Authenticity and Thievery, part two

That discussion about authenticity and thievery continued on far into Monday night…

Thursday 10th January, 2018

That discussion about authenticity and thievery lasted late into Monday night. Lots of coffee and cake was consumed, many ideas and opinions were thrown around.

During these times, I watch for the moment when Luke has something important to say. The other Rockweather Guys and the SERL Gurls know about that moment too, often sensing it from the other side of the building. Dr Gen, Wallace and Gromit joined in quietly. Being born in 1822 means that you have had a long time to think about things. When Luke starts to nod, they all quieten down and listen.

“You know, lads, this copyright thing. It’s not hard to solve. It’s just that folks don’t think about it right. David Byrne, my mate from Talking Heads, now e’s got his head screwed on right about it. Or, e’ had last time I talked to im'”.

“Wait, you know David Byrne personally?” asked Jeremy, his eyes widening.

“Course I do, yeah, me an’ im’, was thick-as-thieves in the 70’s. E’ was fair chuffed’ when I called up a favor and got us all on the cover of Rolling Stone. Them was the glory days…”. His eyes started twinkling.

“Did you actually get to play in Talking Heads?” Bottomly asked.

“Yup, I did. I was their first bass player, before I got replaced by Tina Weymouth. Aww, I don’t begrudge her. She’s lovely, reminds me of Ada Lovelace. Smart lady is Tina…”

“Why did they replace you?” Dr Gen asked. “That is like being the Fifth Beatle..”

“Ah, well it was a management decision an’ I kind of agreed with them for me own safety. Once David started jumpin’ around on stage they wus worried that e’ was going to kill me by stomping on me. I’m only a little fella and I run around a bit meself on stage – we all did. The others he could see but unless he was looking down, I’m a bit hard to spot.”

There were roars of laughter from the team. “Fair go,” Luke continued. “At least they got a song out of it that me and David wrote.”

“Come on, no Luke.” Bottomly questioned. “You wrote a Talking Heads song? Really?”

Luke began humming then sang out in a clear, strong voice:

Psycho killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?
Fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, far better
Run, run, run, run, run, run away

Step on the gnome…
Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi, ooh no…”  
[Talking Heads, 1974]

The room went really quiet. “That was awesome, lad” Wallace sighed.

“Ahh, well, we got it to number 11 on the Dutch singles charts in 1977 but then nobody got to hear that it went to the top of the Serbian Gnome charts in December. That was me proudest moment…”

“Serbian Gnome charts” I chimed in. “Who else do the gnomes of Serbia listen to?.”

“You know them lads from ZZ-Top? They are right up there, year after flaming year… who’ed figure?”

“Wait…did’nt you know they wus gnomes? Love a duck – the’re tall ones mind you but they are really pure-bred gnomes. Ask yerself – how many other performers could grow beards as gorgeous as their ones? That’s all the proof ya need.”

“And while I’m on the subject, that bloke Peter Jackson missed a HUGE opportunity with them Hobbit movies of is’; dwarf heavy metal rock, I tell you, it could av’ been HUGE for im’ in Eastern Europe. They buy up CD’s, none of this copying for them – they is honest, is the gnomes…. piracy and copying ain’t something they do. An, while I’m on it, them CD’s is a lot easier to handle when you is short like we are. Those whopping great LP records used to be a menace to handle at parties…”

“Which bring me right back to why I started ravin’ on in the first place..”

“David explained it all to me one day back stage. E’ thinks a lot about this stuff. ‘What is music really?’ e’ would ask. Turns out it is kind of important to answer that question. [Byrne, 2007]

The room went quiet…

Luke began to speak in a soft voice: “First, let’s get something clear. In the past, music was something you went to hear, to experience. Before there wus recordings, there wus only live performance and sheet music. So you ad to go an’ pay to hear everything live or buy the music sheets to play at home yerself. They did’nt even av no photocopiers either.”

“For a while, when LP’s and singles came out, you could make a killing and still stay home. Radio’s paid royalties too. None of your streaming rubbish..”

“So, them modern performers as got to get it out of their heads, this ‘I’m getting ripped off‘. Times have changed. They should stop whingeing and go on tour. People pay to see their favourites and ya have ta go where the people is. Mozart did, Beethoven too, (but e’ was a bit before my time).”

“They need to give the recordings away and remember that they is performers first and last, not peddlers of plastic disks.”

“Any way, that’s what me and David thinks. Is there anymore of that carrot cake left, lads?”


Byrne, D, 2007. David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars. Available at

Talking Heads, 1974. Psycho Killer written by David Byrne, Luke
Berners-Lee, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth. Recorded on Talking Heads 77, released in December, 1977

Author: Rockweather

I am a writer, musician, teacher, and researcher at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand.

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