More Songs About Treason And Pork: Here Are Eight Talking Heads Tracks That’d Also Work Great In Political-Campaign Ads


So yesterday former Talking Heads frontman and current omni-artistic silver fox David Byrne dropped a $1 million dollar lawsuit on Florida Governor and embattled Senatorial candidate Charlie Crist, who’d used the Heads’ 1985 romp “Road to Nowhere” in a campaign ad without asking. Byrne is in the right here, but let’s take a moment to congratulate Charlie on his excellent taste, which beats the hell outta John Cougar Mellencamp, and shows markedly less “actual meaning of song vs. politician-implied meaning of song” cluelessness than, say, the Reagan-era heralding of “Born in the U.S.A.”

Crist, a Republican lately turned Independent, apparently used “Road to Nowhere” in an attack ad lambasting his far more conservative opponent, the Tea Party-ish Marco Rubio, as leading Florida on the, well, you know. Problem is, “Nowhere” in the song actually sounds pretty attractive–“We’re on the road to paradise/Here we go/Here we go,” Byrne declares. Could be confusing. Crist should just pick a better Talking Heads song. Here are a few suggestions, for those across the political spectrum.

“Don’t Worry About the Government”

If this is indeed a Tea Party vs. Sane People thing, let Byrne make the case that a little federal oversight and financial support ain’t all bad: “Some civil servants are just like my loved ones/They work so hard and they try to be strong/I’m a lucky guy to live in my building/They own the buildings to help them along.” It ends with him repeatedly bleating, “I wouldn’t worry ’bout MEEEEE,” which is surprisingly convincing. Universal Health Care is not your enemy.

“Burning Down the House”

On the flip side, whoever’s running against Nancy Pelosi should just cue up some photos of Madame Speaker with that giant-ass hammer and let this one roll. Fightin’ fire with fire.

“The Girls Want to Be With the Girls”

Convincing argument for gender segregation. I assume this will somehow become an issue soon.

“Pulled Up”

By my bootstraps! No handouts! Except this song does consist of Byrne thanking, with increasingly manic intensity, someone who’d offered an amorphous helping hand, so this is all a matter of editing.

“The Big Country”

If this whole Red State vs. Blue State ever reaches the ultimate impasse, and us clueless big-city elites wish to permanently cut ties with the rubes in Flyover Country, you could do worse as an anthem than this wistful, country-ish lope, wherein Byrne regards simple, pure country folk from an airplane, expresses some measure of admiration (“Look at them eating! I GUESS IT TASTES REAL GOOOOOD!”), and leads a rousing of chorus of “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.”

“People Like Us”

1986’s True Stories–the film and the soundtrack–seems to largely concern Byrne’s attempt at rhapsodizing the very people he’d earlier refused payment to live among. (“City of Dreams” is particularly rousing.) But this here is a gay-marriage anthem in the making: “We don’t want freedom/We don’t want justice/We just want someone to love.” Sung in the movie by John Goodman, if that means anything to you.

“(Nothing But) Flowers”

This one could also go either way re: the radical environmental movement: It describes, in loving detail, the triumph of nature over capitalism (“This was a Pizza Hut/Now it’s all covered with daisies”), but seems profoundly dismayed (“Don’t leave me stranded here/I can’t get used to this lifestyle”). Whether it’s Utopia or Hell depends basically on how you feel about Dairy Queen.

“Psycho Killer”

No such ambiguity here. I mean, if we’re gonna sling some mud, let’s sling some fuckin’ mud.