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Flashback Video: 'Wild Wild Life' by Talking Heads

Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another. This issue we will cover "Wild Wild Life" by Talking Heads. This song was the lead single from their True Stories album released in the Fall of 1986. It became the band's third and final Top 40 single after peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December. The album and thus the song were from the film True Stories which was directed and co-written by Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne. The film is presented as a series of vignettes centered around Byrne as an unnamed, cowboy-hat-wearing stranger who visits the fictional town of Virgil, Texas. The film was not all that well received, but the album and the song were much more successful thanks in part to MTV and the "Wild Wild Life" music video. The early MTV audience was already familiar with Talking Heads from their hugely popular "Once In a Lifetime" video from 1981. The music video for "Wild Wild Life" is set in a '60s styled cabaret bar, where citizens of Virgil lip sync to the song, some imitating popular singers as disjointed images play across a wall of video screens behind them. Some of the citizens are played by bandmembers from Talking Heads. Byrne let them choose their own costumes. Keyboardist Jerry Harrison parodied Billy Idol, Kid Creole, The Karate Kid and Prince. Bassist Tina Weymouth parodied Madonna and Apollonia among others. Drummer Chris Frantz does a rocker like Ozzy Osbourne, Hank Williams and a Lakers fan possibly Jack Nicholson. It is reported that they all had a lot of fun making this video. Actor John Goodman, prior to his fame in the sitcom Roseanne but after he played the football coach in Revenge of the Nerds, appeared in both the film and the music video. He is quite entertaining as one of the energetic lip sync performers and is one of my favorite parts of the video. Here is the music video for "Wild Wild Life" by Talking Heads...

At the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, "Wild Wild Life" was nominated for three awards and won two including "Best Group Video". Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!

1 Comment

Great stuff. I love The Talking Heads, though admittedly haven't listened to their entire catalogue. Nice background on the video.

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