Album: The Name of This Band is Talking Heads
. . .
I’m no expert on any of this, but it seems to me that this live version of Remain in Light’s “Houses in Motion” leads more in the direction of African music than say, the barn-burning “The Great Curve” or “Crosseyed and Painless.” I base this on two things: it’s a bit slower and darker, and Chris Frantz’s kickdrum-forward drum part.
Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t bring the funk: Bernie Worrell’s clavinet follows behind the beat like a stalker even as Buster Jones’ bass is leading the charge (if the video below is to be believed, she plays keyboards and sings on this one), making “Houses in Motion” an absolute strutting jam. With Belew & Harrison making spooky noises over that strut, Byrne begins.
For a long time I felt without style or grace
Wearing shoes with no socks in cold weather
I knew my heart was in the right place
I knew I’d be able to do these things
As ever, things get clearer on the chorus, as Byrne, Dolette McDonald & Tina Weymouth all sing the first two lines together.
I’m walking a line, I’m thinking about empty motion
I’m walking a line, just barely enough to be living
Then for the next four lines, McDonald & Weymouth call the first half, Byrne responds with second half.
(Get outta the way), no time to begin
(This isn’t the time), so nothing was done
(Not talking about), not many at all
(I’m turning around), no trouble at all
The pauses that David Byrne take here — especially the opening “no time to begin” — are utterly sublime, adding an extra layer of rhythm while also providing the hook. After that, everybody finishes the chorus together.
You notice there’s nothing around you, around you
I’m walking a line, divide and dissolve
And of course, Adrian Belew takes a couple of solos, the first one a flock of birds that are continuously circling the houses in motion, and and on the second one, the birds fly away, setting up a Busta Jones-led full band workout that ends whenever the hell it decides to.
“Houses in Motion (Cherry Hill 11-08-1980)”
“Houses in Motion” Live in Rome, 1980
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