Jonathan Lethem Chooses 10 Essential Talking Heads Tracks

Slate's Culture Blog
April 19 2012 10:57 AM

Where Do I Start With Talking Heads?

The Talking Heads perform in 2002

Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

Next week brings the latest entry in the wonderful 33 1/3 book series, in which writers reflect on and examine seminal albums, from Dusty in Memphis to Dummy. The newest contribution comes from novelist Jonathan Lethem, who will provide a close, critical, and personal look at the 1979 Talking Heads album Fear of Music.

We asked Lethem to recommend 10 essential tracks for those new to Talking Heads, which, from 1975 to 1991, created a catalog of songs as eclectic and original as those of any of their rock and pop contemporaries. We collected his choices in the Spotify playlist below. (Note: To narrow his list, Lethem decided to skip some "obvious hit singles" in favor of songs those new to the band are more likely to have missed.)


For those who don't have Spotify, you can also find these songs on Amazon and elsewhere. "New Feeling" and "No Compassion" are from Talking Heads: 77 (1977); "Artists Only" and "Stay Hungry" are from More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978); "Memories Can't Wait" and "Air" are from Fear of Music (1979); "Crosseyed and Painless" and "Houses in Motion" are from Remain in Light (1980); "Slippery People" is from Speaking in Tongues (1983); and "Stay Up Late" is from Little Creatures (1985).

Jonathan Lethem is a writer who lives in Brooklyn and Maine. His most recent books are The Disappointment Artist: Essays, Men and Cartoons: Stories, and the Fortress of Solitude, a novel.



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