Friday, November 05, 2004

Chuckle-Head Song #7: Pulled Up, by Talking Heads

Actually, I tend to giggle more when listening to the dope-de-dope "I'm just ordinary folks like you, developing the Neutron Bomb" sentiments of Don't Worry About The Government. But since I've already blogged about that song, I'll take some direction from my friend, the Governor General’s Award-winning New Testament scholar, and devote slot #7 to his personal favorite: Pulled Up.

I've only heard the live version of this song, on The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads, and I don't think it could be improved. It's one of David Byrne & Co.'s earlier songs, and has the same XTC-like sing-songy quality of DWATG - set somewhat off-kilter by stacatto, machinegun-like attacks on dualing electric guitars. It all starts innocently enough, though, as a tribute to parents:

Mommy, Daddy come and look at me now
I'm a big man in a great big town
Years ago who would believe it's true
Goes to show what a little faith can do

Alright, let's hear it for good parenting! The cheery sentiment of the music and the opening words starts to come under suspicion, however, when we reach the chorus:

I was complaining, I was down in the dumps
I feel so strong now that you pulled me up
Pulled me up up up up....

...and now Byrne's voice is moving precipitously up the scale, until he's shrieking "UP! UP! UP! UP!" then settling softly back at the bottom, where he murmurs the word some more: "upupup-uuu-up-uuu-up..."

Seems the big man isn't quite as steady on his feet as we might have thought. The second verse finds him grandly considering "all the things I might like to be/I see my name go down in history." Uh-oh. Sure enough, in the final verse the singer is caught in what could either be a Charlie Brown "Being And Nothingness" moment, or the early onset of a psychotic episode (I see the song follows Psycho Killer on 77):

I cast a shadow on the living room wall
Dark and savage with a profile so sharp

In an aside, he again acknowledges the presence of his parents, "Keep all that wonderful food on the table," then squawks, "Don't be in a hurry/I'll eat in a while," before returning to his spastic-man-on-a-balancing-ladder routine. And so it goes: the job of parenting never completely finished....

Chuckle-Head Song #6!


DarkoV said...

Belated but total agreement with this choice from one of the best albums by anyone in the last 20 years. The 2004 re-release on cd (with additional tracks) is an aural pleasure. Amazing how the music still holds up so well. The crispness and the humour of the guitar playing is alone worth buying the cd and having it on permanent cycle.

Whisky Prajer said...

DV, I'm curious: do you find yourself playing disc 1 more often than disc 2? I'd estimate my ratio of plays per disc sits close to 4:1. I'm not sure why, but I suspect Stop Making Sense sealed the fate of the band, and froze "disc 2" into permanent "intermediate" status.