Chris Johnston
Christchurch , New Zealand, 1983

Last weekend, my older brother handed me a letter I had written to him in 1983 when I was 17. It was strange and lonely to read it; handwritten, large lettering, blue biro, a schoolboy.

So sure of such little things but so ignorant of reality or even what my real dreams were.

So arrogant and conceited without due cause.

And such a dire music tragic…professing such unrequited love and teenage lust for The Fireman’s Curse and the Jam, Madness and UB40, the Creatures, Peter Gabriel and Blue Monday.

The letter is a naïve melody mistakenly located in a place I thought was the place but was far from being the right place for me.

Who else is name-checked? Talking Heads, several times. Especially Speaking In Tongues – a great album but perhaps underrated in a line-up that also includes Remain In Light and Fear Of Music from the Eno years, Talking Heads: 77 and Little Creatures.

Over the years, I have begun to feel this column [in The Age newspaper] is the Talking Heads column, but whatever. It is what it is and I am who I am.

In 1983, the great live tour, album and film, Stop Making Sense, was yet to emerge and I went to see them, of course, sneaking out of school, and they played all the great songs in a kind of postmodern theatre piece about the human condition, singer David Byrne in the big suit as the man swallowed by his own life and the endless march of other people’s capitalistic lives.

This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) is simply beautiful, the last and very reflective song on a quite upbeat album that also included Burning Down The House, Slippery People and Girlfriend Is Better.


© Chris Johnston. This piece was first published in The Age on 30 November 2012. Chris is a journalist with Fairfax Media, and author of the long-running weekly column The Crate.