Song of the Week- "Blind"

The band and their music

Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on February 28th, 2011, 3:19 am

Here's a new topic for this week- "Blind" from Talking Heads' last studio album, Naked.

I'm interested in the sound of this song, especially the groove at the end. What's going on with the rhythm, and is that "I Zimbra" in the guitar solo?

From a lyrical standpoint, I always wondered who is narrating this story? Who shot this alleged terrorist? And what's with the dogs? Here are the lyrics:

Hit it!
Signs
Signs are lost
Signs disappeared
Turn invisible
Got no sign
Somebody got busted
Got a face of stone
And a ghostwritten biography
Dogs start to rush in,
Hungry for some food
Dogs start a-twitching
And they're looking at you
It was light
By five
Torn all apart
All in the name of democracy
He's hurt
He's dying
They claimed he was a terrorist
Claimed to avert a catastrophe
Someone should'a told him
That the buck stops here
No one ever said
That he was involved with thieves
And they're blind, blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind
blind, blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind

No sense of harmony,
No sense of time,
Don't mention harmony, Say:
What is it? What is it? What is it?
Give a little shock, and he raises his hand
Somebody shouts out, says:
What is it? What is it? What is it?
He was shot down in the night!
Peopple ride by but his body's still alive
The girl in the window what has she
done?
She looks down at me ...
says: "I don't want to die!"

And they're blind, blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind
blind, blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind
Somebody could have told us where they go
Crawling all around looking for foot, foot, footprints
Now tell me what the Hell have we become?
Some dirty little bastards
What the Hell is going on?
No sense of harmony, No sense oftime,
Don't mention harmony, Say:
What is it? What is it? What is it?
Give a little shock, and he raises his hand
Somebody shouts out, says:
What is it? What is it? What is it?
He was shot down in the night!
People ride by but his body's still alive
The girl in the window what has she
done?
She looks down at me says: "I don't want to die!"

They're blind and they're blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind
blind, blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind
blind, blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind
blind, blind
blind, blind, blind, blind, blind

:breakdance:
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Buck's Student on February 28th, 2011, 10:00 pm

I can comment briefly on the music...

The turn back to African rhythms, while attaining some Latin influence as well, seems to be the band's cry for what they once were, but still moving forward. However, each instrument is doing something within certain confines, while Byrne's vocal is my main attraction to the song. He's attempting to blend the blues with these non-American styles, and does it quite well... Almost to the point where he's mixing the voodoo language of "Papa Legba" with even more primitive and modern African culture.

In a way, the band was doing what every white blues band attempted in the sixties, but I think they have a better grasp of African music than Eric Clapton had of the blues (For a guy who always cites Robert Johnson, who's recordings were only widely available in the early sixties, he's showing the naive qualities that most white people just don't understand about African American music. You have to dig deeper if you're going to play a genre).
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on March 1st, 2011, 3:44 am

s!mbells wrote:
My favorite lyrics from Blind:

"Now tell me what the Hell have we become?
Some dirty little bastards
What the Hell is going on?"


Great lyric and maybe the crux of the song. Incidents like this make one wonder about human nature. Who just drives by a guy bleeding out on the pavement in broad daylight, ("It was light by five"), raising his hand up for help ("gives a little shock as he raises his hand")? Maybe most of us would ("Now tell me what the Hell have we become?").

Maybe this is a leap too far, but the song reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Similar situation with a guy beaten and lying by the road. Several people, including a priest, walk by without helping, just leave him there to die. We have been this way for two thousand years, apparently!

I see the "what the Hell have we become" question as referring not only to how people act under modern pressures, but also to how we have evolved into as a species. Okay, the monkey on the album cover clued me in. The narrator, whoever this is, wants to be different than those "dirty little bastards," and expresses confusion at their behavior "what the Hell is going on?" Is he any better than they are? Who is he anyway?

Buck's Student- I would like to respond, but I don't understand. Please define naive.
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Buck's Student on March 1st, 2011, 4:37 am

I would like to point out that "most" does not mean "all." I did not want to offend anyone with that statement, if I did. ;)

"White people" was my generalization; the Blues comes from African-American musicians, but I don't think the genre has been innovated much since 1970. In that respect, you can say that the old African American musicians of ye olde don't really understand the blues anymore. It was once a statement, and now it's just something lazy old men do together. That's also a generalization, so forgive me.

