SONG OF THE DAY: Talking Heads – Heaven

Jordan Posner Recalls: The idea of heaven is kind of nutty-nuts, if you ask me. If everyone gets everything they have ever wanted, wouldn’t some of those things run in direct conflict with others? If my ideal heaven involves eating corned beef while listening to Brad Paisley, and someone else’s heaven is free from cured meats and shitty pop-country music, then how can the two of us exist in a society? If both of these things somehow happen at the same time, that sounds like a complete atomic reversal of the universe, resulting in the fabric of reality being undone. If one ideal trumps the other, then can it be said that we are truly in heaven? Okay, so then you have your own personal heaven that you experience by yourself. Eventually that might get old. Assuming your soul is eternal and takes on the vague characteristics of yourself as a person, you’re probably going to want to see some people ever again. We, as people (halos or without) need human contact (except for  Mr. Bevis from The Twilight Zone, who just wanted to read his books without interruption). Of course, this is assuming we exist to begin with, and reality isn’t the elaborate ruse of an devil and deceitful demon.

There’s enough metaphysics in here to make Rene Descartes do a massive bong rip.

Truly, if heaven existed, the saccharine monotony of it would drive your conscious brain to madness. As David Byrne intones in the chorus, “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” Any place that’s so PG-rated, so innocuous, is bound to be hellishly repetitive. Byrne, of course, is no stranger to media satire. While he skewers the traditional, neutered idea of the afterlife, he’s just as much alluding to the portrayal of said afterlife in popular culture. The only reason we have this goody-goody idea of heaven is because we’ve been inundated with images of it as a cloud city, not unlike the one that gave rise to Lando Calrissian. This is a place where you get to hear your favorite song, but it plays over and over again until it becomes a grotesque parody of itself. Talking Heads, like their contemporaries Devo, have  always made their art school background incredibly obvious, existing an arm’s length above the “Carbona-sniffing rock” of the Ramones and the Heartbreakers, and maintaining a safe, ironic distance from the uncivilized trappings of punk. In Byrne’s “Heaven,”: the Heads do what they do best: turn our ridiculous American experience on its head.

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P.S. The legendary rock film Stop Making Sense features a great live version of this song, among others. You know what? You’d better watch that, too.

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