This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)

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"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)"
This Must Be the Place.jpg
Single by Talking Heads
from the album Speaking in Tongues
B-side"Moon Rocks"
ReleasedNovember 1983[1]
GenreNew wave
Producer(s)Talking Heads
Talking Heads singles chronology
"Burning Down the House"
"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)"
"Slippery People"
"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" on YouTube

"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" is a song by new wave band Talking Heads, released in November 1983 as the second single from their fifth album Speaking in Tongues. The lyrics were written by David Byrne, and the music was written by Byrne and the other members of the band, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison.


In the "Self Interview" on the DVD of the concert film Stop Making Sense, Byrne states that it is a love song, a topic he tends to avoid because it is "kinda big." He also said of the song:[3]

That's a love song made up almost completely of non sequiturs, phrases that may have a strong emotional resonance but don't have any narrative qualities. It's a real honest kind of love song. I don't think I've ever done a real love song before. Mine always had a sort of reservation, or a twist. I tried to write one that wasn't corny, that didn't sound stupid or lame the way many do. I think I succeeded; I was pretty happy with that.

According to the Stop Making Sense commentary track, the title "Naive Melody" refers to the music. On the recording, the guitar and bass each repeat an ostinato for the entire song. According to David Byrne, many professional musicians would not play a song written in that fashion, and that is what makes the melody naive. Byrne played the lead keyboard solo.[citation needed]

Bassist Tina Weymouth stated in the liner notes of Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads that the song was created through "truly naive" experimentation with different instruments and jamming. Weymouth played guitar, guitarist Jerry Harrison played a Prophet synthesiser (including the bassline) Wally Badarou used the same synthesizer to add the stabs, and Byrne switched between guitar and another Prophet synthesizer, the latter of which he played using the pitch modulation wheel and "campy" piano glissandos.[citation needed]

Pitchfork later described the song as "an aberration for the Talking Heads, it was more of an exercise in understated musical hypnosis than polyrhythmic, Kuti-quoting funk, well-compressed instead of bursting at the seams, and (in its abashed way) it was a full-blown love song. [..] With "This Must Be the Place", the band simplified their sound dramatically, condensing their sonic palette to the level of small EKG blips (having switched instruments for a lark, this was nearly all they were able to reliably deliver chops-wise) and wringing out only a few chords."[4]

Stop Making Sense[edit]

The song is featured in Stop Making Sense (1984), a concert film featuring Talking Heads and directed by Jonathan Demme. Throughout the Stop Making Sense version, Byrne and his bandmates perform by a standard lamp, while close-up images of various body parts are projected onto a screen behind them; as revealed on the commentary to the film, the body parts belong to Byrne and his girlfriend (later wife) Adelle Lutz who was also known as Bonnie. When the song reaches a bridge, the musicians step back and Byrne dances with the lamp, a reference to Fred Astaire's similar dance with a coat-rack in the film Royal Wedding. During the song, Weymouth is seen playing a rare Fender Swinger electric guitar, instead of her usual bass.

The Stop Making Sense version was released as single in 1986, peaking at #100 on the UK Singles Chart.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

In 2014, Pitchfork ranked the song at number 22 in their list of "The 200 Best Songs of the 1980s," with Winston Cook-Wilson of the website saying: "In the process of stripping down, Talking Heads showcased something at the root of their art: David Byrne’s inimitable gift for melody, and his unique ability to make every musical figure seem both familiar and tied directly to the lyrical thought (see 'I feel numb...born with a weak heart/ I guess I must be having fun'). Is there a better moment of catharsis in a pop then the song's final eureka realization, after Byrne gets whacked with the monolithic spiritual hammer and awakes from a life-encompassing daze into unexpected stability? There’s nothing to narrow his eyes at anymore: 'Cover up the blank spots, hit me on the head/ Aaoooh, aaooh, aaooh, aaoooh.' For a band rarely given to addressing issues of the heart head-on, 'Naive Melody' remains an unexpected and peerless achievement."[6]

Music video[edit]

The music video depicts the band members and their session musicians watching light-hearted home movies, before going down into the basement and playing their instruments.

In other media[edit]


Independent musician Miles Fisher covered the song on his self-titled 2009 EP, Miles Fisher; the music video is an homage to the 2000 film American Psycho, with Fisher imitating Christian Bale's performance as Patrick Bateman.

Alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California The Daylights covered the song in their 2012 EP, Modern Fossils.

The song was covered live by the Montreal-based band Arcade Fire, and is featured as the B-side to their single "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)", their version features David Byrne on guest vocals.

Shawn Colvin performed the song on her third album, Cover Girl.

The String Cheese Incident covers the song, including on their 2002 "On The Road" album.

The Lumineers have covered the song, including it in the deluxe edition of their self titled debut album.

Kishi Bashi released a cover of the song in 2013 on the album, 7" Box Set; this version also appears on the Gold soundtrack.

Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses performed the song on their covers album Sing into My Mouth; the album's title is from a lyric in the song.

Sure Sure covers this song on their self-titled 2018 debut album.


Original version
Chart (1983) Peak
UK Singles Chart[5] 51
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 62
Live version
Chart (1986) Peak
UK Singles Chart[5] 100


  1. ^
  2. ^ ASCAP entry for song
  3. ^ Talking Heads The Band & Their Music, page 113, David Gans ISBN 0-7119-0980-6
  4. ^ "The 200 Best Songs of the 1980s". Pitchfork. August 24, 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "The Official Charts Company - Talking Heads". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  6. ^ "The 200 Best Songs of the 1980s". Pitchfork. August 24, 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Talking Heads > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 August 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]