To me, Talking Heads’ dopeness is a clear bell curve. Actually, it’s not a clear bell curve. Their first three albums have flashes of brilliance, the next two records are dope, and the last three albums are the sound of a band getting extremely bored. “Burning Down The House” is the New York art-rockers’ biggest hit, and comes from the second of their two serious dalliances with a more dance/funk-centric sound, 1983’s Speaking In Tongues (also my favorite album in their entire catalog.)
Allegedly, “Burning Down The House”’s title was inspired by a chant uttered at a Parliament/Funkadelic concert. So it’s fitting that the second-best thing about the song (after David Byrne’s typically idiosyncratic vocal delivery) includes Bernie Worrell, an invaluable member of the P-Funk team. Worrell’s squiggly synthesizer solo a little more than halfway through “Burning” is pure joy.