Music, Pop Culture

Why This Must be the Place (Naive Melody) is the Best Song in the World

I’ll never forget the moment that the film went black. A lone floor lamp is switched on as three large video panels fade into images of bookshelves. Various keyboards start to intertwine as a lanky figure in a white suit stands awkwardly onstage, about to sing one of the few windows into his heart. It was eleven years ago that I first heard “This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)” by the Talking Heads in their 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense. It is still my favorite song. The song I want played at my wedding- if I ever have one- and the song I want played at my funeral- if I ever die. If I get a tattoo, it would be simply of the first line in this song- “Home, is where I want to be pick me up and turn me ’round.” This song has been played over 10,000 times between my laptop, iPod, and car stereo. I instantly freeze and lose complete cognitive functions when “This Must be the Place” plays anywhere.

It’s hard to understand what exactly about a song strikes a listener and then lingers in their psyche for a year, ten years, or maybe forever. Truthfully, “This Must be the Place” is simple. No surprises, no punches. Just the same four chords for 4 minutes and 56 seconds. So why does anyone who hears it instantly like it? Why does this woman have a tattoo of it? Why have bands like Arcade Fire, MGMT, Counting Crows, and a plethora of other artists covered it? Maybe it’s because of lyrics like, “Love me ’til my heart stops, love me ’til I’m dead” resonates with anyone who listens. Maybe it’s because, having been used to eccentric songs about intimate objects, the listeners are treated to a rare vulnerability to the seemingly cold and odd front man. Maybe it’s the breeziness of the keyboards. Maybe there is something comfortable in the sweet and unadulterated combination of it all. Whatever it is, “This Must be the Place” holds a special place for many of us.

First featured in 1983 on the Talking Heads’ studio album Speaking in Tongues, and then on their live album Stop Making Sense, Byrne admitted that it was one of the few love songs he had written until then. In a self-interview at the end of the Stop Making Sense DVD, Byrne states that singing about love is “kind of big”, so he typically stuck to topics like paper and buildings. Full of “non sequiturs” and “phrases that have strong emotional resonance”, “This Must be the Place” is the ultimate collage of romantic thoughts. One is to assume that Byrne must have been smitten with his then girlfriend and future wife, Adelle Lutz, who was also the owner of the bare ass video panel that flashes during the live version on Stop Making Sense. “And of all those kinds of people,” Byrne sings to the inspirer of his words, “You’ve got a face with a view. I’m just an animal looking for a home and share the same space for a minute of two.” Could it be the first time that Byrne truly felt love?

Though the entire song if about the happiness and the blissful confusion that love creates, the phrase “Naive Melody” was a reference to the simplicity of the song and the band members playing instruments that were not their primary talent on the studio track.

There is no better way to start Monday morning with a little “head in the sky”.

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  • Reply Kyle Funk January 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I love the bonus from Stop Making Sense where David interviews himself. "I did write one love song, in this movie I sing it to a lamp!"

  • Reply theTsaritsa January 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I loved reading this! I feel like we all have one of these songs, where the whole world must stay quiet so that we can experience the sounds and moods of our song. When "Plainclothes Man" comes on I pretty much shut up and stand there listening.

    Like that Seinfeld episode when "Desperado" comes on. haha

  • Reply Jenn - There's Your Karma January 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Aw, I have to be honest, I hadn't heard this song until I started "following" you (creepy?) and then of course there was that one time you drunkenly tweeted all of the lines? Now I have all these fun facts to throw out at parties when people talk about David Byrne.

    Anyway, it's awesome and you're awesome and YAY HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  • Reply Adria January 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    ahh, as usual, I'm in complete agreement.

  • Reply Benny January 4, 2011 at 2:32 am

    This is actually the first time I've listened to this song and read along with the lyrics. I always liked it but now I get it. I think. I think it's about experiencing all the scary feelings that go along with being in love but being cool with how weird it is. And much more. And lamps. Awesome.

  • Reply Maiasaura January 4, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Hello! My picture is getting a little extra love today thanks to your post. I obviously agree that it is the best song in the world. For me the song is amazing, but the concert footage puts it over the top, which is why I had to include the lamp in my tattoo. Cheers!

  • Reply StrangeBird January 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

    What a great song – can't believe I haven't heard it before now. Instant fave! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply cj Schlottman January 4, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Hey, Lauren,

    Loved this post. I guess I'm one of the few people alive who had not heard this song until now. I love it and can see why you do, too. I've been MIA (horrordays) but I'm back. I'll be following regularly again……….cj

  • Reply Hipstercrite January 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    @Kyle- I know! When I was a kid, I was totally blown away by that movie and interview. The interview is hysterical because of how weird and crappily done it is.

