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 Home is where I want to be
Home is where I want to be
1997 - David Byrne on David Byrne PDF Print E-mail
Written by Francey   
As an adolescent I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a scientist or an artist. Both fields held a na´ve fascination for me. (Later, I would discover both are manipulated by greater powers). I eventually opted for art school because [a] the graffiti in the halls was better and [b] I wouldn't have to go through at least four years of boring shit before I had the opportunity to do anything bordering on the creative.

I had been performing both solo, with a guitar or ukulele, & in rock bands throughout jr. high and high school. I'd perform at school dances and at local college coffee shops. My daddy helped me with primitive electronic effects and recording technology. I made tape collages and multi-tracked feedback pieces & a version of the Turtles' "Happy Together" using Tupperware tubs for drums. My passion for music stayed with me.

In college, I met students with different financial & cultural backgrounds, and I discovered that anything could be art and art could be anything. The Velvet Underground, James Brown, Yoko Ono, John Coltrane, Charlie Manson, Federco Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Ingmar Bergman, William Burrows, Andy Warhol, Vito Acconci, Dennis Oppenheim, Marcel Duchamp, Bruce Connor, ZAP Comics, The Hairy Who, Art & Language, Terry Riley, Superstudio, Norbert Weiner & Gregory Bateson, The Last Poets, Eldridge Cleaver, Robert Frank, Larry Clark, Tantric Art, Kool &The Gang, Luis Bu˝uel. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I dropped out, bummed around the country, stayed for a while in a hippie commune, formed a duo "Bizadi" with a friend who played the accordion (I played ukulele & violin--we did old standards) and made some "art" video tapes--people talking to the camera in various languages about American popular television programs and another piece consisted of shots of suburban tract homes overlayed with taped phone conversations of me and my friends talking to their parents.

Back in Rhode Island, I co-founded a musical group, "The Artistics" with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, who later joined me in New York where we re-named ourselves Talking Heads. At this time I was also making "Conceptual" art (questionnaires, quizzes & truisms, forged U.F.O "evidence," pieces documenting ephemeral drawings of the American states on an Etch-a-Sketch and taking Polaroid portraits of friends). I was working as a dishwasher or for Manpower in the daytime. Tired of shitwork, I tried to get back into school, figuring a degree would be my salvation, but I was advised instead to move to New York. It turned out to be the best advice I ever got.

I moved to NYC and slept on a friend's loft floor. I continued to write both art and songs, the latter of which were adapted by Talking Heads & became part of our early repertoire.

Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth moved to New York where we shared a loft & we began performing at CBGB's and other downtown spots. I continued making art for a while (writing a conceptual base for a Neilsen-type rating system for the arts) but soon the band & my day job took all my time. The band became successful, too.

I still do almost exactly the same things; write & perform music, direct videos & films and make "art" and photographs.

I am slowly overcoming the racism that was instilled in me by society.

I think rhythm can be a joyful, political, ecstatic & spiritual experience. Everybody instinctively knows this, feels this, but our "official" culture still treats it as inferior to melody and harmony.

I believe that anyone who goes into politics should be treated with suspicion.

I think it's OK that I don't understand everything that I've written.

DB 1997

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