Talking Heads

Stop Making Sense

The piece by Katelyn Best ’13 about Reedies still loving the band Talking Heads and their concert film, Stop Making Sense, brought me back to orientation week of my freshman year, 1983, when the movie had just come out and an official field trip was organized for us to see it. I remember being struck by the varied fashion sensibilities of the people in the bus. There were kids like me who came of age during punk rock with jagged hairdos and work shirts with name patches that said “Bill.” There were Deadheads wearing colorful natural fibers. There were gay boys in crisp polos and mod, pegged pants. There were dykes in dungarees. And, of course, there were those kids who looked, for lack of a better description, like scientists. Everyone got on the bus wearing the uniform of his or her distinct tribe. 

Talking Heads were a special band because they had a little something for everyone. They had a DIY, garage-band sensibility that appealed to the punks, a spaced-out lyrical ambiguity that worked for the Deadheads. They were neat and nerdy yet could sound menacing and crazy. They laid down upper-middle-class art-student concerns to the rhythms of soul and Afrobeat.

By the end of the first semester we all were borrowing one another’s clothes. The clique identities that we had worked so hard at cultivating while in high school now seemed less compelling. A punk starts listening to Joni Mitchell because some interesting person living in his dorm plays her at just the right moment. A Deadhead gets into Chinese opera and industrial noise music because her friend has a radio show on KRRC and plays those genres back to back. This is what college should be about: realizing how beautiful the other tribe’s music is, and how fun it is to dance to it. 

—Michael Goldman (Donally) ’89

White Plains, New York