Thursday, May 27, 2010

David Byrne and Brian Eno: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

This record was born as a dinner conversation. While dining in New York with David and some other friends, I mentioned that I had accumulated a lot of music, which, despite my intentions, I had never formed into songs. David volunteered to give them a try. By and large, we stuck to our separate territories: I worked on the instrumentals, and he generally focused on the lyrics and vocals. This arrangement seemed to work well.

Upon starting this project, we quickly realized we were making something like electronic gospel, music in which singing becomes the central event, but whose sonic landscapes are atypical of such vocal-centered tracks. This notion tapped into my long love affair with gospel music, which, curiously, was inadvertently initiated by David and the Talking Heads.

“Surrender to His Will,” by Reverend Maceo Woods and The Christian Tabernacle Choir, was the first gospel song I ever really responded to. I heard it on a distant South American radio station whilst in Compass Point, Nassau, working with Talking Heads on the album More Songs about Buildings and Food. Spending time with them, and becoming aware of their musical interests, opened my ears to genres and styles I hadn't really noticed up to that point, including gospel. So, it's fitting that the circle should close with this record.

As a foreigner in New York — where I ended up shortly after recording More Songs — I was surprised by how little attention Americans gave to their own great indigenous music. It was even slightly uncool, as though the endorsement of gospel necessarily implied support of its associated religious framework. Thanks to Reverend Woods however, I began to see gospel music as conveying the act of surrender more than the act of worship; and this, of course, intrigued me, and has informed my music ever since. Perhaps it's the reason I use modes and chords that are easy to follow and harmonize with. I want music to be inviting, to offer the listener a place inside it. I think David responded to this with sensitivity and skill, and his natural edginess made those familiar progressions sound new to me once again.

— Brian Eno

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!