The Friday Morning Listen: Talking Heads – True Stories (1986)

I drive through the country (and the suburbs too), read the papers, and surf the Internet … and see & hear a lot of intriguing things. Also, a lot of things commonly held in high esteem that I just don’t get. Actually, most things held in high regard are lost on me. That’s not a big deal though. I’m sort of used to it. Outsiders don’t have much choice in these matters. It’s either accept who you are — or who you are not — or let the externally-generated tension do you in.

Specifics? I don’t need a fake farmer’s porch on my house. It would kind of creep me out to have a house that was only slightly varied in look from my neighbors. I don’t want to go to a mall…or a strip mall with the same eight stores you see in every town. Along those same lines, why would anybody want to eat at the food court? Or any other corporate entity? I’m sorry but food should not be shipped to the restaurant in a nearly-completed state.

I don’t really want a yellow ribbon magnet attached to the back of my car. And please don’t look down on me for not watching American Idol. I don’t think less of you for following it, I really don’t. I don’t care about sports either. That doesn’t make me better than you, just different.

[SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: We dig into some favorite Talking Heads cuts, including "Once in a Lifetime," "Crosseyed and Painless," "Memories Can't Wait," "I Zimbra" and "Sax and Violins."]

Politics? I shouldn’t talk about it. Though here’s a funny thing that happened to me last week. I commented on Facebook about something related to the current presidential campaign and a guy, clearly agitated at my thoughts, commented with “I bet you blow your nose with the American flag.” It’s kind of amazing how people can “know” other people by a cursory look at their viewpoints. Of course, I couldn’t help but think this guy was an idiot based on a single comment, so maybe I’m in the wrong too.

People are sometimes unaware of our society’s pressure to conform. It can make the world a lonely place. For all of the talk of “the land of the free,” it’s quite surprising to see how little effort is involved in landing the “different” label…and how much effort is required to get that label removed.

When True Stories first came out, I read a review of it that accused David Byrne of having a snotty attitude toward suburbia, as if that cultural phenomenon was somehow un-touchable. The emergence of suburbia led to a fundamental transformation in how many of us live. But is it beyond criticism?

Obviously, none of these things are without their issues. But if we get hung up on reflexively protecting our preferences, then our concept of “free” is seriously flawed.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.