Thursday, May 22, 2008

Promising collaborations: David Byrne and Dirty Projectors

Wow. I’m thrilled to hear the results of a session with two really great Davids: Byrne and Longstreth.

Byrne, in a post on his blog a couple of days ago (which reached me via Stereogum), discusses recording this past Sunday and Monday with Dirty Projectors for the upcoming “Red Hot and Indie” compilation, which is being produced by members of the National and will also feature Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Feist, Sharon Jones and the Decemberists.

After giving a weird but pretty apt description of Dirty Projectors (“Their music has familiar elements, yet often sounds like pop music by someone who has read about the form, but never heard it, and then handed the essential building blocks to make some songs”), Byrne reveals a scenario that has probably been the subject of quite a few musical wet dreams over the last 30 years:

As a starting point for the second song, I sent Dave some lyrics I had written in maybe ’75 or ’76 ... These lyrics were unlike any I knew at the time, and made some of those [Talking Heads] tunes so peculiar. These songs didn’t lack emotion, but filtered it through an extremely constricting linguistic bottleneck, making the tension more pronounced, though never explicit. That sounds pretentious — and maybe it is — but looking back I can now see how truly odd those lyrics were. And I realize I don’t, and probably can’t, write like that anymore. Given the Projectors’ output however, these lyrics seemed like something they might “get.”

More amazing, Byrne seems to apologize for being the straight man here:

I still feel that I may have straightened out these DP tunes just a tiny bit, although perhaps it’s not an entirely bad thing: I sense that my participation reveals that there is a lot of method into what — at least for some — appears to be the total madness of the DP’s tunes.

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