Monday, May 14, 2007

Don’t Worry About The Government

Today is the birthday of David Byrne, who was not born in New Orleans.

I forgive him for that oversight, though. I've been a fan of his band Talking Heads from day one. In my post-Hurricane Katrina life, I no longer have the collection of vinyl albums and video tapes I had collected of this crazy, quirky, brainy group. But I remember it all.

A favorite of mine is the song "Don't Worry About The Government," a happy enough pop ditty with a simple arrangement of guitar, bass, drums and a belltone keyboard effect that sounds innocent and pure.

"I see the clouds that move across the sky
I see the wind that moves the clouds away
It moves the clouds over by the building
I pick the building that I want to live in…"

We all make choices. We pick our building--our community of comfort and support.

"...My building has every convenience
It's gonna make life easy for me
It's gonna be easy to get things done
I will relax alone with my loved ones…"

We're at home at home. We enjoy ourselves. We enjoy each other.

"...Loved ones, loved ones visit the building,
Take the highway, park and come up and see me
I'll be working, working but if you come visit
I'll put down what I'm doing, my friends are important…"

We work in buildings, too. We find meaningful, productive work, but we always have time for friends and family.

"...Don't you worry bout me
I wouldn't worry about me
Don't you worry bout me
Don't you worry bout me…"

The more you say, "Don't worry," the more I worry.

"...I see the states, across this big nation
I see the laws made in Washington, D.C.
I think of the ones I consider my favorites
I think of the people that are working for me

"Some civil servants are just like my loved ones

They work so hard and they try to be strong
I'm a lucky guy to live in my building
They own the buildings to help them along…"

The whole country is like a big building. We live and work, and we can count on each other. Don't worry about the government, because the people who work for government are just like you and me.

David Byrne wrote this in 1977, not long after Nixon had resigned and in the midst of "stagflation." Was he being optimistic, or sarcastic? Was he toying with socialism?

And what happens when your building gets severely damaged or destroyed? Will other buildings take you in? Will the government take steps to make sure that the buildings are strong?

Well, I say forget about it. It's just a pop song. It's just a little ditty to pass the time.

Don't you worry about me. I wouldn't worry about me. Don't you worry about me.


Leigh C. said...

Now I'm thinking of another bunch of David Byrne lyrics:

I will find a city
Find myself a city to live in

We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride
Feelin' okay this morning
And you know
We're on a road to paradise
Here we go
Here we go

Byrne did a Rolling Stone interview a while back with Robert Farris Thompson, in which they discussed the extent to which he has been influenced by vodun. From reading Byrne's online journal, I can see that he hasn't stopped honing his musical and lyric skills by soaking up everything around him. His latest, "Grown Backwards", is a great example of how he keeps it all going.

Anonymous said...

I had a dream come true about 3 years ago when I FINALLY GOT TO SEE David Byrne at The House of Blues with my husband. He passed away on May 2 in Hot Springs, AR while I was dealing with rebuilding our home here. Needless to say, this blog brought back one of the happiest memories I have.

I also have every album David Byrne has written and have been a fan ever since "Stop Making Sense".

Susan Barre