David Byrne playlist

David Byrne playlist

Photo: David Byrne at Coachella, 2018

Short version

I created a playlist of David Byrne songs spanning his career and you can jump to the end if you’re not interested in my ramblings. I could talk endlessly about him.

Before 1983

At the beginning of 1983, I was listening to a steady diet of artists like this:

  • Hall and Oates
  • Human League
  • John Cougar
  • Chicago
  • Toto
  • Foreigner
  • The Cars
  • Men at Work
  • Journey
  • REO Speedwagon

Not that these bands are terrible or anything, but they have one thing in common: I haven’t intentionally listened to any of them since then. Except maybe for a walk down memory lane. Or in the case of some of them, a laugh.

During 1983

So, what happened in 1983? I started listening to this wonderful radio station in Chicago called WXRT. It was similar to KFOG in San Francisco where they were allowed some freedom to play what they wanted even unproven hits.

I was exposed to all this music I had never heard before. Different styles and artists unknown to me.

One day they played a song called Slippery People from a band called Talking Heads. Within the first 30 seconds I was captivated by the music and the unique voice of the person I later found out was David Byrne.

This changed my music tastes in about 4 minutes. I completely stopped listening to everything I listened to before. I started consuming every Talking Heads album and over the years found other bands on WXRT that broke the mold.

Enter lifelong obsession

At 12 years old, I embarked on a lifelong obsession with David Byrne. I’ve listened to every song, been to every concert I could possibly make. I saw my first show in 1989 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. In the last two years, I saw him at Red Rocks and at the Hudson Theatre on Broadway.

I’m not trying to say I’m his #1 fan or anything, but to have the same favorite musical artist year after year for 36 years is probably very uncommon!

David Byrne playlist

I’ve converted many people to David Byrne fans over the years, but in the age of streaming music, I always thought it’d be fun to come up with a playlist of his work.

This was much, much harder than I thought and I’m not exaggerating to say I’ve started it and given up many time over a decade. It was hard to decide what it should be:

  • Something to convert people to David Byrne
  • What I think are the best songs
  • A playlist that tries to represent his career

I eventually went with the 3rd choice. A playlist that spanned his career and tried to capture his the different styles. Then I think it could also serve the other two goals indirectly.

Statistics

I love statistics. So after I completed my playlist and was finally happy with it. I did some analysis on it.

Songs in my playlist20
David Byrne songs9
David Byrne covers of Talking Heads and other artists6
Talking Heads songs5
Live recordings8
Collaborations with Brian Eno6
Average date songs were recorded2008
Average date original songs were recorded, including covers1988
Last Talking Heads album1988
Number of albums in playlist11
David Byrne albums4
David Byrne collaborations3
Talking Heads3

I was pretty happy with this. I managed to create a playlist where half the songs are originally from the Talking Heads era and half from the David Byrne era.

My favorite songs are mostly from the David Byrne era, but Slippery People will always have a soft spot in my heart. It was the highlight of the Broadway show for me to see it performed with a 12 person band and 6 percussionists. Amazing stuff.

To get a taste of the Broadway show, watch this video from the Jimmy Fallon show recently.

Ok, the playlist

So, I’m going to list all the songs, but I also created a playlist for Spotify and Apple Music. If you’re not a subscriber of either, you can sign up for a free trial. Otherwise you’re stuck with 30 second previews.

NOTE: Apple Music doesn’t have the alternate version of ‘And She Was’ so I used the original album version

SongArtist(s)AlbumYearOriginal Year (if cover)
Strange OvertonesDavid Byrne/Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today2008
Road to Nowhere - LiveDavid ByrneAmerican Utopia on Broadway20191985
Life is LongDavid Byrne/Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today2008
(Nothing But) FlowersTalking HeadsNaked1988
One Fine DayDavid Byrne/Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today2008
Heaven - LiveDavid ByrneAmerican Utopia on Broadway20191979
Miss AmericaDavid ByrneFeelings1997
Slippery People - LiveDavid ByrneAmerican Utopia on Broadway20191983
I Don't RememberDavid Byrne (cover of Peter Gabriel)And I’ll Scratch Yours20131980
Totally NudeTalking HeadsNaked1988
Never So BigDavid Byrne/Fatboy Slim/SiaHere Lies Love2010
And She Was - E.T. VersionTalking HeadsLittle Creatures1985
My Big NurseDavid Byrne/Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today2008
Blind - LiveDavid ByrneAmerican Utopia on Broadway20191988
Mea CulpaBrian Eno/David ByrneMy Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Burning Down the House - LiveDavid ByrneAmerican Utopia on Broadway20191983
Like Humans Do - LiveDavid ByrneLive From Austin, TX20072001
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)Talking HeadsSpeaking in Tongues1983
God's Child (Come Dance With Me) - LiveDavid ByrneLive From Austin, TX2007
Once in a LifetimeTalking HeadsRemain in Light1980


A friend forwarded this blog post to long time WXRT DJ Johnny Mars, who had some flattering words:

Wow, what a nice piece. I can understand his obsession. I was taken with them early on from the debut. When I lived in Texas I saw them from a front row seat when they toured the Fear of Music album at New Mexico State in Las Cruces in what amounted to a long lunchroom. Very kind words from your friend. Those were some heady times for the radio station. Feel lucky to have been a part of it.

Johnny Mars, DJ, WXRT