Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense
Feb 6, 2020 (updated Feb 7, 2020)
98
December 14, 1983. Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Los Angeles.

Bundled in a vastly open chamber, there stood darkness. Overlooking the darkness, an ominously dimmed performance stage. Patently unoccupied, not a single soul in sight. Lurking in the darkness: a quiescent crowd, the walls of the enclosure manifestly echoing their soft chatter all around. Concealed in a crowd of thousands, possessing a filming camera, hovering within a gloomy space, Jonathan Demme was a man ready for action. Chucking down a cup of coffee, in hopes that the molecules of caffeine could enshroud his exhaustion, he prepped all the necessary equipment. He'd anticipated, catching a glimpse of a spectacle, an extraterrestrial oddity fabricated by the inventive minds of mankind itself. Unlike many other observers, Demme was very well aware of the repercussions. He'd been conscious that his prevalent exhausted condition was no regular 9-5 work hour shift fallout. There, he felt an unprecedented "high", an irregular boost of dopamine no manufactured drug can replicate. It was there he waited patiently to experience this phenomena once again. There he waited, for 'the moment'.

A vague silhouette resembling the headstand of a guitar is reflected onto the front of the stage, in sight of the audience. The volume of the room is augmented. Cheers and whistles expressed through the vocal cords of hungry fans, as the silhouette expands into a human figure. Demme's camera lays eyes upon the young man's rather matted, "I stepped on dog shit" sneakers and baggy leggings. He steps forth into the spotlight, the noise outputted from his squeaky sneakers increasing as with the crowd.

At last, he stops, his anxiously firm voice triumphs the uproar of the thousands of spectators. "Hi. I got a tape I want to play", he utters gently. Putting down the stereo and launching the tape, the smoothly energetic taps of his right foot, then his left, to the beat, rightfully sets the stage for the opening act, "Psycho Killer". Demme steadily pans the camera up, revealing his passionate, guitar-playing gestures, free-flowing like a steady mountain stream, then, at last, the apprehensive visage of the man, the one and only, David Byrne. There he whirled around in place, maniacally bobbing his head like a fitful pigeon, eyes wide-open in the resemblance of a bald eagle. Dressed in the odd uniform of a 50s professor undergoing a mid-life crisis, Byrne shapes his psyche into that of a serial killer, incongruously shrouded and camouflaged. Crosseyed and painless, the killer mutters along, swallows the mic, then finally sings...

"I can't seem to face up to the facts
I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax
I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire
Don't touch me, I'm a real live wire..."

Little did people know, little did Jonathan Demme even know, the footage that were to be taken that night and for the next few would emerge into the most widely-loved, renowned concert film of all time. Stop Making Sense was its name.

A film, a record, a director, a band passed down from generation to generation. Rare is it to uncover a culturally defining film...expression of art in general that is introduced so inauspiciously, yet hits all the essential benchmarks/criteria of an unrivaled, unconventional masterpiece. What was initially kickstarted by a rather vapid monologue ("Hi. I got a tape I want to play") would fluently transform into an outlandishly thorough fairy-tale-like odyssey, where everything comes to life. Bridging from ridiculously elongated suits, to divinely alluring guest vocalists, to head-scratching pendulum-swinging kneecaps, Stop Making Sense was, and is the show of a lifetime. Yet, in spite of its eccentrically arranged exhibits, one who is indulged in such an experience would not find themselves asking the obvious, common questions...

"Why stop making sense?
Why a movie?
Why a big suit?
Where do the odd movements come from?
What will the band do next?"

Courtesy of Talking Heads' unorthodox, freshly creative vision, and Jonathan Demme's masterful film direction, Stop Making Sense is a voyage that spans much further than the boundaries of music and film. This cinematic soundtrack, vitally a part of the final immersive experience as its own live recording, lives up to the authenticity of its fully-complete visual counterpart on just about every attribute.

Jonathan Demme recently passed away from natural causes. Though his many other ambitions as a film director never stood a chance or received nearly as much acclaim as the Stop Making Sense era, the legacy in which was casted down is everlasting. While time moves on and things change, here we, the oblivious audience, glance at the exuberance and beauty of Talking Heads and Stop Making Sense in its most natural form:

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

FAV TRACKS: Psycho Killer, Swamp, Slippery People, Burning Down The House, Once In A Lifetime, Girlfriend Is Better, Take Me To The River

LEAST FAV TRACKS: none
Inglume's Tags
4 Comments
Feb 7, 2020
one of the greatest live albums ever released, great review dawg
Feb 8, 2020
@notbuzzzila For sure one of the greatest. Thanks for the reply!
Feb 13, 2020
I agree
5d ago
Beautifully said. I just watched this, thanks for the suggestion!
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