Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Irreligious Song #11: Talking Heads, “Road to Nowhere”

Posted by dsc01 on November 23, 2010

Not being a huge Talking Heads fan (though I do respect their work), I can’t say that this song is necessarily about death being the end. It sure seems like it, though, and I love that the tone of the song is so happy. I hate it when people frame death as such a negative thing. I know that the church-choir-like intro was actually added only because David Byrne thought that the song was embarrassingly simple, but I like to think of it as setting the song up as a secular hymn.

WELL WE KNOW WHERE WE’RE GOIN’
BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHERE WE’VE BEEN
AND WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE KNOWIN’
BUT WE CAN’T SAY WHAT WE’VE SEEN
AND WE’RE NOT LITTLE CHILDREN
AND WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT
AND THE FUTURE IS CERTAIN
GIVE US TIME TO WORK IT OUT

We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride

I’m feelin’ okay this mornin’
And you know,
We’re on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go

CHORUS

Maybe you wonder where you are
I don’t care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there…take you there

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere

There’s a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
and it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

And it’s very far away
But it’s growing day by day
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

They can tell you what to do
But they’ll make a fool of you
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

We’re on a road to nowhere

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16 Responses to “Irreligious Song #11: Talking Heads, “Road to Nowhere””

  1. Paulo said

    Never seen this video before, thanks for putting it up! Love the Talking Heads, love the imagery in the video. (I’m serious–I love pop music, the 80s, all that). There is still so much stuff from way back that I haven’t seen. One advantage to being brought up overseas: I get the pleasure of discovering “new” stuff all the time!

    • dsc01 said

      I know what you mean. It took me a couple of years to get over the habit of immediately assuming that I wouldn’t be able to, say, see a movie I saw advertised until so much time had gone by that I had probably lost interest in the subject matter.

      It finally sunk in that I could just go to the video store and rent the movie whose video release I just saw advertised.

    • Ann said

      I’m not ashamed to say I love pop music too. For a long time, I hate to admit, I was very, very ashamed that I liked it so much. Seriously! Now I realize it’s good and fun music and I think it’s funny when people bash it like their taste is superior (your taste takes you nowhere too). hahahaha! Taste is individual, so of course some pop I don’t like at all. 80’s happens to be my favorite. Listened to it in the 80s, 90s, and still do…although I’d never seen this video but heard the song. Ditto Paulo–fun imagery. I like the guy with the shopping cart going down the road and stuff. Consumerism is especially taking you nowhere! Oh, oh, and liked the box head!

      • Paulo said

        I like the part (1:01) where they fast forward the couple’s whole life from being young and in love, getting married, having a baby, then the baby girl grows up, wears spiky hair and shades, wanders off rebelliously, leaving the couple to grow older and older. Brilliant!

  2. JN said

    This video is really reminding me of Bill Nye the Science Guy.

    P.S. Everyone is sounding like the Talking Heads these days.

    • dsc01 said

      Who sounds like the Talking Heads these days? Or are you referring to, “David Byrne thought that the song was embarrassingly simple”?

      • JN said

        I almost thought this was the Talking Heads when I heard it on the radio:

        Here are some other examples:



        The 80s have definitely been making waves again. You children of the 80s will either be in heaven or hell, depending on whether or not you think anything can live up to the good old days.

        • JN said

          I’m not sure why these didn’t embed properly.

        • Jesus said

          As a child of the 80s, I’m in semi-heaven/semi-hell. I liked a lot of the post-punk revival stuff like The Killers, The Hives, etc. when they first came out. Then, it got old real quick. It’s only ever good if bands do something new with the sound they’re ripping off, and many of those bands are too derivative. The Killers actually got worse when they tried to be less derivative–go figure.

          • JN said

            I never liked the Killers. I got into the Strokes a bit when “Is This It” first came out. But those bands have both been around for like 10 years. There is a lot of newer stuff that reflects the 80s. Music seems to be getting a bit quirkier, which is a good thing in my opinion.

            Neil Young also seems to be sneaking back into music. Parts of Arcade Fire’s new album sounds Neil Young-ish to me, but not too much. I’ve heard other bands on the radio that seem to have ripped a thing or two from the old man. Neil Young still sounds like himself, even if he’s had more strikes than home runs in recent years.

            Despite our best attempts to be original, we’re all riffing off something else. Like you said, the key is to bring something fresh to the table. That first song I posted, really doesn’t succeed.

        • JN said

          That Suckers song really sounds like a mash-up of Talking Heads and Modest Mouse.

          • JN said

            The White Lies song doesn’t really belong in that post either. It doesn’t sound like Talking Heads. I must have pasted the wrong thing. My internet is all screwy and slow today. Here is a better example:

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