Join Tony's Mailing List

Get notified about songwriting events and gigs.

Lyrics: Connecting The Dots – Part 3 (David Byrne)

Continuing to think about the many different ways songwriters connect the dots in their lyrics, let’s look at And She Was – written by David Byrne, recorded by Talking Heads.

Here’s Verse 1, Pre-Chorus, Chorus:

     And she was lying in the grass
     And she could hear the highway breathing
     And she could see a nearby factory
     She’s making sure she is not dreaming

     See the lights of a neighbor’s house
     Now she’s starting to rise.
     Take a minute to concentrate and she
     Opens up her eyes.

     The world was moving
     She was right there with it
     And She Was
     The world was moving
     She was floatin’ above it
     And She Was
     And She Was

I’d listened to this song dozens of times, learned it, played it, and even sung it myself on stage before someone told me, to my surprise, that they thought it was about a woman’s spirit leaving her body right after she died…  Apparently David Byrne has said it was about an acid trip of a girl he knew…  I just thought the lyric was some cool, great-sounding shit that I didn’t completely understand and loved anyway.

David Byrne knew exactly the story he was telling us but never explicitly lays out what it’s about.  He gives us the numbers but leaves it to us to add them up.  However you take it, analyzing or not, the lyric works, as does the whole song.  I love the juxtaposition of the exuberant music with the cosmic nature of the lyric.

Even setting aside the meaning, the words feel and sound very coherent:

     And she was drifting through the backyard
     And she was taking off her dress
     And she was moving very slowly
     Rising up above the earth

     Moving into the universe and she’s
     Drifting this way and that
     Not touching the ground at all and she’s
     Up above the yard

     The world was moving
     She was right there with it
     And She Was
     The world was moving
     She was floatin’ above it
     And She Was
     And She Was

Also note that there’s only ONE true rhyme in the song… and a couple of close ones.  It uses NOT rhyming to powerfully reinforce the feeling of displacement that’s so important to the lyric.

Overall, this song mixes musical and lyric moods to create a very complex effect.  Listen (and watch; great video too):

2 responses to “Lyrics: Connecting The Dots – Part 3 (David Byrne)”

Leave a comment