A raucous blast of pure joy: American Utopia

By Caitlin Kelly

If you can access Spike Lee’s new film of David Byrne’s former Broadway show, American Utopia, do!

I’ve been rocking out to Byrne and his Talking Heads since their first album came out in 1977 when I was at University of Toronto. Psycho Killer with its chorus of fafafafafafafafafafa…better run, run, run, run, run, run away? No one before had made music quite like it.

The film of the show makes me cry now because it’s full of all the things we can no longer enjoy — and who knows when we’ll be able to do so again — pack into an every-seat-filled theater, hollering out the songs we know and love at top volume, dancing in the aisles, savoring the conga line of musicians snaking through the audience.

The musicians each wear the instrument they play, whether a small drum or large drum or acoustic guitar or cymbals. They swerve and sway and own the stage, joyous and somber in turn.

The musicians come from all over: Toronto, Brazil, France.

Everyone wears a pale gray suit. Everyone is barefoot.

Two are dancers.

At times, they become a deeply moving gospel choir.

The film used 11 cameras, offering us views we would never have enjoyed in the theater.

What a badly needed joy this is right now!

Here’s the 1:10 trailer from HBO.

12 thoughts on “A raucous blast of pure joy: American Utopia

    1. Nice! I never read Esquire….have really given up on most magazines as I’m always weeks behind on my daily papers as it is.

      I think you’ll really enjoy it.

      And if you’re looking for a great book, Byrne’s How Music Works is terrific — I’ve given it twice to artsy male pals as birthday gifts.

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