But Clapton, and others, are naive to what they were doing - That's why the early Yardbird songs weren't very good compared to when Beck and Page were on board. Clapton, however, was an innovator in the genre! The John Mayall Beano album was the first really loud, distorted - guitar tone oriented album. Without it, there wouldn't have been a Hendrix, and countless others. The problem is, Clapton saw himself as a god at the time, and it was kind of a downward spiral for him. Cream and the Dominos are GREAT, but his solo career shows his lack of vision and music knowledge. He got into a rut, much like the rest of the blues community, where they stuck to the same formulas and licks. That's why I am not a huge Stevie Ray Vaughn fan - It was nothing new.

The Talking Heads were able to take a genre that had been around for years and make something new with it.
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on March 1st, 2011, 5:57 am

I'm not offended, just trying to understand. The chord structure and the rhythm are very different from the 12- bar stuff they call Kansas City blues. "Blind" to me sounds more like what I would call soul music, I guess.
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Buck's Student on March 1st, 2011, 9:17 pm

Aspiemom wrote:I'm not offended, just trying to understand. The chord structure and the rhythm are very different from the 12- bar stuff they call Kansas City blues. "Blind" to me sounds more like what I would call soul music, I guess.

I meant the vocal is bluesy, not the song structure.
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on March 2nd, 2011, 3:08 am

davidbyrne.com is playing Latin Rock III for its radio selection this month, and even includes some notes about the song styles. Listening. . . . .
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on March 2nd, 2011, 5:17 am

Yes, and I think he revels in the tension between the Latin and African music and his somewhat uptight delivery. He seems very interested in tensions caused by differences, man v woman, man v nature, north v south, and also by tensions between perception and reality "so civilized. I guess you wonder where you are." Whoops, wrong song. Must NOT drink and post! :drink:
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on March 3rd, 2011, 4:43 am

Canvas- nice choice of words to describe music by former art students.

"Home" for next week works for me. I was hoping for something from the "new" album.

Listening to the Latin Rock III mix, and being somewhat rhythm-impaired, I identified only two Latin rhythms so far. One is two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note; four of those sets makes a measure. This may (or may not) be part of the pattern called Cumbia. The second is the converse- it begins with the eighth note and follows with the two sixteenth notes, and sounds more exotic to me despite being barely different than the first. These patterns are used over and over! Maybe this helps for dancers know what to do? (Oh, it's a Cumbia; It has a good beat and I can dance to it! I give it a 93!) :breakdance: :breakdance:

Unfortunately, I find neither of these patterns in "Blind". But the 2 sixteenth note, eighth note rest pattern played on that wooden instrument (claves?) in "Blind" seems related. Some of the sixteenth notes I'm used to from rock/punk music are being skipped, which makes the music sound like this: :jumpyjumpy:
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on March 8th, 2011, 12:48 am

s!mbells wrote:Also his use of the word Blind - typical and cool DB inflections? Obviously not happy - a protest. Is this song based on an actual event or a combination of multiple events, or all of the above plus DB/TH creative manipulation of the lyrics? :?:


You have to admire DB's diction. Blind has six sounds in it. The "i" sound is a dipthong, a combination of "ah" and "ee," there's no other way to make a long "i" sound (try if you don't believe it). DB managed to sing "blind" over and over, occasionally dropping the terminal "nd," (but he's only human, I guess).

No idea if this has a factual basis or is entirely invented. I think a case can be made that the singer is the shooter: he's hanging around the scene of the crime, intimidating the witness at the window, laughing at the investigators who are "blind." It woudn't be the first introspective killer in a Talking Heads song! I'm not saying this interpretation is right, just that it might be interesting to listen with that idea in mind.
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Re: Song of the Week- "Blind"

Postby Aspiemom on March 8th, 2011, 3:41 pm

In my part of the U.S., we were taught about long vowel sounds (i prounounced "eye") and short vowel sounds (i pronounced ih), but it had no correlation to capital or lower case letters. Just another example of how difficult it can be to communicate. Glad you decoded my post!
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