Songs of Disco and Dictators

Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne on Imelda Marcos and the bubble of power

Though Byrne's friends have called the show insidious, he takes it as a compliment. It proves "how easily we're seduced," he says. "When there's a beautiful couple mouthing the right slogans, we go with it."

He also notes that several Marcos loyalists have attended. Some left midway through, but others stayed. "They saw what they wanted to see," says Byrne.

Though he embraces the ambivalence and coercion of Here Lies Love, with Eustis's prompting he added a closing section that acknowledges the People Power Revolution's nonviolent overthrow of the Marcos regime. Suddenly, the disco disappears. Lights and haze fade. Prerecorded thump cedes to live acoustic guitar, and you hear "God Draws Straight," an impossibly moving song assembled from the revolutionaries' oral testimony. "I weep every time I hear it," says Eustis.

Sylvia Plachy
Sylvia Plachy

Unfortunately for theatergoers, Byrne does not have another musical in mind. "I wish I did," he says.

But Here Lies Love will inform his next several albums. "I was given the liberty or permission to write from all these characters' points of view. I loved that. I've started writing to other musicians, saying, 'I've just stumbled on this great new way of writing songs.'"

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