Though Talking Heads came out of the 70s punk scene in New York they were anything but slash and burn Sex Pistols types. From the beginning there was something different about them. Unlike a lot of punk-rock types David Byrne looked like he couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag and probably spent his Sunday's at the library. For some reason though the contradictory image worked to Talking Heads advantage as a lot of people who appreciated punks desire to wipe the slate clean but couldn't embrace its "any day's a good day to overdose" ethos found refuge in the band's somewhat nerdy public image and experimental musicality.

By the time of the release of 1983's "Speaking in Tongues" Talking Heads had become firmly established as America's favorite alternative band. If you were in college at the time owning several Talking Heads albums was practically required. Still, they lacked that breakthrough hit that would deliver them the mountaintop. That situation finally changed with the release of the single "Burning Down the House". The song, buttressed by an appropriately quirky video in heavy rotation on MTV, reached the top 10 in both the US and Canada. The song evolved from a studio jam which, when it reached a satisfactory point, was given over to Byrne to write lyrics for. He employed the tactic of finding phrasal rhythms that matched the song's structure and then finding words that fit the phrasing. The result is a song that is hard to pin down. What exactly is it about? There is no 'subject' really. It's about music, kind of like the way that dreaming is about life.