Music Geek-Out #8: Talking Heads “Psycho Killer”

Not only is this song a classic in the Modern Rock canon, it also has some specific significance in my grad school experience, and it plays nicely off one of the first songs in the “dance party” portion of the evening (Tiga’s “Burning Down the House,” which is a cover of a Talking Heads track). I wanted to pick a Talking Heads track as the first in the “awesome female bassist” subsection of the playlist (Kim Deal will be on the next two tracks).  Tina Weymouth is amazing, and I definitely wanted to feature her work at a feminist conference; I thought people would be more familiar with Talking Heads than with Tom Tom Club, so I chose this song (though, I did consider Chicks on Speed’s Wordy Rappinghood, which is a reworking of TTC’s original, which would pair nicely with some Slits, actually.)

So, for most of my teens and early twenties, I had no idea what half of what David Byrne was mumbling in this track: “Psycho Killer garblegarblegarble huh?”. Then, when Heather Ross and I were taking a French class at DePaul (to prep for our translation exams), we learned the phrase “Qu’est-que c’est?”, and spent the whole class period talking about this song, and how it suddenly made a lot more sense. So, given that this was a continental feminist conference I was playing for, and that the theme was “Translation,” this seemed like a particularly appropriate choice for the venue.