Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
I used to detest The Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime.”
Genuine, unabashed, change-the-station hatred. This performance, from Jonathan Demme’s gorgeous concert film Stop Making Sense, pulled off the magnificent feat of turning that opinion completely around.
The band and the arrangement did a good deal of the work of convincing me, of course, but so do Demme’s shot choices — which rightfully focus on David Byrne’s revival-tent demeanor for most of the song, subtly keeping his hands in frame no matter where they travel, anticipating and following him when his body decides to go rogue. It’s a single unbroken take for four-and-a-half minutes, after which Demme starts playing with the sides of the stage, showing us the light and mist as well as the stark shadows, culminating in a cathartic, close-up view of Byrne releasing the last of the notes and then all but collapsing, spent from the spell just woven. Suddenly a song I couldn’t stand to listen to held a meaning for me that I hadn’t realized I needed.
I have a lot of thoughts on Demme’s work today, on the news of his passing, but this is the moment that surfaced first.