Hear the Little-Known Version of the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” With Experimental Cellist Arthur Russell

Giv­en his ever-grow­ing posthu­mous pop­u­lar­i­ty, fueled by mate­r­i­al new­ly dis­cov­ered, released, and re-released, we might call Arthur Rus­sell the 2Pac of exper­i­men­tal dis­co cel­lo.  Dur­ing his short life, he man­aged to col­lab­o­rate with the likes of Philip Glass, Nicky Siano, Wal­ter Gib­bons, and even David Byrne. A lit­tle-heard ver­sion of the Talk­ing Heads’ “Psy­cho Killer” fea­tur­ing Rus­sel­l’s cel­lo has recent­ly resur­faced (above), to the delight of both Heads fans intrigued to hear one more slant on a favorite song and lis­ten­ers new­ly intrigued by Rus­sell look­ing to hear how his sound inter­faced with the inno­v­a­tive pop music of his day.

In the clip just above, you can hear Byrne dis­cuss the col­lab­o­ra­tive devel­op­ment of “Psy­cho Killer” (albeit well before the record­ing of this B‑side with Rus­sell) at a Q&A ses­sion on his How Music Works book tour. Unbe­liev­ably, the song first emerged as a bal­lad. “I can see the song as being soft­er,” he says. “I’m mak­ing it aggres­sive-sound­ing and thought, ‘That’s like say­ing the same thing twice.’ Which the singer of the song says you should­n’t do. I thought it would be creepi­er, actu­al­ly scari­er, if you down­play it. But, you know, we had a rock band at the time; we got togeth­er, start­ed play­ing it, and that’s not how it came out. Audi­ences liked the big cho­rus every­one could sing along with.” I imag­ine they also would’ve liked the big string instru­ment Rus­sell would have brought up on stage, had he ever had the chance to join the Heads for a live per­for­mance.

via Twen­ty­Four­Bit

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Talk­ing Heads Play CBGB, the New York Club that Shaped Their Sound (1975)

How David Byrne and Bri­an Eno Make Music Togeth­er: A Short Doc­u­men­tary

David Byrne Gives Us the Low­down on How Music Works (with Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Daniel Lev­itin)

David Byrne: How Archi­tec­ture Helped Music Evolve

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les PrimerFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (2)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.