August 03, 2004

Um, wow.

Talk about your surprising discoveries. In 1997, David Byrne turned in a strong set with Feelings, a surprisingly personal album. Of the songs, by far the most powerful was "Dance on Vaseline", a song about madness, power, and organized religion (maybe music too?). (Yes, even a personal David Byrne song is odd.) Its lyrics are solid, for the most part:
I’m taking back the knowledge

I’m taking back the gentleness
I’m taking back the ritual
I’m giving in to sweetness

Oh preacher man
Shoot me with your poison arrow
But I dance on Vaseline
I’m trippin’ out
Workin’ on a revolution
Gon’ let the music in


Started in Oklahoma
You always think it happens somewhere else
This madness is attractive
Until the day it happens to yourself

& Power might seem sexy
But check her in the cool grey light of dawn
A legislative body
And all at once your lust for her is gone
(Alright, that quotage was a little extreme, but I like the lyrics, dammit). Anyway, as far as I knew, it was a creative, original song.

But today I know better. See, I bought Diane the 1990 Jerry Harrison (for the uninitiated, Talking Heads' rhythm guitarist and keyboard player) album Walk On Water a few months ago, but after a few seconds of the first three tracks, we decided it was too painfully 80s to keep listening to. Today, though, I took it with me to work. I was listening to each track, one by one, and again remarking the 80s-ishness of them all (this guy is a cutting-edge producer?!). But then I got to "I Cry for Iran", the sort-of title track of the album. It sounded better, it sounded good. The lyrics were rather dumb and manipulative ("I cry for children / I cry for Iran"), but the tune was really...

Wait. That's Dance on Vaseline.

So I went and checked the date of Feelings and then posted this. I'm sure it was subconscious plagiarism on Byrne's part, but it's so egregious that Dance on Vaseline should have been credited (Music: Harrison; Lyrics: Byrne).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too painfully '80s? Give me a f'g break!

I'm so sick of hearing people dissing music because it sounds like something that is no longer fashionable within the circles in which they hang (even though, in many cases, they, themselves enjoyed it when it was current. Either it's good or it isn't. (And plenty of good tunage did come out of the 1980s—albeit mostly missed by the pop charts, as usual)

Either you like something, or you don't. "It's so last year" is not a valid reason. If it isn't good now, then it wasn't good then. If it was truly good then, then it's still good. (e.g. Zep, Zevon, Yes, Beatles, Bach, Mozart.)

I do agree that many of the tracks on Walk On Water are less than fantastic; but i also thought so back when i got it around 1995.

10:30 PM  

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