Revenge of the Nerds Pt.2

Another staple of the pre-MTV video scene, “Once In A Lifetime” is arguably Talking Heads’ best-known and best song. Of course MTV dropped the video into heavy rotation pretty much from day one, making it hard to believe now that “Once In A Lifetime” got next to no radio airplay at the time and never dented the Billboard pop charts. The elements are as singular and arresting today as in 1981: David Byrne’s twitchy and convulsive “dance” (choreographed by Toni Basil of “Mickey” fame), the searching and vaguely existential lyrics (including phrases lifted from radio/TV preachers), the fluid and funky backbeat (inspired by Hamilton Bohannon’s rolling disco grooves). As a devoted swimmer I totally relate to the aquatic theme – “water flowing underground” = life progressing along unpredictable and barely detectable currents. And as a middle-aged man I lately find myself wondering how did I get here? And how did young David Byrne stumble onto something so profound and well, elemental? Apparently “Once In A Lifetime” is something of an anthem among hydrogeologists as well.


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