    @Tsaritsa- Can you believe I've never heard "Plainclothes Man". I even had to look it. Don't hate me. 🙁

    @Jenn- YAY! Hahaha! My drunk tweeting worked!!! 😉

    @Adria- 😀

    @Benny- As I've gotten older, the lyrics have taken on more meaning. When I was a kid, I used to think they were cute, now every sentence means something to me. It is simple, but totally relatable.

    @Maiasaura- YES! Well it's an AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME tattoo and I'm kind of jealous!

    @Strangebird- Awww…I'm glad you like it. Check out the studio version on Speaking in Tongues too…though I think the live version on Stop Making Sense is way better.

    @CJ- CJ! I've missed you!

  • Reply Teibs January 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    This made my day. I was working at a Brookstone flying remote control helicopters and was forced to listen to Glee Christmas on an endless loop. On my last day, I took command of the speakers and pumped the Stop Making Sense version of "Naive Melody" and one girl in the store started singing along, nodding her head and doing a little Byrne dance. That never happened with Glee Christmas.

  • Reply Melanie's Randomness January 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I love this song. They say so much in so lil words. That's why I miss the 80's. The songs had meaning & it wasn't just some constant repeat of the chorus. Thanks for posting the video I'm gunna watch it now! happy new years btw! =)

    Melanie's Randomness

  • Reply Gemma Woodcock January 9, 2011 at 3:15 am

    I share your feelings on this one… it's incredibly beautiful. My favourite lyrics of all time " of all those kinds of people…you got a face with a view". Love it.

  • Reply Nigel November 24, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Just happened to find this page while seeing if anyone agreed with my ascertation that Naive Melody is the best love song ever written 🙂 Enjoyed the read 🙂

    • Reply hipstercrite November 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Oh hi! Awesome! Yes, it’s the best song every! I’ve never grown tired of that song. Thanks for saying hi!

  • Reply christie April 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I have the exact same feeling about this song – – even down to having said that I would want this played at my wedding and funeral. Love it!

  • Reply Phil September 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    My favourite song of all time. I did dance to it with my wife at my wedding, 14 years ago… and she still loves me ’til my heart stops.

  • Reply Hans Verweij August 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm


    I just read ur comments about this song. I’ve listend to this song for 27 years now. It had become part of me. It always makes me feel good. Part of my soul resids in this song.

    It was nice to hear others fl the same, thanx


  • Reply Mike October 22, 2013 at 1:25 am

    I was drunk and all I could do was think of this song and smile. You couldn’t be more right, sister.

    *Note: I am not a black woman

  • Reply Mary December 28, 2013 at 2:04 am

    I love this song so much too. If I could articulate why, it has something to do with the genuine emotion that you can hear in his voice. We hear so many songs about that say something along the lines of “I’ll love you forever,” to the point where that obviously has no meaning. But “love me ’til my heart stops” has a lot more gravity to it. It seems so much more serious, because death is more real that “forever.” When you hear something like that, with the conviction that he sings it, it just grabs you, because you know you want someone who will love you like that.

  • Reply Gavin Hancock December 4, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I could’ve written this myself. I adore this song, I have it as my wake-up song.

  • Reply Nick August 12, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I just Googled “Is ‘This must be the Place” the best song ever?” just to find some sympathetic minds. Clearly I’m not the only one…

    • Reply filip February 26, 2016 at 6:55 am

      Same here, was not disappointed:)

  • Reply Greg September 3, 2015 at 5:20 am

    One of the best songs ever written. It reminds me of my beautiful girlfriend. I had basically given up on women and dating when I was cheated on, but I ended up meeting my current girlfriend, and she’s just an angel. A beautiful person/soul.

    I just think the song is about how one suddenly is alone, not thinking of a significant other, going on about with their day, and they suddenly meet the person of their dreams. BAM. Their entire life changes — for the better, of course. 😀

    Even though it’s for the better, it’s still scary, however, because you now love a significant other more than life itself. You put them first, and the eventual house, kids, family, and extreme responsibilities will come with it. Your old life is now over, and a new great one will begin. Life…amazing, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Reply Andrew November 25, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Yes this really is one of the best songs ever. It just catches me and I can’t do anything but listen. Love it and glad someone is writing about it!!

  • Reply David September 26, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    I love this song and had the exact same thought: perfect at my wedding (not that I know if I’ll ever marry).

    There’s also the 2011 movie by the same name with a Robert-Smithish-looking Sean Penn.

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