Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: “Burning Down The House”
It's the BIGGEST hit of "Talking Heads" career...and it has a "Jersey Connection."
Kind Of. Keep reading.
The Talking Heads formed (as a quartet) in New York City...with David Byrne on guitar and lead vocals, Jerry Harrison on keyboards and guitar, Tina Weymouth on bass and Chris Frantz on drums.
Chris Frantz is a fan of Funk...and today's spotlight song was inspired by the crowd at a "P-Funk" (Parliament Funkadelic) concert in New York City.
Concert goers were demanding that the band "burn down the house!"
So, he and Tina Weymouth (his wife) created the music in a "jam," and then took the instrumental to the rest of the band for...further refinement.
While you're "grooving" to this (awesome) tune, listen to the words. Really....listen!
"It was once upon a place sometimes I listen to myself
Gonna come in first place
People on their way to work and baby what did you except
Gonna burst into flame"
They don't really make much sense, do they?
"Shakedown! Dreams walking in broad daylight
Three hun-dred six-ty five de-grees
Burning down the house"
There's a reason.
The band picked words that fit the rhythms.
Talking Heads swear that this is a common practice in the world of Funk music...where you don't want the words to get in the way of the...groove!
And, the groove was...righteous...as "Burning Down The House" cruised to #9 on the "Hot 100" chart in the fall of 1983.
This would be the band's only Top-10 hit.
The video got a LOT of airplay on MTV!
Talking Heads' biggest hit is featured in their 1984 concert film "Stop Making Sense."
"Burning Down The House" not only has a place in our music heritage...but is cemented in pop culture, as it has been used in TV and movies, including: "Gilmore Girls," "13 Going On 30," "6 Feet Under," and my fave..."Revenge Of The Nerds."
I saw this 80's classic for the first time, while I was earning my sheepskin at the University Of Wisconsin-Madison. I saw it in a lecture hall, screened by one of the on-campus film societies.
Walking home afterwards...to our dorm...we were singing the song (loudly) with the altered lyric: "Burning down the dorms!"
No...we didn't (burn down the dorms). And, yes (I graduated).
Back to the music video.
The small version of David Byrne is played by Max Illidge, who was 12 years old at the time. He would grow up to sing lead for a band called "40 Below Summer."
I promised you a Jersey connection: The house featured in the "Burning Down The House" video is in Union.
Above: Talking Heads performing "Burning Down The House" at the 2002 "Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame" ceremonies...as they were inducted into the Hall Of Fame.
Check this out:
As you probably know (by now), I love vinyl. Above is the Robert Rauschenberg limited edition album. 50,000 were pressed in clear vinyl...
...with three 12-inch circular transparent collages, one per primary color.
And, this copy is...pristine...unopened!