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Friday, July 23, 2004

Life During Wartime

We have all danced to it. One of the Talking Heads biggest hits. An 80s staple. Bring on the big beat. But give it another good listen. I mean really listen. Taek off the dancing shoes and sit down and consider the lyrics. This is a terrying song. About Armageddon. About the end of the world. I think David is preaching the new wave gospel. He means to take over. Byrne is preaching us to take the party to the hills because life here in town is about to rain hell. "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" That is some beautiful film noir imagery. It cleary set the theme and gets us ready for the dialectic to follow. Next, that all too familiar lead up to the refrain: "I'm getting used to it now Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto I've lived all over this town" This isn't a class struggle. This affects all of us. We all must flee. Okay, here it comes - try not to dance, there is work to be done: "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" I mean it, I really mean it. Pay attention. I am not just some guy in a big old white suit dancing around. We have trouble, right here in River City. "Transmit the message, to the receiver hope for an answer some day I got three passports, couple of visas don't even know my real name High on a hillside, trucks are loading everything's ready to roll I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime I might not ever get home." (Totally unrelated, but this reminds me of Warren Zevon's lawyer's guns and money. ) "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" I really, really mean it! "Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit? Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?" Obviously, we have missed some of the drama already, but our time is coming. "You oughta know not to stand by the window somebody might 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 a postcard I can't write nothing at all "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco this ain't no fooling around I'd love you hold you, I'd like to kiss you I ain't got no 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 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 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 "Get you instructions, follow directions then you should change your address Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day whatever you think is best 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 Try to stay healthy, physical fitness don't want to catch no disease Try to be careful, don't take no chances you better watch what you say" Wow, that is some magic. Like the last few hours of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas put to music. What we had is gone and the new is coming. We don't know what it is. We should fear it. I just dig this song.