Thursday, August 13, 2020

A New Book About The Talking Heads By Founder Chris Frantz

The new book Remain in Love by Chris Frantz about his life and the band Talking Heads is wonderful. Chris recounts his time at the Rhode Island School of Design where he met Tina Weymouth (who would become his wife) and David Byrne in the early 70's. And how they all moved into a New York loft, got day jobs and rehearsed and wrote songs at night. They honed their sound at a music venue 3 blocks away called CBGB. Shortly there after getting a record contract that would make them famous.

I knew this band from the radio, but really didn't get to know them until a close friend got obsessed with them in the mid 80's. We would listen to all their records over and over and would be amazed at how original they were and how weird and unusual David Byrne was. I didn't know their story until I listened to this audiobook and hearing Chris Frantz read it was incredible. His recall of people he encountered in his life is remarkable. He remembers names of people at obscure meetings and what they were wearing. He may have used journal entries to remember all these details. He almost never has anything negative to say about people, commenting frequently that this person was very warm or that person was incredibly generous. 

There is no doubt that the Talking Heads are a unique band, it's no wonder that a group of art students came up with this. 

In the book Chris talks about David Byrne as being on the Autism spectrum. I never heard this before and it would explain a lot, not in a bad way.

Chris explains some song writing credits that David took and how he once at art school rearranged an art exhibit so his work would dominate the main room of the gallery. There are a few incidents like this in the book. He seems to be saying all through the book that the working relationship with David was usually good, then he would go and do something selfish, be demanding or angry. 

During the time when they got their first album released (Talking Heads '77) they went on a European tour with the The Ramones. Many chapters describe where they went, the hotels they stayed in. And a second tour with Dire Straits. This book is deep dish on details and Chris talks about a huge network of people he and his wife knew. 
Halfway though the book Chris talks about all the time they spent in the Bahamas with producer Brian Eno who was there for the recording of 3 albums at Compass Point Studios including my favorite and their magnum opus "Remain in Light". They spent a lot of time there. They produced Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers two Grammy winning albums there. He even wrote part of this book there.

They also had a huge love for Paris which they have traveled to over 26 times.

Chris sounds like a very genuine person and is very open in the book. And yes he does tell a story about being a heavy alcohol and cocaine user for many years. And getting an ultimatum from his wife to clean up his act, and he did. They have been married for 42 years.

It's special music and hearing the history told by the founder, Chris Frantz was amazing. 

This is rock history worth reading, or listening.

- JP Myers

1 comment:

  1. I disagree with your assessment of the book. Chris has inaccuracies, and at times is downright mean about David’s autism (mentioning his lack of eye contact, making fun of his art, making fun of how he eats, etc.) he is also incredibly sexist, commenting only on women’s appearances and not mentioning their contributions (except Tina).

    David has shown growth as a person and continues to make great music collaborating with many different artists. He has has three broadway musicals (Chris falsely claimed in an interview that he only had one, American Utopia, and that it is only successful due to the Talking Heads it features). Chris also claims that David is putting on an act by being more pleasant to be around than he was in the 70’s and 80’s, even though they haven’t spoken in 20 years.

    Take it with a grain of salt and do your own research because this book is full of spite and inaccuracies.