Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: True StoriesReleased: 1986Charted:
"Wild Wild Life" was written by David Byrne, the most talkative head of Talking Heads. It is the biggest hit single from their seventh studio album True Stories, the not-quite-a-soundtrack album from the film of the same name.
Part of this song's popularity came from the video, which won two MTV Video Music Awards in 1987 - one for Best Group Video, and one for Best Video From A Film. The video was in fact recycled film footage. As an extra bit of fractal symmetry, the film contains a sequence in which a woman is watching a music video on TV; that video was a fictional video also by the band, for their song "Love For Sale." The video was later expanded and released on its own right.
With lyrics like "Check out Mr. Businessman, he bought some wild, wild life; On the way to the stock exchange, he got some wild, wild life," the Talking Heads remind us that they took satire and social commentary back from punk rock and repackaged it in new wave drag. In the book Avant Rock - Experimental Music From Beatles to Bjork by Bill Martin, Martin argues, "If punk was in part the music of the outcast ne'er-do-well, new wave of the Talking Heads variety was the revenge of the nerds. Much punk eschewed, supposedly, any aspect of 'performance' - this is just me and my authentic rage! David Byrne went the opposite route, toward unabashed self-consciousness. Of course, that is performative as well, but part of what made Talking Heads so refreshing was the anti-attitude attitude: 'I am doing this, and I know that I am doing this.'"
As opposed to straightforward concert films such as Stop Making Sense, the film True Stories makes some attempt at a story about a village preparing for a festival, with said village populated with various oddball characters. Most notable in the cast is John Goodman, in one of his earliest major film roles. This was a year before Goodman played in Raising Arizona, which introduced him to the Coen brothers and ultimately led to his most famous role as Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski: "I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon - with nail polish!"