This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)

Album: Speaking In Tongues (1983)
Charted: 51 62
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  • Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne has called this "a very personal love song," and has said it was written about a specific person, likely Adelle Lutz, a costume designer he had recently met. The couple married in 1987 and had a daughter named Malu before divorcing in 2004.
  • David Byrne keeps his personal life closed off, which makes this song unusual in that he's clearly sorting through a genuine relationship, not delivering a work of fiction like he usually does. And true to form, his love song is far from direct, with none of the gooey textures we're used to hearing from smitten songwriters.

    In the song, he feels grounded, and he's not sure what to make of it. Being "home" feels comforting, but uncertain. This ambiguity stands out in lines like "I guess I must be having fun" and "If someone asks, this is where I'll be" - he knows this is supposed to be the place, so he'll go with it.
  • "Naive Melody" was what they called the song before adding the lyrics. For the Speaking In Tongues album, they recorded the basic tracks first and would give the songs working titles that they would then replace. They got attached to the title "Naive Melody," so they kept it as a subtitle even though it doesn't appear in the lyrics.

    "We were touring as well as recording that year, so we would record the basic track, then we would go off on tour, then we would come back, go to another studio and add overdubs and things like that," drummer Chris Frantz said in a Songfacts interview. "After the tour David would take some time and write some lyrics, then we'd go back in the studio and he'd sing the lyrics and we'd add additional percussion and whatever else we wanted.

    So the original basic track was called 'Naive Melody' because the melody was naive-sounding, the melody of the keyboard. When David finished writing the lyrics, he called it 'This Must Be The Place' but decided to keep 'Naive Melody' as part of the title but in parentheses."
  • Fans quickly connected with the song, but it was only a minor hit. Over time though, it gained a much larger audience, as it expressed emotions no other song could. Its popular revival began in 1994 when Shawn Colvin covered the song. It caught on with the college crowd, and grew more popular into the next decade thanks in part to a cover by Arcade Fire, who did a version with Byrne on guest vocals. It started showing up in sets by MGMT, The String Cheese Incident, The Lumineers and many other acts. It stands as one of the most beloved songs in the Talking Heads catalog.

    "It's a very comforting song," Chris Frantz told Songfacts. "I think people listen to it and it kind of warms their hearts because it's a song with a happy and secure message. I love that song myself. It's really sweet - quite an accomplishment for a band such as ours."
  • As expected from Talking Heads, the visuals for this song are rather abstract. The official video, directed by Byrne, shows the band watching home movies, but these movies are a strange collection of hunters and cowboys. In the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, Byrne dances with a lamp during the song.
  • Recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, the music for this song came out of a jam session where the band switched instruments. Bass player Tina Weymouth ended up on rhythm guitar, keyboard player Jerry Harrison played keyboard bass, and David Byrne manned the Prophet-5 synthesizer, making the space-y sounds by turning the modulation wheel.
  • On the album version, which runs 4:56, the vocal doesn't come in until 1:04. The repeated refrain of the intro allows the listener to settle into the song, but poisons its hit potential. The single, which was delivered to radio stations and used in the video, cuts the intro down to 16 seconds and the song to 3:50.
  • Byrne said this was the first love song he ever wrote. "I didn't try to compromise this time and say 'love is nice'" he told The Face in 1983.
  • This song has made some intriguing appearances in movies. In the 1987 film Wall Street, it plays as Charlie Sheen's character gets his New York apartment decorated in the louche stylings of the newly rich. It's clear he's doing what's expected of him, but it's not necessarily what he wants. The song was also used in the 2010 sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

    It was also used in these films:

    Lars And The Real Girl (2007)
    Adopt A Sailor (2008)
    He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
    Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

    In 2011, Byrne appeared in a movie called This Must Be the Place, where he performs the song. The film stars Sean Penn as a rock star whose best days are behind him. In one scene, a kid asks Penn to play the song, but thinks it's by Arcade Fire.
  • In a sign of how well this song aged, Entertainment Weekly placed it at #46 in their 2005 list of the 50 Greatest Love Songs. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Racine - Truro, MA
  • This is one of several Talking Heads songs David Byrne included in his 2019 Broadway musical American Utopia, which was made into a movie the following year, directed by Spike Lee.

Comments: 13

  • Markantney from BiloxeJun 2015,

    To piggyback Wayne's WallStreet reference, it was also played (I believe in it's entirety) at the very end of the movie.

    Reason I remember,..I went out and bought it soonafter:)
  • Patrick from Atlanta, GaThis was not Byrne's first love song between him and an inanimate object. David wrote a lot about inanimate objects instead of traditional themes, such as love between a man and a woman.
  • Ken from San Mateo, CaSimple but cool song .classic David Byrne.
  • Brad from Long Island, NyStop Making Sense was perhaps the best live show i have ever seen. David will not even consider reuniting for a tour. Its a shame really
  • Bruno from Lima, PeruTalking Heads have many GREAT songs but this one is irresistible, my favourite
  • Greer from Rowayton, CtPossibly my favorite song ever. And speaking of movies, it was also used in the movie "Lars and The Real Girl."
  • Ben from Boise, IdIs it just me or is Donovan Frankenreiter's new song, "Your Heart" a total ripoff of this melody?
  • Dali from Zagreb, CroatiaI heard...not sure that is true...when Speaking in tongues was released...that this song is description of Byrne's feelings towards Laurie Anderson (now Lou Reeds wife) with whom (L.A.) he had short relationship at the time? Maybe it's just a gossip...because there is no mention of it in bio books of TH
  • Wayne from Crockett, TxThis song was also in the movie Wall Street during the decorating scene when the character Bud Fox starts making money and buys a highrise apartment. His girlfriend Darryl Hannah is an interior designer and she does the lavish decorating. This song fits the scene perfectly.
  • Zach Anderson from Medway, MaIn the song, the guitar and bass are playing the same thing. David Bryne said that only a naive and unprofessional musician woul do this, hence the title. Also, if you like the SCI version, check out Perpetual Groove's version. (Personal fav: 09/03/05 at the Orange Peel)
  • Katie from Washington, Vathis is a really sweet song, and alot of poeple covered it.
  • Brian from Staten Island, Nycovered by String Cheese Incident.. 12/31/05 at radio city music hall
  • Mike from Phoenix, AzIf you ever get a chance, listen to the re-make of this song by Shawn Colvin on her album "Cover Girl". Truly an amazing transformation. Listen to it and you'll see why this is a love song.
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