Having reached #66 in this fairly regular series, my mind turned to songs with the word ‘road’ in the title. I would have considered ‘route’ if it wasn’t for the fact that I only have four songs on the hard drive with that particular word in the title…..(and I’ll wager a very decent bottle of wine that none of you out there could get all four at the first attempt).
My mind didn’t go into any sort of overdrive to come up with today’s offering:-
mp3: Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere
Road To Nowhere can boast of being the most successful 45 in the UK for Talking Heads, reaching #6 in October 1985. Indeed, it was the band’s first chart hit over here in four years, as every single released after Once In A Lifetime had stalled a fair distance outside the Top 40. The version on offer today is lifted from the vinyl copy of Little Creatures, the first Talking Heads album to go Top 10 in the UK, which it did on its first week of release in June 1985.
It’s probably no coincidence that Little Creatures was the first new material released by the band on the back of the previous year’s screening of Stop Making Sense, a genuinely ground-breaking concert film that did so much to bring Talking Heads to the attention of a wider audience than ever before, Equally, the fact that Road To Nowhere was supported by a fairly innovative and memorable promo video was also a factor in helping it achieve sales well beyond that of any previous single.
Here’s the thing. I’m not all that fond of it as a piece of music.
Sure, it’s catchy and does do that earworm thing anytime you hear it coming out of the radio on some sort of oldies station. But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a novelty song more than anything else and isn’t remotely representative of the band’s output elsewhere (see also, The Lovecats by The Cure). I’ve long been tickled by the notion that folk getting turned onto Talking Heads for the first time in 1985 going out and buying the back catalogue only to be completely bemused by what they were listening to.
The band were never the same after this period in their history, and there’s a great deal of bitterness about it all within the pages of Chris Frantz‘s autobiography, albeit it has to be said that his book is bitter throughout when it comes to most things to do with David Byrne.
Having said all that, giving Road to Nowhere a spin on a turntable for the first time in decades did allow me to pick up just how well it had been recorded, produced and engineered. Oh, and no matter that I’m not a huge fan of it, I’m a bit of a sucker for the way the accordion is used throughout.