Wednesday, December 21, 2016

25 Songs About Addiction and Recovery: STAY HUNGRY, Talking Heads

I love songs that impart a sense of meaning through musical arrangement, along with lyrics. The best example I know of is Like A Hurricane, the Neil Young classic that is short on words but long on guitar work, with the guitar progressively getting more discordant and pleasant mimicking perfectly the breakdown of a long-term relationship. There are some songs that are "trippy," to use my friend from Geneseo Dennis' wonderfully descriptive word, that are obviously about being on drugs and sound like it. But there are few songs that actually give a sense of actually getting high during the song by the musical arrangements. Stay Hungry, another classic from the Talking Heads in the late 1970's, is perhaps the most perfect example.
The beginning of the song is almost nonsense--I actually have to come to believe that this is deliberate, after many years' experience of making conversation, at times just speaking to make noise, while me and my paramour of the moment were in the process of getting high. This is reinforced by the increasing tempo and words: "Pull it tighter, double beatin;, palpatation," (It would be wise to remember that although the Heads had a bit of a straight-arrow reputation, they were a product of mid-70's New York City, the locus of American punk--and a place where nearly everyone in the music scene was shooting heroin).
And then the second part of the song kicks in. It is an intense rhythm, and the keyboarrds (in the album version) and the guitar (in the live versions when Adrian Belew was part of the band) veer in and out, like rushes did when someone on was pot, heroin, or coke. And then, after a few minutes, the high is fully realized, and the lyrics resume, in an ethereal and detached--well, high-sounding way. And the singer is just describing how he feels and the trying to be creative while high before chanting, nearly ecstatically by the end, "Here I am!"

The lyrics aren't much:

I think that we can signify our love now,
Ooh Girl, you can initiate an impulse of love.

Stay hungry, Stay hungry, Stay hungry
Move a muscle, move a muscle, move a muscle.
Make a motion, make a motion, make a motion.
Pull it tighter, pull it tighter, pull it tighter.
Double beatin', double beatin', double beatin'
Double beatin', double beatin', double beatin'
Palpitation, palpitation, palpitation.
Stay hungry, Stay hungry, Stay hungry.

Here's that rhythm again.
Here's my shoulder blade.
Here's the sound I made.
Here's the picture I saved.
Here I am.


And the videos, first the studio verson: 


And then this live one: 


And then another live one, on the best tour than any band ever played:


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