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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays Week 98 Stop Making Sense

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This was fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fafa-far better...

 

WE watched: 

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Stop letting the days go by and start discussing.

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One thing that I think is interesting is how big this concert seems. For the time, this was a pretty big stage show for the early 80s. Compared to a modern stage presentation for a commercially successful band, this is kind of quaint. It feels massive though. Maybe it's just the energy of the band and the close ups but this feels like a huge show.

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I think what makes it feel so large is how it starts out so intimately—just adding one band member at a time. It makes it all larger than life.

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Here's an almost entirely different live TH experience... I probably love it even more than Stop Making Sense. The camera is right on stage and the crowd is going wild and it feels rawer to me.

 

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15 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I think what makes it feel so large is how it starts out so intimately—just adding one band member at a time. It makes it all larger than life.

That impressed me.  For me that feeling of space started by seeing just how large the physical stage was before everything was added in.  Whenever I go to a concert I'm seeing the finished product so I have nothing to compare to.  Seeing how they filled up the space, but it was still small enough for David to run behind the band, was cool.  I like that they spread the band out side-to-side instead of front to back.  David jumping back over the middle of the stage to come out front again was neat.  The entire stage wasn't built to showcase the builders' skills, it was done to showcase the band.

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15 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Here's an almost entirely different live TH experience... I probably love it even more than Stop Making Sense. The camera is right on stage and the crowd is going wild and it feels rawer to me.

 

I was reading reviews and one thing made me scratch my head.  It needs a little set up.  Roger Ebert's review mentions how the cameras focused on the band since the audience reactions would be out of sync with what's on screen.  Another review mentions that the band only wanted actual concerts to be filmed, and not to do any studio work since the band would lose the audience energy.  It doesn't make sense to me. (I guess the band stopped making sense.)  The film works because it ignores the audience but the Talking Heads wanted the movie done this way because they wanted the audience to be there?

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11 minutes ago, Cinco DeNio said:

That impressed me.  For me that feeling of space started by seeing just how large the physical stage was before everything was added in.  Whenever I go to a concert I'm seeing the finished product so I have nothing to compare to.  Seeing how they filled up the space, but it was still small enough for David to run behind the band, was cool.  I like that they spread the band out side-to-side instead of front to back.  David jumping back over the middle of the stage to come out front again was neat.  The entire stage wasn't built to showcase the builders' skills, it was done to showcase the band.

I read on Wikipedia that on the soundtrack the songs are out of order so you don’t get that build up of adding another bad member on every song—which is a bizarre choice to me.

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6 minutes ago, Cinco DeNio said:

I was reading reviews and one thing made me scratch my head.  It needs a little set up.  Roger Ebert's review mentions how the cameras focused on the band since the audience reactions would be out of sync with what's on screen.  Another review mentions that the band only wanted actual concerts to be filmed, and not to do any studio work since the band would lose the audience energy.  It doesn't make sense to me. (I guess the band stopped making sense.)  The film works because it ignores the audience but the Talking Heads wanted the movie done this way because they wanted the audience to be there?

I don't think those two things are incompatible, are they?

1. Audience reactions can be out-of-sync to what's on screen (granted, I don't know if this is true)
2. Having an audience helps lift a band's performance

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Overall I admit this isn't the movie for me. I made it less than an hour (maybe even before Burning Down the House) the first time.  Last night I watched it again from just after Psycho Killer onward and stopped at an hour, a song or so after the Tom Tom Club song.  (I vaguely remember The Tom Tom Club on the 80's radio but not the song they sang in the movie.)  I do appreciate the lyrics being "grounded", by that I mean, they jump all over but still tell a story.  I have never understood how Bono can write songs that sounds like a random phrase generator wrote them.  Having the subtitles really helped a lot in letting me enjoy the songs.

Carnival, the wheels fly and the colours spin through alcohol.
Red wine that punctures the skin.
Face to face in a dry and waterless place.

(From the song The Unforgettable Fire)

https://www.u2.com/music/lyrics/144

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5 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I read on Wikipedia that on the soundtrack the songs are out of order so you don’t get that build up of adding another bad member on every song—which is a bizarre choice to me.

I don't understand that either.  I was also curious about "consistency" (whatever the movie term is to make sure things are the same on each new take).  At one point early on Tina Weymouth loses her long pants (shortly after Slippery People - where everyone jogs on stage).  I thought it was an odd costume choice then I'm like "Duh.  They filmed four concerts.  People aren't going to wear the exact same outfits every night." but the pants stayed off for the rest of the time that I watched.  It also seemed like she was wearing some sort of patterned leggings.  I saw shadows but then some shadows moved with her legs.  I know it's an odd thing to obsess over.  It's just I didn't notice anyone else doing any clothing changes (except for David's big business suit of course).

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10 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I don't think those two things are incompatible, are they?

1. Audience reactions can be out-of-sync to what's on screen (granted, I don't know if this is true)
2. Having an audience helps lift a band's performance

I re-read the review and I slightly mis-spoke about the audience.  Ebert's review mentions he was glad there were no (or few) shots of the audience during the concert since the audience's actions were often out of sync with what the band was performing.  In other words, since they couldn't have a camera always filming the audience, the cameramen would have to get "pick up" shots of the audience.  Those shots would be taken during a later song so it's not a true depiction of the audience's response to the specific song the band is performing.  I can agree with the rationale to leave the audience shots out of it.  My issue is with the sound of the crowd.  It would have been nice to hear more of them, singing or clapping at the end of a song.

