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article imageOp-Ed: What's on David Byrne's iPod?

By Tim Sandle     Dec 26, 2011 in Entertainment
David Byrne, former Talking Head, reveals some of the tracks that appear on his iPod. Don't expect things from the mainstream.
Knowing what a famous person is in to: where they go, what books they read, the music they listen to and so forth can either be fascinating and lead to a new discovery, or a tedious exercise where the banal discuss the banal.
In David Byrne's case they are likely to be something of interest, especially when the former Talking Heads front man discusses his current musical faves.
David Byrne was a founder member, lead singer and chief tunesmith for the innovative 'new wave' band Talking Heads who put out a string of innovative and challenging albums between 1977 and 1988. To select one song which typifies Talking Heads is difficult. Perhaps 'Once in a Lifetime', where Byrne takes on the persona of a manic preacher, or the post-apocalyptic 'Road to Nowhere'.
Since the demise of Talking Heads Byrne has achieved success as a solo artist, from rock and pop music, to Latin influenced music, to classical compositions and the more recent 'gospel' inspired pop collaboration with Brian Eno ("Everything That Happens Will Happen To Day"). In addition to music, Byrne has displayed conceptual artworks and 'curates' a record label which has championed unknown South American artists.
With that background the kind of music that Byrne listens to today is kind of interesting. For those wanting to know, the website Studio 360 has spoken with Byrne and picked out some of the album tracks from this playlist. These include:
Alabama Shakes, "Hold On" from the album Alabama Shakes EP
People Get Ready, "Uncanny" from the album People Get Ready EP
Lissie, "Pursuit of Happiness" (KiD CuDi cover) from the album Covered Up With Flowers
Bright Moments, "Travelers" from the forthcoming album Natives
Future Islands, "Balance" from the album On The Water
Fol Chen, "The New December" from the album Part II: the New December
David Lynch, "These Are My Friends" from the album Crazy Clown Time
James Blake, "We Might Feel Unsound" from the album Enough Thunder EP
So, quite an eclectic mix. Of the above, this writer is most familiar with the David Lynch record which fuses some quirky electronic to Lynch's expectedly weird vocals (but thoughts on the film director's debut album for another day). Running through the others, offering my thoughts, is ascending order...
James's Blake's track has a great vocal and with a disturbing background reverberation Balke's album reached the top 10 in the UK. Of the other tracks, Fol Chen provide an odd ambient track, which fuses some string instruments with electronic beats and whispering vocals. Future Island, the Maryland base sythpop group, serve up a track which has many layers and includes an accordion and works very well as a mid-tempo track. Probably good to drive to.
The Bright Moments track is taken from Byrne's former record label Luka Bop and is a brass heavy tack. A good piece of music to herald in the summer, but a little repetitive for sitting at home on a winter's day. Lissie is an American folk-rock artist who has enjoyed some success in the US. This was my least favorite of Byrne's selections. Perhaps in the context of the other music it was a bit, well, ordinary.
People Get Ready are a new band which have a liberal dose of the Fleet Foxes in their makeup. Nice harmonies, bit hard to decipher what the lead vocalist is saying (early Michael Stripe?). The final track is by the Alabama Shakes, who fuse old and modern country times together. The lead vocalist is a good singer who captures the 'swampy' feel of the US 'deep south' and I'm pulled into the world's of Carson McCullers.
And that's it. David Byrne has served up an interesting mix of music as one would expect from such an interesting artist. You may not like all of the songs, but if your music collection is looking a little staid that Byrne's picks might introduce one new band or musician into your own playlists.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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