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Match the song title: Stop Making Sense

It was the summer of 1986. I was working for my college's food services. I had gotten the key job of grilling hot dogs outside. It was just me and Kathy D., who would cash out customers, three times a week from 11 am.-2 p.m., serving up dogs under the sunshine.

I was interested in Kathy D., the way I was interested in any college girl who said two words to me. But Talking Heads concert movie fan, Jason S., was interested in her, too. While we were working, he would stop by just to yammer at her. He'd riff on lyrics from the "Stop Making Sense" movie. I hadn't seen the movie, but I had the album that went along with it (the cassette actually). I mentioned that, and Jason S. said, "you need to watch the movie."

I finally did and I'm glad I did. I've always been a music guy over being a movie guy. But this was a perfect blend of both.

It's considered one of the greatest concert movies of all-time and so groundbreaking that the 40th anniversary of the movie and album has been celebrated all year. The four members of the band have been doing the talk show circuit together, reminiscing about the album and their careers. And there's a tribute album out in which current artists sing Talking Heads songs (the only one I've heard is Paramore's Burning Down the House).
It's nice to see people recognize the Talking Heads now -- not just older people who remember the time but younger people who respect their influence.

So here is my little tribute to that album, called "Match the Song Title," where I match a card to each song on the record. I know some people think this exercise is weird and may not make sense, which means it's perfect for this album.

Here's the track list:

Qu'est-ce que c'est?
Match the Song Title: "Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads"

Track 1: Psycho Killer
(From Talking Heads, 1977)

The player nicknamed "Psycho" gets the honors of representing the first song on the album, which is a look into the inner-mind babblings of a "psycho killer," ... or David Byrne. Fa, fa, fa, fa, fa. Fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, fa.

Track 2: Swamp
(From Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

I have such a visceral reaction to 1980 Empire Strike Back cards. I collected nearly the entire first set in '80. I often wonder if they're worth pursuing again, based on my reaction to seeing this card and all of the others again after all these years. Probably will never do anything about it though.

Track 3: Slippery People
(From Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

This terrific 1954-55 Parkhurst hockey card gets to represent Track 3, which references certain sketchy folks in life. For the "slippery" part, you need to turn the card over to the back.

Rookie appearance of Jacques Plante! And terrific use of the old-school sports adjective "lamp-lighter"!

Track 4: Burning Down the House
(From Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

This Panini Prestige insert is good enough for the song about breaking the ties that bind. It's got the word "house," it's got flames. Hey, there are no cards about people committing arson (as far as I know).

(From Speaking in Tongues, 1983)

This 1966 Topps Monster Laffs card is my favorite card inclusion from this episode. The cards for this album is a nice mix of cards from my collection and odd items I don't have but would like to have. Seems appropriate for this band.

(From Remain in Light, 1980)

These retro insert tributes for past Topps sets with the bizarre "35th anniversary" designation seemingly will go on and on, at least for a few more years (I can't image collectors getting excited for an insert with the 1996 design). They are now numbingly expected, and pulling them, you can't help but hear the lyric in your head: "Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same AS IT EVER WAS."

(From David Byrne's solo album, The Catherine Wheel, 1981)

This is the least-familiar song on the album to me, as it's from a Byrne solo album that I haven't listened to ... yet. In baseball, "What a Day That Was" takes me back to the first big baseball moment that I could appreciate. That was when Mike Schmidt hit four home runs in a game against the Cubs in the first month of the 1976 season. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated for that and I read the story with fascination.

(From Fear of Music, 1979)

If you haven't seen video footage of this song's performance -- hard to believe as it has been reacted to up-and-down the social medias -- go watch it and try to sit still.

The lyrics for this song are dark, very specific and wonderfully accurate. Les Webber played almost his entire career for the Brooklyn Dodgers and during World War II. He was mostly a relief pitcher.

