David Byrne inspired by dictator's wife
By Steve Hargrave
26 March 2010
Forget the jokes about sole music. David Byrne has made an album about about Imelda Marcos, but he doesn't mention her shoes at all.
The former Talking Heads frontman has written 22 songs tracing the early years of the infamous former first lady of the Philippines and wife of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
"A number of people thought it was a strange idea, and some people thought it was a real bad idea," Byrne explained when Sky News sat down with him to talk about the concept.
"They thought that somehow it was glorifying an evil person.
"The nasty stuff she did is hinted at, and occasionally her character gives justifications for it. That's different from me justifying it."
The album is a collaboration between Byrne, and DJ Fatboy Slim - aka Norman Cook, who Byrne turned to after he found out Marcos herself was a fan of the dance music of the late Seventies and early Eighties.
"She used to love going to clubs like Studio 54" Byrne said.
"And she had a town house in New York and converted one floor into a disco with a mirror ball, not many of us have that!"
Byrne and Cook's album is sung primarily by female singers, including Florence And The Machine, Cyndi Lauper and Tori Amos.
Byrne sings on only two of the tracks. He says stories about Marcos herself wanting to sing some songs herself, are sadly just rumours.
"I was in the Philippines, and people said you guys should meet, but she had flu that week.
"She may have liked some of the songs, but I've heard her singing voice is not what it used to be."
But what about those shoes? The famous myth states that Marcos horded about three thousand pairs before she fled her palace, but Byrne fails to mention them for a reason.
"I think the shoes may turn her into a one note joke that everybody knows already," Byrne smiled.
"So this gives me an excuse to not mention it apart from one song, where as a child she didn't have any shoes."
So there you have it, the once in a lifetime artist proved once again that he's more than willing to step up to the mark-os.
But before he went there was just one more thing, surely it had been at least five minutes since anyone asked him that boring question if Talking Heads are getting back together?
"Yes, yes" Byrne laughed, "actually the last interviewer didn't ask that. But No Talking Heads are not going to get together any time soon!"
Same as it ever was then.