In a recent interview with Pitchfork, David Byrne has reflected on the songs and albums that have shaped his life and career, broken down to five-year increments with some incredibly insightful anecdotes thrown in for good measure.
The Talking Heads frontman took readers right back to his early childhood in 1950s Baltimore, recalling his parents’ fondness for American Folk music and the lasting impression their love for Woody Guthrie left on the up and coming songwriter, saying: "their songs had a political slant and a story to tell and a point of view. That was something to realize at a young age: that a song could do that."
A decade later, at the age of 15, Byrne discovered the Byrds, describing the Bob Dylan penned "Mr Tambourine Man" as a "psychedelic version of a Woody Guthrie song." Byrne also merited the track with inspiring him to leave the relative safety of his suburban upbringing, saying: If you’re someone who grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, the song is like a little telegraph from someplace else. Hearing that, I realized, ‘I have to get out of here, because there are people in other places. There’s a whole world out there that I don’t know anything about.'"
The Byrds | “Mr Tambourine Man”
Perhaps the highlight of the interview comes when Byrne recalls the impact of his first encounter with David Bowie – who would influence a young Byrne and later become a friend – during a trip to New York, before it was his home. "We’d heard about the Warhol scene at Max’s Kansas City, and so my friend and I went in there – with the full beard and everything – curious to see where the cool people were," Byrne recalled. "We were so out of place, and I remember David Bowie came in dressed in his full glam outfit, with the orange hair, the spacesuit, everything. And I just thought, ‘We don’t fit in here. We better go.'"
David Bowie | “Sound and Vision”
Further down the timeline, he also recalled the being inspired by Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy of albums and Brian Eno’s production which was all over the radio as Byrne spent his days working his pre-Talking Heads days working as a "stat man" while plotting his future creative career.
Talking Heads | "Psycho Killer"
In an almost offhand second thought, he also shared a memory about his formative years as New York newcomer, living in Rhode Island around the age of 20, he casually remembered penning a new wave anthem, saying, "I wrote a couple of songs that stuck during that period, including ‘Psycho Killer.'"
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