Friday, May 8, 2009

Talking Blue Head Brothers

It took me a while to get to this realization, but Talking Heads and the Blues Brothers share one remarkable similarity.

It all start with Nouvelle Vague, when I was watching this video of a live performance of "Dancing With Myself."

While persuing the comments, I found that CosmeticPlague104 had said,

Comment removed by author

Whoops...looks like I got there a bit too late. In essence, I recall that C.P. had noted that Nouvelle Vague takes songs that were classic in their original genres and recasts them in a different genre...and that's all they do, not writing any original songs of their own.

I replied:

While I respect your views, I have more admiration for someone who covers a song in a totally different style vs someone who covers a song to make it sound just like the original. This helps to answer the question - is a song a good song, or does it just benefit from a good arrangement? Nouvelle Vague's take on "This is Not a Love Song" proves that the song itself is good, whether or not Lydon is singing it.

Which led me to my Friday morning commute, when I happened to hear another remake on the radio - a little ditty called "Take Me To The River," remade by a band with the name Talking Heads.

But anyone who's followed the career of Talking Heads knows that the original version was only the FIRST version - the four-piece version that was only slightly funkified. In their live performances a few years later, the Heads unveiled the SECOND version of the song, in which the four-piece band had become a two level hierarchy, with the Heads still on top, but the body consisting of a ton of talented performers, both white and black.

And in essence, isn't that what the Blues Brothers did? While "Jake" and "Elwood" were supposedly the stars of the show, a lot of the talent was behind the guys in the hats, as they were baked by a ton of talented performers, both white and black.

Granted, there were other forces at work (Brian Eno in one case, Paul Shaffer in the other), and Belushi & Aykroyd's lack of professional musical experience led to a different band dynamic - John Belushi wasn't going to tell Steve Cropper how to play - but it is an interesting parallel nevertheless.

Blues Brothers:

Talking Heads:

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