I really wanted to like this book. And Chris Frantz. I pre-ordered it, because I read promo interviews with CF who sounded like such a nice guy and hey – he’s a successful musician in a band I love, he’s stayed married to the bass player and if he’s got a few gripes with the lead singer – well what’s new?
As the subtitle to Remain In Love says it’s a rock ’n roll love story – Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina (Weymouth, in case you’ve got this far and don’t know who I’m talking about)
And it’s all beautiful. He’s a kid from Kentucky, Dad’s in the army, he discovers Marvin Gaye and black music, finds his way into a band, but also he’s an art student, and ends up at the Rhode Island School Of Design, where he meets the aforementioned Tina W and the devil in the detail, David Byrne.
It turns out (according to CF) that he and Tina wrote Psycho Killer. And a few other early hits. It took a while for DB to credit them (heard this story before?) And don’t mention Brian Eno, who doesn’t get a good rap here.
Then there’s the New York scene in the late seventies, CBGBs, The Ramones, Blondie, all lovingly described. The thing is, every now and then, in between these first hand stories of a legendary music scene, there are little anecdotes about David Byrne, and folks, they’re not complimentary.
I loved the first Talking Heads album, and the second. I especially liked the lyrics, and I’m not generally a lyrics person. But the songs about “my friends are important” and so on resonated with me. Now I learn that DB was/is on the autistic spectrum. It figures, but back when I heard those lyrics they were refreshing for me to hear.
Much of the book is taken up with rock star stories – flew to Paris, did the gig, met Bowie backstage etc. But there’s also a couple of great chapters about Tom Tom Club and working at Compass Point in The Bahamas.
And stories of excess, of course. It takes CF until the final couple of chapters to admit that he had a problem with cocaine and that Tina threatened to leave him if he didn’t clean up. Which one assumes he did.
I think Chris Frantz has lead something of a charmed life, and he does kind of admit this – middle class upbringing, supportive parents, a bit of luck when Talking Heads started, and he’s an excellent musician.
It made me go back to the TH albums, and that music is all so wonderful
Length of Read:Long
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Tom Tom Club
The whole New York scene in the late seventies
One thing you’ve learned
Nothing new – people are not what they seem!