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.



  1. Spot on with this analysis. This is the annoying Talking Heads era. For me, the interest pretty much peaks and ends with Remain In Light, which seems to be 1980. I love that album, although I only had it on tape for ages until I eventually came into money and picked up the LP (in Vinyl Villains on Elm Row, happily). Still pretty playable, although a bit scratchy in places.

  2. I thought that TVLKING HEVDS were headed for that great gig in the sky after “Remain In Light” and was shocked when they managed to reconvene in 1983. And though I was a big fan, here’s the thing…they really should have! Every album afterward was a huge disappointment. After the intensity of 1980 the watered down Funk and condescending Fake Americana that followed was a painful listen. Meanwhile, the best albums any of them did were the 1981 solo records! Those solo albums from Harrison, Byrne, and Tom Tom Club were where my interests lay post-1980.

  3. Nothing to add to the thoughts of JC, Chaval and PPM, except to voice my agreement and shared disappointment.

  4. This was my first TH album so it always has a place for me, And She Was is a good song, couple of others maybe but very mainstream in terms of sound and production. Agree about Road To Nowhere. It was the gateway though- I went back to the start and had my head blown off by the first 5 albums, More Songs, Fear Of Music and Remain In Light especially. Nothing comes close to those. Tom Tom Club hit the spot too lots of times.

  5. okay guantlet laid, worth a stab – 1. Escape Route – F/Rabbit, 2. The Blue Route – The Walkmen, 3. Route National 7 – Honeymoon Killers, 4 Pour La Route – Beirut. The last almost rhymes and as for the penultimate on that list, if you don’t have you really ought to rectify that.

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