Friday, February 14, 2020

"I Zimbra" anticipates a new direction for Talking Heads

Talking Heads : I Zimbra

In February of 1980, Talking Heads released "I Zimbra", the band's second single from Fear of Music and the song that most suggested the band's next stop, a full submersion into the sounds of African pop. "We ... knew that our next album would be a further exploration of what we had begun with 'I Zimbra', Jerry Harrison told Liquid Audio. That album would be Remain In Light, one of the decade's best.

David Byrne and Brian Eno share songwriting credits with German Dada poet Hugo Ball ( pictured above), who died in 1927. The lyrics contain the lines: 

 Gadji beri bimba clandridi 
Lauli lonni cadori gadjam 
A bim beri glassala glandride 
E glassala tuffm I zimbra 

adapted from Ball's poem "Gadji beri bimba".  

Though they may sound Africa, the words have no meaning. 

Robert Fripp played guitar on the recording., which was augmented with congas, surdo, talking drums and djembe ( pictured below). When Talking Heads performed the song in concert they hired another virtuoso guitarist to play lead guitar, Adrien Belew. Belew and Fripp would team up in King Crimson in 1981.

While the album version barely eclipsed the 3:00 mark, there is an extended version that runs 6:37.

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