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

I read on Wikipedia that on the soundtrack the songs are out of order so you don’t get that build up of adding another bad member on every song—which is a bizarre choice to me.

The common thinking is great movie, bad soundtrack. The current version of the soundtrack follows the movie now. Apparently the soundtrack was also mixed differently.

I can kind of understand a bit of shuffling to fit as many songs as possible into an LP but it seems so dumb to also make more changes than absolutely necessary. 

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1 hour ago, Cinco DeNio said:

I have never understood how Bono can write songs that sounds like a random phrase generator wrote them.

That's interesting, because David Byrne is famous for basically writing phrases, tossing them in a hat, and picking them out. That may be somewhat apocryphal, but he definitely tapped into a stream-of-consciousness art school vibe for a lot of his songs. He does have some stories though, "Once In A Lifetime," "Psycho Killer," "Big Country," etc. But he's avoided formula as a rule.

Brian Eno brought that vibe to Bono too. Eno produced both TH and U2; it isn't Bono's natural tendency to write that way.

 

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1 hour ago, AlmostAGhost said:

That's interesting, because David Byrne is famous for basically writing phrases, tossing them in a hat, and picking them out. That may be somewhat apocryphal, but he definitely tapped into a stream-of-consciousness art school vibe for a lot of his songs. He does have some stories though, "Once In A Lifetime," "Psycho Killer," "Big Country," etc. But he's avoided formula as a rule.

Brian Eno brought that vibe to Bono too. Eno produced both TH and U2; it isn't Bono's natural tendency to write that way.

 

On Naked, the band wrote the music (and maybe even recorded it). David Byrne just sang words until he found the melody and lyrics he liked. I don't think they are necessarily nonsense but they certainly aren't telling stories.

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4 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

On Naked, the band wrote the music (and maybe even recorded it). David Byrne just sang words until he found the melody and lyrics he liked. I don't think they are necessarily nonsense but they certainly aren't telling stories.

Yea. Remain In Light is famous for this too. There are some traditionally structured lyrics ("Nothing But Flowers" is on Naked and it has a definite point-of-view) but mostly yea, he wanted to challenge form and what was in a pop lyric.

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2 hours ago, grudlian. said:

On Naked, the band wrote the music (and maybe even recorded it). David Byrne just sang words until he found the melody and lyrics he liked. I don't think they are necessarily nonsense but they certainly aren't telling stories.

True or otherwise

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6 hours ago, Cinco DeNio said:

I don't understand that either.  I was also curious about "consistency" (whatever the movie term is to make sure things are the same on each new take).  At one point early on Tina Weymouth loses her long pants (shortly after Slippery People - where everyone jogs on stage).  I thought it was an odd costume choice then I'm like "Duh.  They filmed four concerts.  People aren't going to wear the exact same outfits every night." but the pants stayed off for the rest of the time that I watched.  It also seemed like she was wearing some sort of patterned leggings.  I saw shadows but then some shadows moved with her legs.  I know it's an odd thing to obsess over.  It's just I didn't notice anyone else doing any clothing changes (except for David's big business suit of course).

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This is what I'm talking about.

Now you see them

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Now you don't (but look at the pattern)

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She definitely is more active

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There are some songs that didn't make the cut. This is mildly annoying tiome because I Zimbra is probably my favorite Talking Heads song. Part of me wonders why because having this movie is already under 90 minutes.

 

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Haven't seen this film in a long time but I really should make the effort. Demme was arguably as great a director of concert films and music videos as he was of feature films. He also directed a concert film of one of my favourite musicians, Robyn Hitchcock, called Storefront.

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There are some directors that I really like like Wes Anderson and David Lynch that share I lot in common with David Byrne. There are lots of little odd choices in movement or wardrobe or set, that on the surface just read as weird or random. Yet everything, and I do believe everything, was painstakingly thought over by David Byrne. Some might have greater meaning and some may be just things that tickled him, but everything is deliberate. I think that's what separates him and those directors from a lot of other people that try to ape that style or a Tom Jane who decides he just needs to smoke a pipe.

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To expand on my last point a little and just spew some more love onto David Byrne (yes I should give more credit to the band but from what I hear he was very controlling and things were usually always his call) is that he made music in a weird way like art. He was always hearing things and bringing them in. A new style he liked, a new instrument he heard, etc. he would find some way to bring it in, use it, and keep it Talking Heads. To the same degree we're not just watching musicians go out on stage and preform, there is a lot of thought put into costuming and movements and everything that just elevate it all to a certain degree. It always leaves me impress and visually tuned in when most concert films I easily find myself tuning out because you might as well just be listening to the music the visuals are not that important.

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3 hours ago, Cam Bert said:

To expand on my last point a little and just spew some more love onto David Byrne (yes I should give more credit to the band but from what I hear he was very controlling and things were usually always his call) is that he made music in a weird way like art. He was always hearing things and bringing them in. A new style he liked, a new instrument he heard, etc. he would find some way to bring it in, use it, and keep it Talking Heads. To the same degree we're not just watching musicians go out on stage and preform, there is a lot of thought put into costuming and movements and everything that just elevate it all to a certain degree. It always leaves me impress and visually tuned in when most concert films I easily find myself tuning out because you might as well just be listening to the music the visuals are not that important.

Yeah, if you ever heard Tom Tom Club or Casual Gods, it becomes apparent pretty quickly who was the driving genius behind Talking Heads. Not that the other musicians were bad by any means, but.

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