The Catherine Wheel

I fell behind this week—thank our surprising April snow. So this is being posted on Wednesday and I’ll catch up.

David Byrne’s The Catherine Wheel is one of those works that pulled me all the way into pop music. If I had heard of Byrne or the Talking Heads before, it was picking up Remain in Light or hearing “Once in a Lifetime” on the radio. Then my friend Catherine gave me a mix tape that had “Combat” on it. I had to find more.

I turned up a copy of the CD after some searching (this was the early 1990s) and was hooked. I put “Ade” on a mix tape myself. And then I kind of forgot about it.

I went back last week and started listening to the album with new ears. It’s still amazing after all these years. A lot of insane Adrian Belew guitar, yes, but also some really crazy Bernie Worrell keyboard, and those drums…

And then there’s the performance context. The Catherine Wheel was composed as a ballet score for Twyla Tharp, and the video above has the whole blessed thing. I don’t know enough about modern dance to know if this is any good, but it pushes a lot of the same buttons for me that Home of the Brave does, and that’s a good thing. So enjoy.

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