(This text is reproduced as it originally appeared as posted by Martin Schneider in the blog Dangerous Minds. )
Oh what a time it must have been on Manhattan’s Bond Street in the mid-1970s. Bond Street connects Broadway and the Bowery exactly where CBGB’s used to be, and a lot of cool folks used to live there when it was still considered a pretty sketchy part of town—before NYU moved in. Today Bond Street is mostly known for very expensive co-ops.
David Byrne used to live at 52 Bond Street back in the day, just a few steps away from CBGB’s. He crashed with an old RISD buddy of his, an artist named Jamie Dalglish. Dalglish was and is a painter but at that time he was obsessed with video. In 1975 he had the idea of a video art project that would consist entirely of interviews. The idea was that Dalglish would compile hours and hours of footage of his artist friends talking with Byrne—but Byrne would be offscreen the entire time. The name of the project was “Talking Heads.”
As David Bowman relates in his book on Talking Heads (meaning the band, not the video project):
But back in 1974, Dalglish spent most of his energy on ideas about video as a replacement for language. At year’s end, Dalglish would undertake a massive seven-and-a-half-hour video consisting of more talking than images. It would be composed of fifteen static shots of fifteen different people sitting in a chair listening to David Byrne.
David was talking—jabbering actually—performing a stream-of-consciousness dialogue off-camera. Tina said, “The tape was David spouting off what other people thought. Memorizing anecdotes and advertisements from TV. Things that he’d heard other people say.”
This video disappeared years ago and has become the Holy Grail of Talking Heads research. Dalglish is convinced that Talking Heads manager Gary Kurfirst has it. Kurfirst says he doesn’t know what Dalglish is talking about.
I’m not a private detective or anything, but to me it sure sounds like those tapes are lost for good, fellas.
As Byrne blandly tells it in his 2012 book How Music Works, “In the mid-seventies I was offered room and board in New York by a painter, Jamie Dalglish, who let me sleep on his loft floor in return for help renovating the place. This was on Bond Street, almost right across from CBGB, where Patti Smith would read occasionally while Lenny Kaye accompanied her on guitar.” And that’s the last we ever hear about Dalglish—and no word at all about Dalglish’s “Talking Heads” video project.
Here’s a little more about Bond Street, taken from a 2007 article in the New York Observer—the whole thing is worth a read:
My other neighbors included a struggling and somewhat unstable artist, an ex of David Byrne’s, and a lesbian novelist who would later publish to considerable acclaim but who then worked at a rickety table I could see out my window, where she’d gently masturbate with one hand and hunt-and-peck type with the other. Our doormen were typically prone and pungent skid-row types. There were several Bowery hotels, a.k.a. flophouses, nearby, but no Bowery Hotel, and certainly no trendy restaurants.
The only semblance of uptown chic arrived with visitors slumming at CBGB. Which may be why, after Talking Heads shows, David Byrne would escape to visit my downstairs neighbor, a fellow Rhode Island School of Design grad, [this is almost certainly Dalglish—Ed.] while Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, who shared a cold-water loft on Chrystie Street, would come to my place for hot showers and quick pick-me-ups.
The full “Talking Heads” videos appear to be lost, but you can see four short snippets to get a taste of the whole thing. Here Byrne and artist Jeff Koons discuss authenticity in music, working in a key reference to The Bob Newhart Show:
David Byrne / Jeff Koons:
David Byrne / Jeff Turtletaub:
David Byrne / Chris Frantz:
David Byrne / Vito Acconci: