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Talking Heads – Academic Book Collection

Posted: March 31st, 2022 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Talking Heads – Academic Book Collection Call for Papers

Talking Heads have proved to be one of the most influential of any of the groups associated with the punk and new wave scene that flourished in New York in the mid-1970s. They released a number of epoch-defining albums (Talking Heads 77, Fear of Music, Remain in Light, Little Creatures); they spawned influential and successful offshoots- David Byrne’s collaboration with Brian Eno on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts; Tom Tom Club (Tina Weymouth’s and Chris Frantz’s side project); and their forays into other media (music video; the concert film Stop Making Sense; and the feature film True Stories) were, for the most part, both critically and commercially successful. After the band’s dissolution, the band members, David Byrne in particular, have continued to produce music and to work in a variety of different cultural areas.

And yet the band itself is difficult to pin down. Simultaneously controlled and spontaneous; moving across a wide range of styles- from Velvet Underground influenced rock, through funk and Afrobeat, postpunk, and Americana; and with a lead singer whose lyrical output only very rarely touched on the standard topics of popular music. For these reasons (as well as for their importance as a key part of the musical environment of the 70s, 80s and beyond) Talking Heads are a particularly complex and interesting band; however, as yet, their work (and the work of band members after the group dissolved) has rarely come under academic scrutiny.

To fill this gap, we are looking for 6 – 7 ,000 word studies focusing on Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and/or other collective, collaborative or solo releases and projects from all the band members – from 1975 through to the present.

Subjects for discussion might include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) The work- thematic, analytical studies

2) The work- individual, grouped or comparative studies of studio and/or live albums

3) The work- musical/lyrical styles

4) The work- studio recording practice, the influence of Eno

5) The work- album artwork and visual (re)presentation

6) The band / David Byrne in performance

7) Talking Heads and geographical / aesthetic musical cultures

    • NY Punk and CBGB
    • Post-Punk / New Wave
    • trans-Atlantic identity
    • intra/inter-cultural musical hybridisation (African music, American popular music forms)
    • genre blending

8) The role of theoretical and academic influences

9) Cross-media/interdisciplinary work- music videos, True Stories, Stop Making Sense, Once in a Lifetime (Channel 4 1984), soundtracks, dance music, theatrical projects

10) Talking Heads as ensemble (changing band lineups/collaborations)

11) David Byrne’s other cultural works (Luaka Bop label boss/author etc)

12) The band / band members in their (sub)cultural and wider contexts

Please send your proposals to Sean Albiez ([email protected]) and David Pattie ([email protected]) by Friday 16th September 2022.

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