Filed Under (Acoustic Originals) by Jason on January-4-2011

Talking Heads might be my favorite group of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Relentlessly ambitious but never at the expense of writing tunes that appealed to a mass audience, David Byrne and company succeeded in so many styles that it sometimes becomes hard to keep track of it all. But once in a while, as in this version of their song “Heaven” from the legendary 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, the Heads’ most direct approach becomes the most affecting. Playing just an acoustic guitar and backed by bassist Tina Weymouth, Byrne delivers a soaring version of this fan favorite, which originally appeared on 1979’s Fear of Music (an album that’s pretty much a must-have, by the way, if only for this song and Life During Wartime, which may be the funkiest track ever committed to tape).

This guest article is courtesy of a talking head I know named Adam. His true identity must, for his safety and ours, remain shrouded in mystery.

Byrne is sometimes criticized for being overly academic and/or ironic with his lyrics, but regardless of whatever the hell he intends these words to mean exactly, the great harmonizing between him and Weymouth and the intensity with which he delivers this performance lays to rest, in my opinion at least, any qualms one could have with this song.

By the way, if you’re wondering why the stage crew was setting up during the end of this song, that’s because that was the way the band had planned this tour–each show began with Byrne solo playing an acoustic guitar, and gradually the rest of the players on the tour would appear, song by song. The entourage was large for this tour, with the band maxing out at about 10-11 musicians onstage at its largest, including several members of Parliament-Funkadelic, most notably that band’s keyboard wizard, Bernie Worrell.

In mp3, if you prefer:
“Heaven” by TALKING HEADS by oSvi

Reading: David Byrne’s Acoustic Performance of “Heaven”Tweet This: Send Page to Twitter

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Walter on January 9th, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

I like this track because of the instrumentation. I think it’s very rare you have just a guitar, and a bass guitar; outside of some of the country/bluegrass string bands. This track sounds really great with the two of them. Perhaps this odd instrumental marriage is one of the things the poster meant when they referred to the Talking Heads as “Relentlessly ambitious”.

A Fan on January 10th, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

This “Adam” fellow, whoever he is, really knows his stuff! Hats off to you, mystery man!

Joe on January 11th, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

Walter – I completely agree. Bass and drums are often thought of as a unit in rock, so you don’t see the guitar-bass pairing often. Which is a real shame – they can make a potent combination, as seen in this video. And this does seem like a good example of their “relentless ambition” – unusual, innovative, but still accessible.

Joe on January 11th, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

A Fan – Mystery Man Adam does indeed know his stuff. Hopefully he’ll respond to your fan-dom by becoming a more frequent contributor to The AV.

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