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 Home is where I want to be
Home is where I want to be
2003 - This Much I know PDF Print E-mail
Written by Clark Collins   

From: the Observer, Sept. 28, 2003

David Byrne, musician, 51, New York

When asked my profession for a visa, or whatever, I usually put 'musician', 'musician/artist', or 'photographer'. Something like that. It's pretty meaningless. I have a lot more fun with the tax forms where they ask you for your position. I put 'Boss'. Or 'Emperor for Life'.
I've also described myself as 'a smug pseudo-bohemian', which is tongue-in-cheek. But there are days when that's exactly what I am.

One thing that would have surprised me when I was younger is that sex can be better when you get older. The way that you get more comfortable or relaxed. I'd have thought it was downhill from 18.

I'm still a little bit shy, but much less so than I used to be. I used to be painfully shy. But my theory was that being a singer was the perfect job for a shy person because it compensated for my inability to communicate with other people.

If you're not a good cook, and I'm not, make an oven dish. They're easy. I recommend a codfish casserole.

What I took away from the whole Talking Heads experience was the idea that if you know the kinds of restrictions you have to work within - budgetary restrictions, or creative restrictions or whatever - that can be great, that can even be a spur to creativity. That old idea of, 'Oh, I don't want anybody telling me what to do', or 'I want my creative freedom' - that's bullshit. What you need is to be told clearly what the parameters are. Because, if you allow them to do anything, most people will just waffle about.

The surprising things about fame came after. I was shocked at how strongly people could get imprinted with one image of you. That you were the guy in the big suit, or whatever.

But there are lots of nice parts about periods of success, as you might expect. If you have an idea, people are much more willing to say, 'Well, yeah, let's give it a shot.'

I'm on cordial terms with the rest of Talking Heads, more or less. We've kind of got all these buffers: management or the record company guys, which is a good thing - so that old animosities, if they flare up, they're kind of kept in check.

I find that people are remarkably conservative about clothes. They don't regard them as a means of personal expression. I think it's seen more as a way to announce what tribe you belong to.

I regard myself as Scottish, to some extent. Although my family and I left when I was really young, we'd go back for summer holidays in the 50s and 60s. The film for which I've just done the soundtrack, Young Adam, takes place there in the 50s, so I could kind of connect with it. But the production people on the film weren't able to make the town as black as it was then. I remember every building being covered in soot.

I still have a British passport. It's kind of a point of pride. Plus, there was no advantage to having an American passport. I could vote in America. The only election I wasn't supposed to vote in was the presidential one. But, as it turns out, they never double-check. So I could vote in that one as well.

I tend to be suspicious of anybody that goes into politics. Especially if somebody says, I'm doing this because I want to do something that's good for people.

Doing the music tours, I travel with a bike that folds up. It means I feel empowered. I'm not some stupid rock star stuck in a hotel room out by the freeway overpass. I can get out my bike and ride on that overpass!

I'm endlessly fascinated by the religious urge as it manifests itself all over the world. But I don't go to church or to a temple. Maybe that is odd. I think we're in a kind of crisis because we don't believe but we know something's missing. And replacing it with platitudes and values based on scientific logic or faith in capitalism is just hopeless. Those are not things to base values on.

I do envy those who have a more conventional lifestyle. Those fuckin' happy people! Why do they deserve to be happy? I have to devalue happiness because I haven't been able to achieve it so brainlessly and effortlessly as others appear to have. So I have to lower its commodity value and say that happiness is not all it's cracked up to be. But, actually, surprisingly, I think I am a happy person.

I used to be more angst-ridden. It's not drugs. Leonard Cohen, I think, said brain cells for depression are the ones that die out first. 


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