Nick Likes A Thing! #2. "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"

by Nick Smith

Hi guys. I like another thing. I like lots of things. There's a constant conversation going in my head about what the best things are. I blame High Fidelity, but frequently I wind up making top 5 lists. One list I've never fleshed out the top 5 of is the best songs ever. Because there's just too many. And there are so many great ones. And so many great ones that I'll forget for years at a time and come back to. And so many great ones that resonate monstrously for 9 months and then only really function as a reminder of where my mind was in those 9 months. When I was a young'un, I determined that "Do You Feel Like We Do?" by Peter Frampton was my favorite song. It was nominally my favorite for several years, until I determined that it no longer belonged in that role. It had most definitely been supplanted by Weezer's "Say It Ain't So." A song that maintains its stranglehold on that spot til this day. I will never tire of it, of that I am fairly certain.

But I never had a real contender for the number 2 spot. And then all of a sudden I realized that a song I already loved was sitting in it without my even knowing it. "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" by Talking Heads was there for me the whole time. I've been a huge Talking Heads fan, and I've always really liked the song. But for some reason about a week ago I started listening to it even more intently and found out that it was hitting me even harder than it ever had before. 

On the DVD of the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense  there is a featurette where David Byrne conducts an interview with himself, in a way that only he can. Discussing this song, he refers to this song as a love song, and the only one he had ever written, due to the enormity of the subject. And the fact that it is the only love song by Talking Heads only contributes to its power.

David Byrne always had a gift for finding beauty in simplicity. The simple repetitive beat keeps things moving at just the right pace for the emotion of the song to flow through without feeling slow. The lyrics are not particularly narrative, and consist mainly of cliches and other vague statements. But this does not cripple the song, because Byrne constructs it in a way that it is all just a little bit off center, grabbing your ear and pulling it towards the emotion he is evoking.

It's just two human beings. And they are home to each other. And they always will be. And everything else is inconsequential. And I like that. 

Normally when a song holds this kind of magnitude in my world I have strong opinions regarding which version you listen to. In this case you can go either way between the studio cut from Speaking In Tongues  and the live version from Stop Making Sense . It is certainly worth viewing the live version if you can track down the film. Byrne's lamp dancing is the type of weird beauty that he's built his career on. I very much enjoy the added vocal harmonies in the live version. But there are a couple subtle mistakes in the bassline that can wear on the ear sometimes. The studio version is obviously mistake-free, and sounds very good. But it does not have quite the same pop as the live version, and the missing harmony section at the end is a bit of a drawback. But you should probably just listen to both.

You probably already knew this song. But I urge you to go give it a closer listen. Maybe it will hit you in the same weak points it hit me. And even if it doesn't, everyone should listen to more Talking Heads anyway, so I'm not going to feel bad about it.