Album: More Songs About Buildings and Food
. . .
When I first bought it, More Songs About Buildings and Food affected me differently from just about any album I’ve ever owned: I knew I enjoyed it, maybe even loved it, but I couldn’t figure it out, so I kept playing it for two reasons: to get to the bottom of it, and to differentiate the individual songs on it. The opening gallop of “Thank You For Sending me An Angel” and the closing chill-out of “Take Me to The River” and “The Big Country” were easy to wrap my head around, but all of the songs in between — with their tempo changes, weirdly funny lyrics, and spaced-out instrumental sections — were hard for me to distinguish for a long time.
At the time, I think I though part of it was because of the fairy dust that old sourpuss himself, Brian Eno, sprinkled all over the album, but thinking about it now, it was also that I wasn’t used to such a groove-oriented album where the guitars scratched and scraped against each other instead of clashed and clanged like I was used to.
But when I finally did figure them out, I naturally gravitated to “I’m Not In Love,” a on-the-spectrum three-act play that mostly balances erratic speedy grooves and dead-on stop-times, and opens with a solo guitar establishing a riff, and as Byrne yelps “Okay” the whole band explodes, everybody trying to outrun everybody else, especially Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison. After they establish it, Byrne comes in singing at full bore.
What is brand new? It’s not what I think of you
You’ll touch me in a minute, but that’s not what I want to do
And then the whole band stops on a dime, crashing together at regular intervals as Byrne gets too far inside his whole head.
We are two strangers, we might never have met
We can talk forever, I understand what you said
And, of course, it gets even worse on the chorus, during which the rest of band almost ceases to do anything but stand around while their lead singer sabotages the relationship he was just talking about.
But I’m not in love
What does it take to fall in love?
Do people really fall in love?
Of course, he could just be protesting too much, knowing that being in love just might take too much out him: all of that nasssssty alien emotion, which gets knocked out of him for a second by a brutal drum roll by Chris Frantz, leading to a second verse that’s easily as brutal as the first verse — at one point he asks “who needs to make a new start?” — but not nearly as brutal as the third verse:
Take it easy, baby, don’t let your feelings get in the way
I believe someday we’ll live in a world without love
I can answer your questions if you won’t twist what I say
Please respect my opinions, they will be respected some day
Which is then somehow topped by what seems like the most honest things David Byrne ever wrote:
But I don’t need love
There’ll come a day when we won’t need love
I believe that we don’t need love
And one last fantastic Frantz drumroll leads the band into a long jam featuring Tina Weymouth’s anchoring bass and some great guitar interplay between Jerry Harrison and David Byrne while Frantz keeps the whole thing locomotivating, until they drive it all home.
“I’m Not in Love” was one of their earliest songs, and if you check out the original version they recorded as demo for CBS, you can see how much it changed by the time they recorded it: the fast / stop-time dichotomy still exists, but the the fast part is way more twitchy than the funky jam that it eventually became. And the album version showed just how much they’d grown in the three years, as well.
“I’m Not in Love”
“I’m Not in Love (1975 CBS Demo)”
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