David Byrne goes Talking Heads with Richard Wagner

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 17 January 2013 | 8:35:00 pm

David Byrne, perhaps most famous as the founder of Talking Heads, discuses Wagner, his music, his history and his heritage over at his website "Journal" - or should that be his Internet journal? Anyway, while containing the odd arguable point, it offers a fairly balanced investigation of Wagner and his "influence" on the third Reich, anti-semitism, and more.  You may well not agree with all of it, for example when he compares Wagner to Celine Dion, Elton John, Cirque du Soleil in Vegas (although an intriguing argument on consideration), but its worth your time to give it a read. Plus, it gives us the excuse to add a video of "Once in a Lifetime"


"Though I view his hubris at insisting on a purpose-built venue as the exception as far as composers go, I realized while watching the doc that there are indeed recent equivalents—Celine Dion, Elton John, Cirque du Soleil, and a handful of other Vegas shows"


"Back to the question of whether or not we can allow ourselves to like someone’s work knowing they might be a despicable human being, hold abhorrent views, or possibly be a complete pervert. Do we care that Picasso may have been a bad father and mistreated all his wives? Not particularly—we tend to separate his work, or at least our judgement of its quality, from his private life. Do we care that the poet Elizabeth Bishop made excuses for the brutal dictatorship in Brazil? Does that invalidate her work? The composer Gesualdomurdered his wife. Mussorgsky was an alcoholic. The composer Henry Cowell went to prison for molesting young boys. Caravaggio killed a man over a game of tennis! And the contemporary painter John Currin goes against most of his peers and often espouses conservative Republican political views."


"Picasso’s “Guernica”—an act of political protest—is given high marks. But imagine if instead of depicting the pain and horror of the civilian bombing of a Spanish village, it depicted civilians being bombed by the Allies in Dresden or Berlin. The painting might not look all that different. Imagine what our architectural taste would be like if Hitler had decided to promote an industrial-inspired Bauhaus aesthetic rather than the romantic imperialism of Speer. Would modernism have been suddenly abandoned as a project?"



To read the full article please go to: Wagnerian Feelings