Celebrating 35 Years of Talking Heads' Speaking in Tongues

Celebrating 35 Years of Talking Heads' Speaking in Tongues

Posted 31 May 2018

David Byrne, 1983 (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Getty Images)

June 1 marks the 35th anniversary of one of Talking Heads’ breakthrough albums. Speaking in Tongues which features the classic singles “This Must Be The Place” and “Burning Down The House”.

Neither single was a hit in Australia (“Burning Down the House” went Top Ten in the US and NZ), but then neither was the much loved “Once In A Life Time” from the 1980 album Remain In Light, which these days is probably seen as their landmark album. Indeed as far as Australia goes the genuine hits wouldn’t come until 1985 with singles like “Road To Nowhere”, “And She Was” and “Wild Wild Life”. 

But Speaking in Tongues was a commercial breakthrough for the band internationally, and certainly a significant step in their commercial ascent here. And the songs, especially those two singles, have become enduring classics.

While “Burning Down the House” suffered the indignity of appearing in the film Revenge of the Nerds (soundtracking a scene in which the dreaded jocks inadvertently set fire to their frat house)….


... “This Must Be The Place” has no such dubious connections, and the song’s simplicity (it was subtitled “(Naive Melody)”) has lent it a timeless quality that keeps people coming back to it. Indeed the song was covered a few times in recent years by major artists whose music is more synonymous with modern folk sounds, which suggests the strength of the song and its universal qualities.

Let’s have a look at the Talking Heads original film clips for “Burning Down The House”, together with those covers by the Lumineers, Arcade Fire and Iron & Wine with Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell. And you can check out Speaking In Tongues on Spotify here too.





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