Talking Heads’ fourth studio album is an effort seen by many as the one that left them poised and ready for full-fledged mainstream success. And you may ask yourself, “How did they get here?” Well, you can probably attribute most of it to the fact that the members of the band had taken a break before starting the album.
After wrapping up the band’s tour behind 1979’s Fear of Music, David Byrne indulged his experimental side by teaming with Brian Eno to record My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Jerry Harrison produced an album for Nona Hendryx, and Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth – the married couple of the band – took a vacation in the Caribbean. While they were there, they decided to buy an apartment above Compass Point Studios in Nassau, and before long all four members had reunited in the Bahamas to discuss the future of Talking Heads. In an attempt to make music that felt more collaborative, they began having instrumental jam sessions and recording the results. When Eno heard them, he liked their new musical direction and agreed to helm the new album.
The end result, Remain in Light, which took African rhythms and incorporated them into the band’s already-eclectic sound, was one of the best received albums in Talking Heads’ entire catalog, turning up on tons of top-10 lists at the end of the year – often in the very top spot – and never fails to appear in most magazines’ all-time best lists. Oddly enough, the album failed to make much headway on the charts with its singles, but even though it only just bubbled under the Hot 100, it’s fair to say that “Once in a Lifetime” still ended up a winner: it’s on any fan’s shortlist of signature Talking Heads songs.