(How To Sing…) “Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads

Continuing my dirty habit of posting lyrics and talking too much about them, here’s How To Sing…

“Life During Wartime” by  Talking Heads

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 brownstore, 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, I work in the nightime,
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 might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peant 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 like to kiss you, I’d love you hold 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,
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 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

This is a song both better and worse than I remember it. Because I was hearing a different song:

Real lyric: “Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway”

…but I heard it as: “Heard of some great sex, out by the highway”

Result: I prefer mine.

Example 2:

Real Lyric: “Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock/we blended in with the crowd”

…but I heard it as: “Purple in transit, that purple robot/we blended in with the crowd”

Result: For once, I’m glad I’m not David Byrne.

This song is a bit like Bladerunner, if it wasn’t overrated pseudo-art film and was instead a really good song.  This is where we could be if we’re not already here. It’s paronoid, it’s a protest song of sorts, but you can dance to it. But even so, you can’t, or at least you couldn’t, “…During Wartime”. It’s got a cold war vibe, it’s Spy Vs. motherf***ing Spy. It’s The Conversation, too, y’know? Dr. Strangelove. But we’ve already established that it’s a song.

What’s brilliant about it is that most of the closing lyrics fade out while Byrne is still singing, so this hell-on-some-future-Earth is happening well after the song finishes and you lie with your feet up waiting for your sofa to explode. Before you know it, there’s Anthrax in your sherbert.

Woopsy daisy.

The last thing I hear about is the uselessness of notebooks. That means I’m greiving for the rest of the song. Yet its almost saddening to see it recovered here.  Oh Well. That’s How To Sing It…

For Your Infotainment: I have changed my hare-style but twice in a lifetime. I pretty much know what I look like.


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