David Byrne: Indie Rock’s Patron Saint

By Stereogum / January 15, 2007

Great article in the New York Times this weekend, tracing the evolution of the Talking Head from an “archetypal nerve-racked data-age persona” to the “mellow,” show-going, approachable multi-media artist he is today. In support of the saintly tag the NYT gave him, they say:

Perhaps more surprising is that while Mr. Byrne has been busy being a curator, sculpturing, drawing, mounting theatrical pieces about deposed foreign leaders and buying shoes, he has also become, without fanfare or Talking Heads reunion tours, perhaps the single greatest influence on the current generation of indie rockers. Four of the most hotly anticipated CDs of 2007 ? by the Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, !!! and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ? are coming from bands that, each in its individual way, show a clear stylistic debt to Mr. Byrne and his old group.

And in support of the old David, they point to this skittish interview with Letterman in ’81. But now the man commands respect for his “can-do attitude,” his voracious appetite for new music, and his artistic embrace of blogging and technology. Said Win Butler:

“He?s just kind of pursued what he finds interesting and hasn?t been specifically chasing after an audience, and I have a lot of respect for that … I don?t think of him as a pop star, really. He?s like a scientist, or a professor.”

And as we know, the man makes plenty of appearances at NYC rock shows. He told NYT:

“Sure, I go out a lot, he said. “I?m in New York, and I?m a music fan. But sometimes I go out to these shows and I go ?Where are my peers?,? you know? Where are the musicians from my generation, or the generation after mine? Don?t they go out to hear music? Do they just stay home? Are they doing drugs? What?s going on??

He laughed and shook his head. ?Or maybe they?re just not interested anymore. They?re watching ?Desperate Housewives.? ?

His intellectual peers? Maybe they really are scientists and professors. The Times mentioned David spottings at Cat Power, Gnarls Barkley, and Otto, so let’s make it a game. Give us your favorite Byrne sighting. (Yes, narrow it down to one, stalkers.)