Music To Parent To: Talking Heads


Is one more play of “The Wheels on the Bus” going to drive you over the edge? In “Music To Parent To,” I recommend music that both parents and kids will enjoy.

Speaking in TonguesLove songs just don’t get any better than “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody),” the final track off the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues. There’s the sweet keyboard melody in the beginning, a simple confection of notes leading to the first verse, the opening line of which articulates the song’s theme the theme of all good love stories, it seems to me “Home is where I want to be.” The desire for home, for being cozy and protected, loved and understood, is one even a baby can relate to, and there were many times that first year of his life I paced circles in our kitchen, a fussy Felix in my arms, listening to this tune.

Naïve in the title refers to how each member of Talking Heads David Byrne on vocals and guitar, Chris Franz on drums, Jerry Harrison on keyboards, and Tina Weymouth on bass all switched up instruments on this track, each playing something unfamiliar (except for Franz, who always plays drums), but it equally applies to the expression of love in the lyrics. “You’ve got light in your eyes.” “Cover up and say goodnight.” “If someone asks, this is where I’ll be.” There’s nothing overtly romantic or adult in this. Byrne sounds like a teenager, usually guarded and wary, letting down his defenses and admitting that he’s in love, a simple emotion that’s less about physical affection and more about just looking into someone else’s eyes and feeling like he belongs.

It’s just as easy to sing about this kind of love to a child; in fact, it becomes almost a lullaby when you do. “This Must Be the Place” is my go-to song for comforting Felix, or singing him to sleep. And he loves the chorus, with it’s catchy “eye-yahhs!” An added bonus? In the live version, from the film Stop Making Sense, David Byrne dances with a lamp. It’s awesome and silly.

Little CreaturesAnother Talking Heads favorite is “Stay Up Late,” from the album Little Creatures. The pleasures here are plain the song’s a catchy bit of mid-eighties pop with a great beat, driving piano riff, and funny lyrics about a baby. Again, Byrne goes the naïve route, this time singing about how he’d like to keep a baby up all night long to play and watch TV. He even works some baby talk and oinking sounds in there.

Is he singing as some deranged uncle? The baby’s older brother? A babysitter run wild? Whatever the case, my son thinks the song’s a hoot, since it’s a fantasy that he wants to play out as well. Can’t we stay up all night long with television on, Daddy?

Guess that’s what a good pop song is all about, right? No matter what the age: it’s hummable, it’s danceable, and it describes a wildly appealing fantasy.

Got song suggestions for “Music To Parent To?” Please leave ’em in the comments section.

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