Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Talking Heads -- "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" (1977)

I been to college
I been to school

The founding members of the Talking Heads -- David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth -- met when they were students at the Rhode Island School of Design ("RISD") in Providence, RI, in the early 1970's. 

Byrne left RISD after a year, but Frantz and Weymouth (who were boyfriend/girlfriend) graduated before moving to New York City and forming the Talking Heads with Byrne in 1974.

Byrne, Frantz, and Weymouth at CBGB in 1976
Byrne (a singer and guitarist) and Frantz (a drummer) had been in other bands previously.  Weymouth was not a musician, but Frantz persuaded her to learn how to play the bass guitar when he and Byrne had trouble recruiting a bass player for their new band.  The trio's first appearance was at the legendary New York punk/new wave club, CBGB, where they opened for the Ramones on June 20, 1975.  

Keyboardist Jerry Harrison, a former Harvard student who played on Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers' debut album, joined the Talking Heads just in time to appear on their first album, Talking Heads '77.  "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" was the first track of that album, which I bought and listened to zillions of times after graduating from law school and setting up housekeeping in our nation's capital in the fall of 1977.

While the Talking Heads are best known for their original songs (most of which were composed by Byrne), they also played some covers of sixties' hits when they were getting started.

They may have been the worst cover band in history.  Here they are performing "96 Tears" at CBGB.  

And here is a truly bizarre cover version of the 1910 Fruitgum Company's bubblegum hit, "1, 2, 3, Red Light."  (What were they thinking?)

RISD, which is one of the most highly regarded art and design colleges in the United States, is located in downtown Providence, very near Brown University.  It has a number of distinguished alumni, including actor and comedian Martin Mull (class of '65), fashion designer Nicole Miller ('73), film director Gus Van Sant ('75), New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast ('77), artist Shepard Fairey ('92) -- he's best known as the designer of the iconic "Hope" campaign poster for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign -- and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane ('95).

Roz Chast (RISD '77) knows blogs
About a mile from the RISD campus is the starting point of the East Bay Bike Path, a 14.5-mile-long paved rail trail that runs along Narragansett Bay from East Providence to Bristol, RI.  I stopped there on my drive back from Cape Cod last month for a ride.

Here's one of the oceangoing ships I saw in the harbor that day -- the Panagia Lady, a 600-foot long oil/chemical tanker that is owned by a Singapore shipping company.  

The Panagia Lady
There are several large windmills in the dock area:

The Pomham Rocks lighthouse was built in 1871.  Here's a picture of it from the bike trail.

Adolph Herman Aronson was the keeper of this lighthouse from 1908 until 1937.  His family owned a cat that would crouch on the edge of the island, waiting for fish to come within range, and would then dive into the water, grab the surprised fish, and bring it back to the island.  One newspaper story about the cat was headlined "Fish-Catching Cat is Self-Supporting."

Here's a photo of the Squantum Association's clubhouse, which was built in 1900.  It's a popular place for weddings, corporate meetings, and other special events.

Here's a picture from the water:

The rail trail follows the right-of-way of the Providence, Bristol, and Warren Railroad, which was completed in 1855.  In 1891, that railroad was leased by the Old Colony Railroad (the product of an earlier merger involving the Cape Cod Railroad).

Here's the former Riverside station, which now houses a tanning salon.

Here's Riverside's World War II memorial:

Riverside was also home to the Crescent Park Amusement Park (sometimes called the "Coney Island of New England"), which had a large midway, a famous ballroom, and "Shore Dinner Hall," which could seat 2000 diners.  

Crescent Park opened in 1886 and closed in 1979.  The spectacular Charles I. D. Looff Carousel (which features 61 horses, two coaches, two chariots, and a camel) has been restored and still operates every summer.

After I was done with my ride and my obsessive picture taking, I got back on I-95 and headed south.  My next stop was a big-ass outlet mall in Clinton, CT, where I spent a couple of hours replenishing my meager wardrobe.  I don't spare my readers very much, but I'll spare you from a listing of what I bought at the Nike, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren Polo, Levi's, and Kate Spade outlet stores.  (I will note that I wasn't shopping for myself at the Kate Spade store.)  

"Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" is a love song of sorts.  The singer is well aware that love can be very distracting:

Jet pilot gone out of control
Ship captain run aground
Stockbroker make a bad investment 
When love has come to town

He decides that spending time with his babe is more important than his job:

I called in sick
I won't go to work today
I'd rather be
With the one I love

But later he has second thoughts:

Where is my common sense?
How did I get in a jam like this? . . .
The answer is obvious
Love has come to town

Here's "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town":

You can use this link to buy the song from Amazon:

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