Crosseyed And Painless

Album: Remain In Light (1980)


  • Long before the concept of "alternative facts" entered the lexicon, Talking Heads explored the idea on "Crosseyed And Painless," which is written from the perspective of a guy losing his mind, not sure what is real:

    Facts are simple and facts are straight
    Facts are lazy and facts are late
    Facts all come with points of view
    Facts don't do what I want them to

    The chorus repeats the line "I'm still waiting," as he's unable to find any clarity.
  • Talking Heads show their funky side on this unconventional track. The music was written at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, where the band recorded with producer Brian Eno. Group leader David Byrne, bass player Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz had art school backgrounds, which led to a distinct musical approach that wasn't too concerned with song structure. Eno was also big on experimentation, which led to the musical gumbo of "Crosseyed And Painless." Like the rest of the songs on the Remain In Light album, Eno got a writing credit along with the band members.

    Overdubs and vocals were recorded back in America at Sigma Sound in New York City.
  • According to drummer Chris Frantz, David Byrne was struggling with the bridge section that starts with the "facts are simple" line. He needed to get a lot of words in short space, so Frantz suggested he try rap, which was novel at the time. Byrne gave it a try and nailed it on the first take.
  • David Byrne and Jerry Harrison are excellent rhythm guitar players, but when Talking Heads needed a shredder, they looked outside the band for help. Adrian Belew, who stopped by the studio while he was on tour with David Bowie, did the guitar solo on "Crosseyed And Painless."
  • Talking Heads were one of the first American acts to make music videos before MTV went on the air. For the Remain In Light album, they made videos for "Once In A Lifetime" and for "Crosseyed And Painless." Both were directed by Toni Basil, who in 1982 became an MTV star with "Mickey." The Talking Heads took a break after releasing the album, so Basil worked with Byrne on the videos. "Once In A Lifetime" is just him, doing odd movements that Basil tweaked. "Crosseyed And Painless" stars The Electric Boogaloos, a West Coast dance troupe Basil was working with. They did a version of breakdancing, with lots of popping and locking.

    "Once In A Lifetime" was a huge hit on MTV, but they didn't play the "Crosseyed And Painless" video, likely because the band didn't appear in it.
  • This was the encore song when Talking Heads toured in 1983. With five additional performers in their touring band, they were able to make it a live rave-up and a fitting end to the concerts, which is seen in the 1984 film Stop Making Sense. During these shows, David Byrne portrayed the characters from the songs in an oblique physical way. In this context, "Crosseyed And Painless" was his character finally shedding his demons and letting loose along with the rest of the band and crew.
  • Yep, that's a Moonwalk you see in the video, two years before Michael Jackson broke it out on the 1983 Motown 25 special. Skeeter Rabbit of The Electric Boogaloos does it in the video.
  • The title, which David Byrne came up with, never shows up in the lyric. In a Songfacts interview with drummer Chris Frantz, he explained: "Crosseyed and painless is a state that we have all been in in at least one point in our lives. I think he was probably thinking of that state of intoxication."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the Song

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the SongSong Writing

How a goofy detective movie, a disenchanted director and an unlikely songwriter led to one of the biggest hits in pop history.

Bible Lyrics

Bible LyricsMusic Quiz

Rockers, rappers and pop stars have been known to quote the Bible in their songs. See if you match the artist to the biblical lyric.

Dino Cazares of Fear Factory

Dino Cazares of Fear FactorySongwriter Interviews

The guitarist/songwriter explains how he came up with his signature sound, and deconstructs some classic Fear Factory songs.

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"They're Playing My Song

Shears does very little promotion, which has kept him secluded from the spotlight. What changed when Cyndi Lauper had a hit with his song? Not much, really.

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining Victims

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining VictimsSong Writing

Just like Darrin was replaced on Bewitched, groups have swapped out original members, hoping we wouldn't notice.