Psycho Killer is an early song by Talking Heads. The song came out in the mid-seventies and attracted a lot of attention because of its lyrics and stripped back sound.
The song opens the 1984 live concert film STOP MAKING SENSE that features Talking Heads on tour promoting their new album Speaking In Tongues. The concert film is regarded as one of the best ever made breaking box office records across America.
Psycho Killer features David Byrne wandering onto an empty stage with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and cassette player. He puts the cassette player down on the stage… hits PLAY and the song begins with a ‘tock tock’ drum beat.
Selena Gomez sampled the drum beat from Psycho Killer in her 2017 hit song Bad Liar.
Psycho Killer is almost 40 years old and a remarkable song for its time. It is also hugely popular in one highland village in Fiji.
Thirty years ago I went to Fiji with my mate Phil. We ended up staying on the Coral Coast surfing a reef break out the front of our hotel and driving around the island in search of other waves (no internet then to tell you where the best waves were and the best waves on the island required boats and permissions).
We soon got friendly with a few other travellers who would surf this same right hand reef break each day. It wasn’t the longest ride in the world or the best but being only a short 150 metre paddle out from almost directly in front of our Bure it was highly convenient and a lot of fun with a few reef sharks to keep us company.
We ended up talking with a surfer from Newcastle who often arrived late just as the tide was about to get too high or too low.
We asked him where he had been and explained that he had been ‘up to the village’ and he pointed to a village in the distance up in the mountains behind the beach. ‘The village chief is a mad Talking Heads fan and each day I have to head up to the village and play ‘Psycho Killer’ on my cassette player for him before I can come down and have a surf. He loves it…something about the beat he said.”
We nodded heads. It is a great song… with a great beat. I’m sure David Byrne would be tickled pink to know his song is popular with the chief of a village in Fiji. I just wonder how long this poor surfer had to wander up to the village and play the song.
Almost 40 years later it still has a great beat.
Written by John Foss