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“You oughta know not to stand by the window. Somebody’ll see you up there”

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites out by the highway
A place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire off in the distance
I’m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto
I’ve lived all over this town

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey-dovey
I ain’t got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver
Hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, a couple of visas
You don’t even know my real name
High on a hillside, the trucks are loading
Everything’s ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime and I work in the nighttime
I might not ever get home

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
This ain’t no Mudd Club, or C.B.G.B
I ain’t got time for that now

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody’ll see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter
To last a couple of days
But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no headphones
Ain’t got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can’t write a letter, can’t send no postcard
I ain’t got time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock
We blended in with the crowd
We got computers, we’re tapping phone lines
I know that that ain’t allowed
We dress like students, we dress like housewives
Or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle so many times now
I don’t know what I look like
You make me shiver, I feel so tender
We make a pretty good team
Don’t get exhausted, I’ll do some driving
You ought to get you some sleep
Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
They won’t help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace
The burning keeps me alive
Get your instructions
Follow directions–

“Life During Wartime,” an apocalyptic swamp-funk transmission in four-four time. In the first line, the front man David Byrne molds his plastic tenor into a paranoiac-newscaster voice to announce, “Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons”; then, in the second, he steadies it as though to disown his excitement, and, like some repentant father pointing at the family station wagon, avers, “Packed up and ready to go.” (Note, too, that reluctant collusion between the “o”s in “loaded” and “go,” which Byrne emphasizes—a dissociative gulch somewhere between assonance and rhyme.) For Lethem, “Life During Wartime” is the band’s pinnacle, and the song is still a hell of a thing to hear. (A point about Talking Heads not often enough made: they cooked. Byrne was the funkiest white man in pop until Flea showed up.)

Byrne’s vision of the future, as expressed to NME at the time of the record’s release, was striking in its accuracy: “There will be chronic food shortages and gas shortages and people will live in hovels. Paradoxically, they’ll be surrounded by computers the size of wrist watches. Calculators will be cheap. It’ll be as easy to hookup your computer with a central television bank as it is to get the week’s groceries.”Behind the Song

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  • Ulysses Toole March 12, 2022, 4:10 PM

    Adderall and cocaine are quite the additive for great entertainment.

  • A Van Down By The River March 12, 2022, 5:12 PM

    Fear of Music is a classic as are their first four albums IMO. Burning Down the House would be a good theme song for the CPUSA [Democrats] and their Long March to burn it all down.
    Some great session players such as Adrian Belew, Bernie Worrell, Busta Jones, mostly on Remain In Light and later albums.

  • ghostsniper March 12, 2022, 6:29 PM

    Spring ahead.
    And while you’re at it, check your ac/furnace filters
    and go ahead and check your smoke/co2 detectors too.

    • azlibertarian March 13, 2022, 10:02 AM

      What is this “Spring ahead” of which you speak, says the guy from Arizona.

      That’s good advice on HVAC filters. I replace mine on odd-numbered months (which I haven’t done yet this month but I will). We’ve got very hard water here too, and I’m due for my semi-annual flushing of my water heater. Then there’s the pool maintenance….it’ll be hot here soon and that 14,000 gallon chemistry experiment had better be ready for the grandkids.

      Maybe its just me, but its easy to forget that CO2 detectors do eventually expire. Putting in fresh batteries might not be enough.

      • ghostsniper March 13, 2022, 6:35 PM

        Arizona. Where time is normal all the time. You lucky dawg. My current Kidde CO2 detector has a built in 10 year battery – non changeable. I test it every now and then to make sure that battery is still doing it. Pulled the cover back on the pool the other day and the water appeared to be in good shape. Did a water test and the ph needs some correction. Warming up this coming week so the cover will come off and we’ll fire up the pump. Spring is starting!

  • Dirk March 12, 2022, 7:18 PM

    Awesome music, big fan of the Talking Heads.

    Sitting at 5600 ft, alt, was in a parade today, little town, Pub Crawls going down as I pen this,,,,,,dam those Irish. Small parade, sadly we didn’t win the best in class, cuz we pitched 30 pounds a candy to the yuts. Apparently a no no.

    A wild fire started today, some retard burning brush piles in fifty mile an hour winds! My kids out on his bulldozer, pushing in a fire line. Huge stand of old growth right above this place. Gonna snow after midnight, should knock the blaze down.

    March and wild land fires happening, crazy shit.

  • bob sykes March 13, 2022, 6:00 AM

    Big fan of Talking Heads. Sometimes during my lectures, Psycho Killer would drift through my mind. That or, more commonly, Hey Nineteen.

  • KCK March 13, 2022, 9:07 AM

    In the apocalyptic wasteland that was Eighties music, there were nevertheless some notes of brilliance. TH was one of the great bands.

  • robert kendall March 13, 2022, 9:10 AM

    have had this song going through my head alot lately