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Same As It Ever Was

Richard needed a musical jump-start recently. He found it in an old favorite.By Richard Sceiford

Wilmington NC – [Click the Listen button to hear Richard's commentary.]

It was several weeks ago, things were glum and I needed a re-charge. The usual situation: a day ahead of me with too much to do and not enough time and, to be honest, not enough energy. On my sweep through the house that morning ?along with the pocket items, coffee mug and book bag?I had the wisdom to impulsively grab the one thing that would fuel my day?s campaign. Something that would up the ante a little as I prepared myself during the drive to work to get it on and get it all done with.

It was a music album that I hadn?t listened to for at least a few years. We all have --or should have-- one single album of music so potent no matter how old that it instantly dispels the rain and crosses time. A weapon so pure and potent that it never fails. The CD was ?Remain in Light,? released in 1980 as the second album by a group called the Talking Heads. When I first laid ears upon it, it was an epiphany.

It was fall 1981 and I was a freshman at the University of Rochester in upper-state New York. There I was with newly-made friends who hailed from big cities or places much more sophisticated than my farming hometown. The rock music I had listened to back home fell into two categories: geek, as in Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or pick-up truck. This was something different. At one point, I remember finding myself on the receiving end of a highly energetic and I remember thinking hugely profound discourse by a guy who claimed to be a grad student in psychology. His explanation of the music could only have been helped along by the particular kind of smoke that filled the room.

The Talking Heads opened a connection for me to a form of alternative music called New Wave. Some of it deep and dark, some of it jangly, all of it very urban. Soon, I donned the de rigueur long black trench coat pillaged from the Salvation Army and began sporting a spiked haircut a la Sting, the lead singer for another rock band, The Police. I wasn?t trying to be punk ? Sting was more suave than punk?just appropriately on the fringe.

Now middle-aged I must declare ?as have all aging men who have come before me?they just don?t make music they way they used to. The Talking Heads would go one to record many more albums, each as strong as the previous one, and individual band members launched successful careers of their own. Lead singer David Byrne continues to explore all kinds of music.

But on this one day a few weeks ago, this album by the Talking Heads was the one to do the job at hand. By the time I arrived at work I was invigorated and in control. I had found my soundtrack and this day would be my movie.

Rich Sceiford lives and writes in Wilmington.