(From More Songs About Buildings And Food, 1978)

Talking Heads' version of "Take Me To The River" is the first version that I knew. Back when I was making my first mix tapes, it was one of the early songs I taped off the radio. The original version, by Al Green, from his 1974 album "Al Green Explores Your Mind," never made the Billboard charts. Talking Heads' version reached just No. 26. The chart's lack of respect for both versions is an injustice.

At that's where the needle comes off the record.

There are a lot of different versions of this album with different track listings and remasters and expanded editions. But I'm not familiar with those others, just what I first heard on that tape way back in 1984/1985.

Talking Heads still means something to me, not just in a nostalgic way. My daughter's boyfriend got into the Talking Heads a year or two ago, which is a bit of a switch from his hip-hop interests (but not really). We've been able to connect by talking about the band and isn't that cool?

Little did I know back when I was grilling hot dogs outside "The Bengal Burger" in 1986 that I'd still be discussing the band.


Excellent! I FINALLY watched Stop Making Sense in its entirety a couple years ago after seeing bits here and there over the years. I honestly don't know why it took me a lifetime. I love Talking Heads.
I love this series of blog posts. Thanks for this one!
Jordan said…
I caught it in theaters last year when A24 did their IMAX rerelease. Incredible. You could practically taste the flop sweat. What a film.

Because I came up in the Spotify generation, I usually listened to the full expanded soundtrack, which had stuff like Heaven and Making Flippy Floppy and Thank You for Sending Me an Angel and especially Crosseyed and Painless, which is one of the most ferocious album-enders of all time in my opinion. The record version does allow for a more concise listen, and post, though.

For the record, Paramore has the only good cover on that new album. Lot of 'good in concept' ones but none of them have a reason to exist. The Paramore one does. They really got it.
1984 Tigers said…
Night owl,

If you have an "encore" to this post, then perhaps find a card with a women swinging a bat. One of my faves from mid 80s college days was "And She Was" which seemed to be on the radio about every hour on the student radio station in Ann Arbor while I was a student at U of Mich. The story behind that song and the MTV video were epic.
aN ABDRE rISON CARD WOULD SUFFUCE FOR "bURNING DOWN THE HOUSE" (oops cap lock was on). He literally burned down his house in Atl with Lisa left eye inside (she escaped though albeit temporarily (she died in a plane crash shortly there after).
Doc Samson said…
Cool post, Mr. Owl. I’m always debating with myself if The Talking Heads were made for MTV or MTV was made for the Talking Heads.
Nick said…
At the risk of uttering musical heresy, I have to say I've never been a huge Talking Heads fan. But unlike most other bands I'm not huge on, I do understand their appeal. They've just never quite hit for me. (I freely admit that "Psycho Killer" is a great song, though.)
Bulldog said…
Great job. Burning down the house was my favorite.
1984 Tigers said…
Burning down the house started it's run up the charts in summer 1983. Unlike you night owl selling hot dogs one summer, I was in the "cold" business of driving an ice cream truck in metro Detroit. Cable was slow to make it into our city so had to catch that video on Friday Night Videos (anyone remember that show?).
Michael D said…
Great post! Love the way you mixed two of your passions; music and cards.
Jon said…
I'm completely out of touch with everything at this point, so I had no idea that all of this stuff surrounding the album was going on. I actually bought a second printing of this album just last year for $2, which I later learned was a fairly decent deal.
carlsonjok said…
Well done!

Not my burger. This post.
Fuji said…
Great job! I really like the Talking Heads. In fact a couple of years ago, I ended up buying an entire set of cards in order to get my hands on a card of theirs.
defgav said…
Love these posts. I'm generally not much of a audiophile snob, but Stop Making Sense helped me realized that just because a remastered recording sounds "cleaner", doesn't mean it sounds "better" (though the additional songs are appreciated).
Jafronius said…
Fun post! We like teasing our Talking Heads-loving friend by singing the parody song Psycho Chicken.