From reeling in the isles to dancing

eyebrows and spirits.

Feel the Byrne

DAVID BYRNE, the man with more hats than most, returns to his birthplace for a couple of concerts. But which BYRNE is he?

Words: Damien Love

It’s just gone ten on a New York morning; Manhattan is in the rain and David Byrne is in the office. It’s the latest in a long series of hats the man who will later refer to himself as ‘you know, the Funky Nerd' has worn »- record label boss.

Although Byrne has been referred to as Rock‘s Renaissance Man more times than he is comfortable with. his CV hardly discourages such labelling: musician. writer. photographer. installation artist. Academy award-winning soundtrack composer. filmmaker. music archivist. performance-punk art-funk theorist and now. with Luaka Bop. the label he founded in 1988. cigar-smoking music mogul.

Well. okay. maybe not the cigar bit. But in the middle of it all. just who is David Byrne'.’ The man who takes to wearing a hairy pink suit on stage for no apparent reason? Who. for

30 THE lIST 23 Jan—S Feb t998


’Some of the s‘ttiitt ideas put together he a other tunes and perita'tizahates as not thought em ahead :31? it

in the streets,

his most recent. eminently grooyeworthy alhum. l'r'r'r'in‘es had four fully posahle plastic action dolls sculpted in his own image for the eoyer'.’ Or. perhaps more interestingly. in a glohrtl-ttietlia-age kind of was. who does he think we think he is‘.’

‘l it. well.‘ he hegins. ‘it depends on who you talk to. l went out last night and some guy came up to me. and he was like squee/ing my hand. but I pretty soon sussed out that he‘d stopped listening to me after the lust cotrple of 'l‘alking Heads records. I mean it sounds like he‘d worn ‘em out. which is. you know. way nice. hut . . . So his picture of me is as this extremely twitchy. extremely shy young man that l was then.

‘l'hen there are other people who think of

me as the Art Rocker. who will do the liunk .t\rt {ock Perlorrr‘rani.‘e. wliateyer. like the Stop \laking \‘ense show: 'l‘hen there are other people who think or' me as. uh . . . 'l'he (iuy Who Went |.atin. 'l‘he Nerd Who Went

Latin. And he disappeared somewhere into South America and hasn‘t emerged yet. I get a lot of that. too.‘

'1 here‘s a unique rhythm to l)ayid Hyrne‘s speech; a language where gaps and pauses are as important as. words; thought-stops to ensure that when they appear. the words are the most suited. ()l course. liyrne has often been criticised as thinking too much. tagged

.‘ -\- It“ s*\-\‘ t‘i-se, 3-! <' 5‘ i -,s" 5; ;. Vi? Gilli? t': tstc3s'inzf 5. list.»


the fifth folk music hoolie will raise


David Byrne: intellectual with feelings shocker

hy many :otttntentatots as ‘lntellectual Rocker“. the inference being that engaging the head must somehow automatically preclude the heart.

‘l‘liat the other hit's missing‘ he says. ‘Yeah. there‘s an assumption that if something

has a certain irony. or is saying something

that's out of the realm of a pure explosion of

passion. talking ahou: other things. that it L‘Ltlt‘l he also Itfl\\lt)lllllC.. llL‘ Ltgl‘CCS. .BUI i

think that‘s heen proud untrue. by lots of

people. I won‘t say hy outsell that‘s tip to

sittttt‘t )ttt‘ else to lodge.

‘lt‘s prohahly true that some of the stuff

l'ye done is mayhe rust intellectual ideas put together by .l t'w'is.tetl mrnd. hut I think that there are other tunes and performances that are \er'y lteartl'elt . tirne.‘

'l'he e\plosrons are there. perhaps most clearly in the trankly hltstering the shows Byrne is currently olt't-rrng up and you are most strongly But. more ' importantly in the meantime. what‘s happened to the dolls'.’ Does liyr'ne use them as bath tilt. they're in a little

shrine in the office here. With

like a museum sign in front that say s “H” \(l'l' 'l'()l '(‘ll". I‘m afraid that people would start pulling the heads off them or :«irnetl'ririg.' tlf course

tlr'L’cil lit see.

Byrne plays Glasgow's Old Fruitmarket. Tue 27 Jan; Edinburgh's Queen’s Hall, Wed 28 Jan. A limited edition remix album of Feelings, not available in the shops, will be on sale at

the concerts.

[hit thought out ahead of