In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, because it’s “Love Week” here at The A.V. Club, we’re picking our favorite songs to put on a mixtape.
When Talking Heads frontman David Byrne started dating costume designer Adelle Lutz in 1982, the new relationship inspired Byrne to do something he’d never even tried before: writing a love song. Taking the music from a simple instrumental vamp that he and his bandmates had cooked up during a jam session, Byrne strung together a series of short, loosely connected phrases in praise of domesticity. For someone whose rock ’n’ roll reputation had been built on ironic faux-sincerity and “songs about buildings and food,” Byrne made a startling and touchingly personal leap with lyrics like “I’m just an animal looking for a home,” and, “You love me ’til my heart stops.” “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” became the second single from Talking Heads’ hit 1983 album Speaking In Tongues, and though it didn’t rise as high in the charts as the Top 10 “Burning Down The House,” it marked a new direction in Byrne’s songwriting that would culminate in the adorably heartfelt 1985 record Little Creatures. Two years later, in 1987, he and Lutz married—and stayed together until 2004, raising one daughter.
I’m not sure that I knew any of that when I used “This Must Be The Place” as the soundtrack to a marriage proposal. I only knew that I loved the song—and I loved the woman I was asking to be my wife. Donna and I had spent Christmas apart that year, and planned to exchange gifts when we reunited back in our apartment a week later. So on New Year’s Eve, 1995, I said to her, “I want you to watch this,” and I showed her Talking Heads’ performance of “This Must Be The Place” from the concert film Stop Making Sense. After we watched Byrne dance rapturously with a floor-lamp, I got down on one knee—old-school—and read a short speech I’d prepared, ending by asking for her hand. Donna, who was suffering from a bad cold, quickly said yes, cried, wiped her nose, and went to bed, after giving me my presents: winter socks and rechargeable batteries.
We had a small reception when we got married 10 months later. No band, no bar, no dancing. (We went to a nearby restaurant and partied with our friends later that night.) But I made a mixtape of some of our favorite love songs to play on a boombox, and the tape started with “This Must Be The Place.” I had some idea in my head that our wedding guests would hear the song and ask me about it, and I could tell our proposal story. Instead, the music played quietly, and only in one corner of the room, so no one really heard it. The next morning though, on our way out of town, as we drove to our honeymoon spot, Donna fished through my box of cassettes and popped in that tape—turning it up loud. Byrne’s marriage to Lutz didn’t last. But 20 years later, my wife and I are still listening to love songs together… and still enjoying being home.