Album: More Songs About Buildings and Food
. . .
Very very few Talking Heads songs featuring David Byrne swearing, so the opening of “Found a Job,” which comes at the end of side one of More Songs About Buildings and Food, is extra startling, as he yells “Damn that television!” with the rest of the band starting right up with him as he continues: “what a bad picture!”
As he continues, you realize that he’s opening the song with a bit of dialog between a couple named Bob and Judy — her name possibly being a Ramones shout-out — as they air out what was a very common complaint in the the late 1970s.
“Damn that television, what a bad picture”
“Don’t get upset, it’s not a major disaster”
“There’s nothing on tonight,” he said, “I don’t know what’s the matter”
“Nothing’s ever on,” she said, “so I don’t know why you bother”
As he continues, you might or might not notice that his band is basically playing straight-up disco, tweaked only by yet another one of Tina Weymouth’s endlessly inventive basslines weaving in and out of the rhythm guitars, as Byrne continues:
We’ve heard this little scene, we’ve heard it many times
People fighting over little things and wasting precious time
They might be better off, I think, the way it seems to me
Making up their own shows, which might be better than TV
One of the things I love about “Found a Job,” is how Byrne conveniently ignores all of the process of how Bob and Judy actually go about finding their new jobs as TV writers and instead we have a time-jump. You know, just like a TV show might. Looking at you, Barry.
Judy’s in the bedroom, inventing situations
Bob is on the street today, scouting up locations
They’ve enlisted all their family
They’ve enlisted all their friends
It helped save their relationship
And made it work again
On the chorus, they let off on the disco rhythms a bit, as the guitars clang and clash against each other and Weymouth lays back. Chris Frantz doesn’t really change things up, of course, because everybody else does it for him.
Their show gets real high ratings, they think they have a hit
There might even be a spin-off, but they’re not sure ’bout that
If they ever watch TV again, it’d be too soon for them
Bob never yells about the picture now, he’s having too much fun
And of course, “Found a Job” plays wayyyyyyy differently now than it did forty-five years ago, when TV was still considered a vast wasteland with maybe a couple of great works of art and a handful of good ones, instead of an ever vaster one that somehow still has more great — or at least good — shows than any of us will ever be able to watch.
And in the end, David Byrne gives all of us a bit of career advice.
So think about this little scene, apply it to your life
If your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right
Just think of Bob and Judy, they’re happy as can be
Inventing situations, putting them on TV
Though I would add that if you can’t make a living doing exactly what you love, at least try and get a job that you like and let that subsidize doing the things you love, like, you know writing a blog about all of your favorite songs.
In the end, they ride out the disco rhythms with what sounds like either a synth melody or treated steel drums — or maybe both, though in the live clips below, Jerry Harrison is playing it on guitar, so what do I know? — until the fade, which is a strategy that a lot of More Songs About Buidings and Food employs.
Anyways, in a bit of weird timing, I’m writing this the day that the WGA is going out on strike for the first time in 15 years, and my assumption is that strike will still be going on when you read this. And even though I’ll never make a living writing anything, I’m still rooting for them, as it seems to be tougher out there for all writers of any stripe than it ever has.
“Found a Job”
“Found a Job” Live in NYC, 1978
“Found a Job” live in Los Angeles, 1984
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