Album: Stop Making Sense
Even though there was nearly a three-year gap between Remain in Light and Speaking in Tongues, it wasn’t because the members of Talking Heads were sitting on their hands: in that period, David Byrne released two solo projects: the My Life in The Bush of Ghosts album with old sourpuss himself, Brian Eno — which was mostly recorded prior to Remain in Light — and Byrne’s soundtrack for Twyla Tharp dance project, The Catherine Wheel.
None of these were, of course, as nearly high profile as the other Talking Heads spinoff, Chris Frantz & Tina Weymouth’s Tom Tom Club project, which spawned the #1 dance single “Genius of Love,” which also made it to #31 on the pop charts, and has been sampled over and over and over ever since.
In any event, the decision was made to show off some of this solo material in Stop Making Sense, with “Genius of Love” being a perfect chance for Byrne get a crowd-pleasing breather and “Big Business” and “What A Day That Was” from The Catherine Wheel representing Byrne’s solo material. “Big Business” is one of those that you might know depending on which version of Stop Making Sense you purchased or rented or downloaded or whatever, but “What A Day That Was” featured on the original vinyl — though, of course, truncated. Because of reasons, I guess.
But, of course, that was then, and “What A Day That Was” honestly didn’t register for a couple of decades, but now I love its forward momentum, its Alex Weir guitar noises and most especially the the fantastic backing vocals from Lynn Mabry and Edhah Holt, even though all they’re doing is “ohhhhhhhhhhhh” the whole time. But on the choruses, those backing vocals turn “What A Day It Was” into an anthem.
And on the first day, we had everything we could stand
Who could have asked for more?
And on the second day, there was nothing else left to do
Ooh, what a day that was
“What A Day That Was” also features a verse that’s like a fractal of David Byrne lyrics:
I said I, I’m dreaming of a city
It was my own invention
And I put the wheels in motion
A time for big decisions
There’s also the return of Byrne’s animal noises and a great coda, which goes like this:
We’re goin’ boom, boom, boom
And that’s the way we live
And in a great big room
And that’s the way we live
And Frantz crashing on “boom boom boom” without losing an ounce of momentum while Mabry & Holt add some great harmonies, you could probably wonder whether or not Byrne should have saved “What A Day It Was” for Speaking in Tongues, but then you realize that just having this version out in the world is even better.
“What a Day That Was (Los Angeles, 12-1983)”
David Byrne interviewed by David Letterman, 1984
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