Appreciating all that makes America special

Song: “Psycho Killer”

Near the beginning of their career, the Talking Heads performed Psycho Killer on British TV. Uploaded by stagevudotcom.

“‘Psycho Killer,’ huh? Hey Mr. Great American Things guy, maybe you didn’t know that this song was such a huge hit that it made it all the way to number 92 on the Billboard chart. Nine-tee-two. Psycho? Yeah, you’re crazy for putting this song on the list!”

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All I can say in defense is nanny nanny booboo. And that this was the first single released by the Talking Heads (Great American Things, March 6, 2010). Of course, it does sound strange to call music released in 1977 “new wave,” but this group epitomized why it achieved such success. Bill Janovitz at the music review site allmusic wrote this about the song: “With songs such as ‘Psycho Killer,’ David Byrne and his crew seemed as threatening as any of their nihilist colleagues, perhaps more so; somehow, Byrne was eerily convincing playing the role of a disturbed outsider.”

Here are two versions of the song. (Ain’t YouTube something?) The first is early on, recorded live on the BBC2 show The Old Grey Whistle Test. It’s distinguished by Tina Weymouth’s driving bass. The second is my favorite, an acoustic version featuring David Byrne from the concert movie Stop Making Sense, directed by Jonathan Demme.

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  1. My first favorite band.

  2. Saw Talking Heads at the Rutgers Student Center, right after their first album Talking Heads 77 was released, tickets were $1.50. Saw a bright creative spark there that these guys were destined for bigger things – David Byrne singing “Psycho Killer’ while standing on his tippy toes, and at end of the show apologizing that they couldn’t go on because they “didn’t know anymore songs”.