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Once in a Lifetime

Once in a Lifetime


by Talking Heads

Once in a Lifetime Introduction

In a Nutshell

Ahh, the ‘80s: big hair, neon everything, and… spastic marionette dance moves in front of videos of tribal Africa? It seems fitting that one of the songs that kicked off the Decade of Decadence was Talking Head’s “Once in a Lifetime,” a weirdly political New Wave tune that was perfect for MTV when it launched a few months later.

You may find yourself wondering why people were so weird in the ‘80s. You may find yourself laughing at the ridiculous fashions and hairstyles. You may find yourself looking at photos of your parents and dying of embarrassment. You may find yourself cringing whenever they play their music. You may ask yourself: well… how do I know my kids won’t do the same thing in 30 years?

About the Song

ArtistTalking Heads Musician(s)David Byrne (vocals), Chris Frantz (drums), Jerry Harrison (guitar), Tina Weymouth (bass)
AlbumRemain in Light
Writer(s)David Byrne, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth
Producer(s)Brian Eno
Learn to play: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/t/talking_heads/once_in_a_lifetime_btab.htm
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Talking Heads was one of those super influential bands of the <’80s (http://www.shmoop.com/reagan-era/)> like that inspired countless bands who came afterwards, from to . They were a quirky New Wave band, and their videos were perfect for newly established MTV. They often worked with Brian Eno, the legendary producer famous for making music with the likes of , , and Coldplay.

On the Charts

Even though it was released on Remain in Light in 1980 and on its own as a single in 1981, “Once in a Lifetime” did not crack the Billboard Hot 100 in the US until 1986 when a live version of the song was released and hit #91. The song did make it to #14 on the UK Singles Chart in 1981, though.

Remain in Light hit the #19 and #21 spots in the US and UK charts, respectively. Rolling Stone named the album #126 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and many other publications and websites include the album on their lists of greatest songs of the 80s.

NPR named “Once in a Lifetime” of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century.

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