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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ex-Talking Head David Byrne returns to Spokane

Same as he ever was

Brian Eno and David Byrne have worked together since 1978.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Brian Eno and David Byrne have worked together since 1978. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

The name David Byrne conjures up: – Talking Heads. – World music explorer. – Big suit. – “Big Love” soundtrack composer. – “Same as it ever was.” – “Stop Making Sense.” – Artist, photographer and film director. Add the words “Brian Eno collaborator” to that list, because Byrne and Eno have had a fruitful musical partnership since 1978. Eno produced three Talking Heads albums, including the influential “Remain In Light,” and also joined Byrne on several non-Heads collaborations, including “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.”

That’s why Byrne’s concert on Thursday at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox is titled “Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno” – even though Eno will not be onstage.

Joining Byrne will be a five-piece band, three backup singers and three dancers.

The spirit of Eno will be present in the arrangements and compositions, beginning with many of the classic Talking Heads songs all the way through his 2008 collaboration with Byrne, the “electronic folk gospel” album “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.”

David Bauder of the Associated Press calls it “the most delightful disc of Byrne’s post-Talking Heads career.”

It began with the two old friends meeting in New York and working on one song, “One Fine Day.” That turned out so well, they just kept going – usually collaborating long-distance via e-mail.

Eno, for instance, would e-mail a sound file of himself playing chord changes on a guitar. Byrne would flesh it out into a song and send it back. Then Eno would flesh it out even more.

“There was no talk of doing a record,” Byrne told the Timaru Herald in New Zealand, where he was touring last week.

“At first I thought maybe I was writing words and a melody and then he would sing them. But it ended up the way it is. We liked the way it was going and ended up making a record.”

When the album was finished last summer, they released it exclusively on iTunes and sold nearly 20,000 downloads, according to Bauder. Not until November was it issued as a CD.

So it was only natural for Byrne to put together a live show featuring those recent collaborations and many of the great songs from the Eno-produced Talking Heads albums, “More Songs About Buildings and Food,” “Fear of Music” and “Remain in Light.”

Those who want to hear Talking Heads hits should be reassured by the fact that those three albums contain “Take Me to the River,” “Life During Wartime,” “I Zimbra,” and “Once in a Lifetime,” to name just a few favorites.

The words “bicyclist” and “blogger” also are associated with Byrne. Both of those interests came together in Spokane in 2004, when he was in town for a show at the Big Easy Concert House, now the Knitting Factory.

Tom Emerson Jr., a serious David Byrne fan from Post Falls, found some of Byrne’s old blog posts surrounding his Spokane visit.

“Tracy and I biked upriver,” wrote Byrne in August 2004. “There’s a lovely paved path, Centennial Trail, that goes all the way to Idaho. The city was really smart to get it built. There are lots of people out during the weekend heat enjoying it.

“We go out past the town along the riverside, through pine forest and scrub, and get as far as a beach, where a large man with a Mohawk is standing waist-deep in the water, smoking a cigarette.”

Bicycling on the Centennial Trail won’t be quite as easy or as warm this time around. Yet there’s a good chance that the fans at the concert will react the way they did in 2004:

“Up and dancing and yelling,” Byrne reported approvingly.

Jim Kershner can be reached at (509) 459-5493 or by e-mail at

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