Song Lyric Sunday — Burning Down the House

Jim Adams chose “Burn/Fire/Flame” for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme. There a probably hundreds of songs about burn, fire, and flame, but the one I ended up choosing is “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads.

“Burning Down the House” was released in July 1983 as the first single from the band’s fifth studio album, Speaking in Tongues. The song became Talking Heads’ biggest hit single in the U.S., peaking at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Writing credit goes to Chris Frantz, Christopher Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth.

Chris Frantz, the drummer for the Talking Heads drummer was inspired to help write this song when he went to a P-Funk show in New York City. He heard the crowd imploring the band to “Burn Down The House” and got the idea for his song’s title. Frantz and Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth, who was also his wife, created the original track in a jam, then took it to the band where they refined it. To form the lyrics, they picked words that fit the rhythms, which is why the words don’t make a lot of sense. This is common practice in the world of Funk, where you don’t want the lyrics to get in the way of the “groove” on a feel good song.

In an interview, David Byrne said that fire represents the process of psychological transformation, so burning down the house is destroying one personality and creating another one.

Here are the song’s lyrics.

Watch out, you might get what you’re after
Cool babies, strange but not a stranger
I’m an ordinary guy
Burning down the house

Hold tight
Wait ’til the party’s over
Hold tight
We’re in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down the house

Here’s your ticket pack your bags
Time for jumpin’ overboard
The transportation is here
Close enough but not too far,
Maybe you know where you are
Fightin’ fire with fire

All wet, hey, you might need a raincoat
Shakedown, dreams walking in broad daylight
Three hundred sixty five degrees
Burning down the house

It was once upon a place,
Sometimes I listen to myself
Gonna come in first place
People on their way to work,
Baby, what did you expect?
Gonna burst into flame

Burning down the house

My house’s out of the ordinary
That’s right
Don’t want to hurt nobody
Some things sure can sweep me off my feet
Burning down the house

No visible means of support
And you have not seen nothin’ yet
Everything’s stuck together
And I don’t know what you expect
Staring into the TV set
Fighting fire with fire

27 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Burning Down the House

  1. DailyMusings April 7, 2019 / 3:45 am

    Great choice! Took me back to my days seeing Talking Heads at CBGB’s in NYC.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 7, 2019 / 7:28 am

      Thanks. I haven’t heard or thought about that song in years, but it seemed to fit Jim’s prompt today.


  2. newepicauthor April 7, 2019 / 7:04 am

    I have always liked the Talking Heads and I love this song. I think that it is always a good idea to “Wait ’til the party’s over”, before you start Burning Down The House.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Renard Moreau April 7, 2019 / 8:26 am

    🙂 Fandango, that happens to be one of my favourite songs from the eighties-period.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. msjadeli April 7, 2019 / 9:30 am

    Superior music with an always entertaining video. Great choice, Fandango.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marleen April 7, 2019 / 10:18 am

    David Byrne is good live in concert to this day… puts together a good show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen April 7, 2019 / 11:14 pm

      I saw him in 2018, actually. I have no idea what he’s doing today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fandango April 7, 2019 / 11:21 pm

        I saw David Byrne recently as a musical guest on one of the late night shows, but I can’t remember which one.


        • Marleen April 7, 2019 / 11:46 pm

          What did you think of that?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Fandango April 8, 2019 / 7:35 am

            He was good, but had gray hair. I guess that happens to all of us, huh. Either that or no hair.


            • Marleen April 8, 2019 / 11:42 am

              Grey hair or white hair. I actually like white hair.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Felicia Denise April 7, 2019 / 1:19 pm

    This is the one the mister wanted me to post. He STILL has it on his playlist! 😁 Nice pick!

    Liked by 1 person

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