Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show host John Richards, is “Strange Overtones” by David Byrne and Brian Eno from the 2008 album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today on Todo Mundo.
For the dedicated fans who awaited a return to the magic that first occurred back in 1981 when Brian Eno and David Byrne created My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts together, the twenty seven years that have passed since could not have ended soon enough — and they almost never did end. But almost offhandedly, a new project began as a casual conversation over a dinner table in New York between the two visionaries, progressed separately thereafter (Eno on instrumentation and Byrne on vocals), and culminated as the 2008 album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Steeped in the heritage of American music, it burst forth this year laden with folklore and tales of dark and light, good and evil. Over the years, Eno discovered he was drawn to the gospel sounds that have been the unacknowledged backbone of our country’s music since the awakening of our independence, stating that the song “Surrender to His Will” by Reverend Maceo Woods and The Christian Tabernacle Choir was the first gospel song he “ever really responded to” while working with the Talking Heads on their previous album, More Songs about Buildings and Food. Considering Everything a sort of “electronic gospel,” Eno imbued the album with the spiritual and nurturing force that flows freely through its tracks. After a year of living with the pulsating, tribal vibrations that Eno had given shape and form, David Byrne was struck by the folk spirit these sounds contained and, with his head also filled with images of journeys within Africa after reading a David Eggers book (What Is the What?), he completed the first song, “One Fine Day.” The tone for the album was set. Song by song, the duo created the rest in a similar fashion, Eno’s music first, then Byrne’s lyrics. The end result is something new and not new, a brilliant product by two creative forces that could not have been achieved by one without the other.
Starting in January, David Byrne will be touring the songs of Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, first in Hong Kong, then across the Pacific, through Japan and Australia, and eventually winding his way through the United States. Seattle listeners should pick up their tickets now for the February 18 show at Benaroya Hall. Other dates and a lot more information is available at David Byrne’s website. For now, here’s a short film of “Strange Overtones” by Jon Yeo: