naive-melody

This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
  • This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
  • Talking Heads
  • Speaking in Tongues
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Talking Heads - “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” (1983)

Sometimes I listen to a song and wish it was recorded in the modern day. How awesome would opening drum thumps of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” sound in hi-fi? Wouldn’t Elvis Costello’s hooks sound that much punchier with some studio wizardry?

When I first heard Talking Heads’ 1983 song “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody),” I was skeptical of the dated keyboard swirls; I had the vague notion that the song would sound better if the band had modern equipment at their disposal. Nobody today would touch the keyboard tones that pepper this song. I’d imagine that there’s gotta be a once-hip father out there who has tried to play this in the car, only to be met with something akin to “Daaad, this is so 80s!” before the radio is promptly turned on and the latest dance tracks fill the car, courtesy of the likes of Ke$ha.

It’s a shame, really, because the band really melded the keyboards, guitars, bass, and drums of this song into an unstoppable groove that could stand toe-to-toe with their modern-day pseudo-counterparts LCD Soundsystem. The mid-tempo rhythm is continually punctured by flourishes, each one more pleasant and more exciting than the last.

First there’s those keyboard lines, which seem to weave in and out of the song like dancers hidden among the stiffness of the rhythm section. Then there’s David Byrne’s voice, which is piercing and striking in a way that can evoke a million emotions at once. By the time he works his way through a few verses (singing beautifully endearing non-sequiturs the whole way through) his voice has risen out of the mix and ends the song with a climatic – almost angelic – “a-woooo.”

And all that comes without even discussing the lyrics. Articulating love sits nicely on the more difficult end of the spectrum of human action, but “This Must Be the Place” does it – over and over again. You could chop the lyrics up into single lines and couplets, drop them in a bag, and find that each one is strangely beautiful in its own way. When matched with the fervor in Bryne’s voice and that incredible groove, the lines come to life with a surprising level of emotion for a song that features repetition so strongly.

So, yes, this song sounds straight out of the early 80s, but it also packs more emotional punch than nearly any song I’ve heard in the years. Hell, you can even dance to it – pop/dance music with emotion being a bit of an anomaly these days – what more can you ask for? Newer keyboards? Nah, that’d just ruin it’s eternally vintage charm.

Off of their 1983 album, Speaking in Tongues.