Song of the Day: Talking Heads “Sax and Violins”
“Sax and Violins” is one of the lesser known Talking Heads songs, appearing as it did as the main title for the little seen Wim Wenders noir/science fiction film, Until The End of the World. Despite its lack of notoriety, it is one of their best. Songwriter/ singer/ guitarist David Byrne wrote of the song:
The movie is supposed to take place in the year 2000, so I spent a lot of time trying to image music of the near future: post-rock sludge with lyrics sponsored by Coke and Pepsi? Music created by machines with human shouts of agony and betrayal thrown in? Faux Appalachian ballads, the anti-tech wave? The same sounds and licks from the 60s and 70s regurgitated yet again by a new generation of samplers? The Milli Vanilli revival? Rappin’ politicos… sell your soul to the beat, y’all? Well, it was daunting… so I figured, hell with it, I’d imagine Talking Heads doing a reunion LP in the year 2000, and them sounding just like they used to.”
The song strongly succeeds in this regard. It is an epic in miniature and rather left-field re-imagining of Talking Heads‘ sound: bringing synths more fully into things. The song also manages to play on many of Byrne‘s underlying themes of urban alienation but in a way that seems calmer and more mature than some of his earlier work with the band. Byrne‘s imagining of the band reuniting in the year 2000 and carrying their sound forward in many ways led to Byrne almost perfectly articulating what an older version of Talking Heads might sound like, while also crafting one of their best songs. The film that the song comes from, while quite long, is also well-worth seeing if you can find it.