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Music: Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime”

June 24th, 2007 · 2 Comments · Chicago, Culture, Journal, Music, Neo-Futurists, New Wave, Performance, Theater, Video

Time to haul out a real classic.

It’s hard to explain to someone who wasn’t around, and tuned in to the new music scene, just how electrifying this video was in the first few years of the 1980s, when you’d catch it on the scattershot music video shows that existed before MTV. I still think of it as one of the three best videos of the New Wave era.

Of course Toni Basil’s choreography deserves a lot of the credit for the impact of this video. It exemplifies the kind of spastic movements that were so much fun to disrupt a dance floor with back in the day, and it’s filled with the kind of memorably strange gestures and motions that get stuck in your mind’s eye.

I remember one of the first times I ever saw Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, just a few months after it opened in 1988, there was a piece in the show where someone (maybe Lisa Buscani?) mimicked David Byrne’s arm-chopping motion from this video, and it was such an iconic movement that the entire audience laughed in recognition. A very end-of-the-80s moment.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Malcolm

    My nephew was visiting once and I made a Talking Heads reference that he didn’t get. Made him listen to some (and he really didn’t want to). The next day he goes out to buy Stop Making Sense, then it became popular amongst his group in school.

    It’s good to introduce the next generation to the classics.

  • Ocelopotamus

    Yeah … and I think the corporatized stuff they hear on the radio is so unsatisfying that they’re really grateful when they discover good music. Of course it was kind of like that in the US in the late 70s, too — it’s just worse now.