David Byrne and St Vincent on Letterman

David Byrne and St Vincent appeared on the David Letterman show this week to perform "I Should Watch TV" (a deliciously ironic choice, given the song's content) from their amazing album Love This Giant, which is my favorite new music in years. The stage performance is amazing, too.

David Byrne & St. Vincent - I Should Watch TV - David Letterman 1-28-13


  1. This comes off more as “David Byrne with Anonymous Backing Band” – is St Vincent the name of his current group? – Byrne is at his prime here, what a great showman! – wish he would stick more with music and go easy on the bicycles and blogs – in my view, he’s never worn the Renaissance Man cloak very well – he’ll always be the jerking dude in the “Once In A Lifetime” video to me. I wonder how many times a week Byrne gets accosted by crazies who start singing the lyrics to “Psycho Killer” to him? Probably many times.

    1.  I dunno, I love the bicycling book. 

      Also, like every former and current high school tuba player, I’m geeking out on the sousaphone in the backup band. It’s not often you see one on network television and really not often in a pop song.

      1. The tuba has much going against it – it’s heavy – you have to screw the bell on to the body every time you need to play it – it creates ounces and ounces of dirty, brassy saliva during every performance – plus it has a sad, horribly stigmatized reputation because of its direct relationship to POLKA music – plus, if one drops the mouthpiece of a tuba, one could break one’s foot (those things weigh a ton) – every tuba player I’ve seen outside of the polka genre wears a vest. It’s required in order to maintain a certain post-Radiohead mystique

          1. Having played a tuba for 6 years, I can attest that it’s saliva – that’s why the little spring-loaded release caps are called “spit valves” – the embouchure for a tuba is quite wide and loose, it’s basically as if you’re salivating and even drooling into the mouthpiece (especially after playing intently for a while – lips and tongue can become numb). With a tuba, you can allow the saliva to collect for quite long periods (in elbow pipes) before opening one or two spit valves. With smaller instruments such as the trumpet, the spit valves are sometimes operated many times within one musical piece. You probably never want to go barefoot when you’re in a concert band!

            I guess what comes out of tuba spit valves could mistakenly be called “condensation” but the condensation sure has plenty of tongue and lip-borne saliva attached to it.

          2. Sorry, but as a professional tuba player of 25+ years, I have to correct you on this. On a hot day, when none of the moisture from your breath condenses against the cold tubing, no water is released through the ‘spit valve’, which is actually called a water key. The consistency is definitely that of water — it runs out of the water key, it doesn’t drool out. Plus, the amount you release on a cold day is far far more than any human salivary gland could produce. Plus, you release condensation from crooks right through the instrument, and sometimes through the bell itself. Saliva can’t possibly travel that far. You get a little saliva in the mouthpiece, but that’s about it. If you’re spitting into the instrument that much, you’re doing it wrong.  

        1. I think there is a brass renaissance happening lately with the Honk radical marching band scene and every earnest folk punk pop group turning to concert instruments that everyone learned in school. Tuba Christmas concerts are getting bigger every year and I keep getting forwarded news articles about sousaphone theft rings in Southern CA. Tubas are nerdy cool with people doing amazing paint jobs and mods to the bells and seeking out more rare helicons and alto horns. 

          At Honk I think a good portion of what comes out of spit valves is backwash from flasks and probably flammable. We have a spittoon for band practice at home after being asked not to use the potted plants anymore.

    2. St. Vincent is the women standing next to him playing guitar.  Her solo work is quite good and worth checking out, as is the rest of this album.  

    3. As mentioned by someone else St Vincent is the girl standing beside him and has her own musical career. This most recent album, they tend to take turns on who takes leads on vocals. With the occasional song where it really jumps and back and forth between them. Obviously this is one of the songs that he takes lead vocals and she just does the occasional back-up vocals.

  2. OMG that was so badass. Enthralled. Byrne brings it! That dude is timeless! The brass composition is genius.

  3. We had the pleasure of seeing Byrne & St Vincent in concert on this album’s tour at their stop in ATX. The Letterman show performance represented ~10% of the quality of a live show. In concert this group of brass players are amazing. And hearing the way the group has arranged familiar Talking Heads music was stunning! They did ‘Burning Down The House’ as an encore and blew the capacity crowd away.

  4. Confession time.  I’ve spent 30 years trying to ‘get’ Byrne and like his music.  I can’t do it.  I feel like I’m missing something.  I wish I weren’t, but I am.

    1. I’m with you.  I love the guy’s stage presence and have the utmost respect for the effort and artistry he puts into his music and other projects.  He truly seems like an awesome guy on so many levels.  But 95% of his output just doesn’t do anything for me either.

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