wants To Rule The World: Lorde
Beat It: Fall Out Boy
This Must Be The Place: Iron & Wine & Ben Bridwell
Shake It Off: Us The Duo
Superstar: Sonic Youth
#9 dream: Jose Gonzalez
Wish You Were Here: Sparklehorse
No Pares Hasta Tener lo Suficiente (Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough): Los Miticos Del Ritmo
Wake Up: Macy Gray
Chandelier: A.G Cook
White Ferrari: Frank Ocean