Revisiting :: David Byrne’s True Stories / 1986

On Talking Heads’ final album, 1988’s Naked, the band imagines a reverse evolution, the erasing of centuries of pollution, development and commercialization. The particular song in reference is “Nothing But Flowers.” With a subtle, but knowing smirk, David Byrne laments the loss of the factories and shopping malls, the highways and parking lots, the Dairy Queens and 7-Elevens. “If this is paradise,” he sings, “I wish I had a lawn mower.”

Two years prior, Byrne would paint a picture of that world - the one of microwaves and discount stores, of rapid commercial and technological growth, in its prime, with his 1986 film, True Stories. Byrne’s sole directorial work, True Stories is very much the film equivalent of a Talking Heads album. It is a keen and musical portrait of modern America, with Byrne serving as the nameless narrator and tour guide through the fictional town of Virgil, Texas - a sort of every town, USA, in the midst of celebrating its 150th anniversary. Virgil is populated by the idiosyncrasies and the seemingly mundanes found not only in America, but on Talking Heads records as well -- highways, shopping malls, televisions and computers. And, of course, people.

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