Song of the Day: Brian Eno – “King’s Lead Hat”

Brian Eno is an integral force in rock and ambient music, whether you’re familiar with his catalog or not. As a musician, he helped found Roxy Music, released acclaimed collaborations with artists like David Byrne, and has remained an engaging and unpredictable solo artist for 40 years.

As a producer, he helped guide artists like U2, James and Devo to greatness.

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Basically, the fact that this guy isn’t in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame undermines the credibility of the whole institution. If I cared about the rapidly-aging Baby Boomers who control the Hall and their incredibly limited musical tastes, I would be outraged. Luckily, not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at this point is sort of a badge of honor, as induction seems to be a fool-proof sign that you’re done doing anything remotely relevant in your career.

Eno has gone through so many phases during his long period of productivity, but it’s not as if he leaves his old phases behind forever. For example, though he’s been mostly into ambient music as of late, his last album contained a surprise cover of “I’m Set Free” by the Velvet Underground. It was totally unexpected and totally delightful, a nice shout-out to Eno’s influences and roots. If you’re looking for a restlessly innovative artist who shows up in newspaper crossword puzzles an awful lot, you couldn’t do much better than Brian Eno. “Kings Lead Hat” is one of my favorite songs by Eno and shows up on his 1977 record Before and After Science. It may not be my favorite Eno song overall (I have a feeling that’s “St. Elmo’s Fire“), but it’s certainly one of his catchiest. For what it’s worth, “Kings Lead Hat” is an anagram for “Talking Heads.” That may mean something significant or nothing at all. The song doesn’t especially sound like Talking Heads. Well, I guess I’ll let you judge.

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