Talking Heads – ‘Take Me To The River’
  • Writer: Al Green and Michael Hodges
  • Producers: Brian Eno and Talking Heads
  • Recorded: April 1978 at Compass Point Studios in New Providence, the Bahamas
  • Released: Summer 1978
  • Players:
    David Byrne — vocals, guitar
    Chris Frantz — drums
    Jerry Harrison — organ
    Tina Weymouth — bass
  • Album: More Songs About Buildings And Food (Sire, 1978)
  • Also On:
    The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (Sire, 1982)
    Stop Making Sense (Sire, 1984)
    Popular Favorites 1984-1992: Sand In The Vaseline (Sire, 1992)
    Once In A Lifetime (Sire/Rhino, 2003)
    The Best Of Talking Heads (Sire/Warner Bros./Rhino, 2004)
  • After Talking Heads established themselves on the vanguard of New Wave with their debut album, Talking Heads ’77, the group’s choice of an Al Green song to cover was a surprise.
  • The band gave the song its own distinctive treatment, with a stiffer, more mechanical arrangement under David Byrne‘s passionate vocal delivery. They added echoey special effects afterwards.
  • Byrne said that there were three other covers of “Take Me To The River” out at roughly the same time — by Foghat, Bryan Ferry, and ex-Band drummer Levon Helm. Byrne said, “More money for Mr. Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, I suppose.”
  • Byrne described “Take Me To The River” as “A song that combines teenage lust with baptism. Not equates, you understand, but throws them in the same stew, at least. A potent blend. All praise the mighty spurtin’ Jesus!”
  • “Take Me To The River” was Talking Heads’ first Top 30 hit, peaking at Number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • The album More Songs About Buildings And Food hit Number 29 on the Billboard 200 and Number 21 in the U.K.
  • Talking Heads supported the album with their first world tour, hitting not only North America and Europe but also New Zealand, Australia, and Japan.


  • Talking Heads stopped touring after their elaborate 1983 trek, though they continued to record until 1988.
  • Byrne has maintained a solo career and also runs the Luaka Bop world music record label.
  • Multi-instrumentalist Jerry Harrison has released solo albums and has produced the Verve Pipe, Live, the Crash Test Dummies, the Fine Young Cannibals, No Doubt, and others.
  • The husband-and-wife team of drummer Chris Frantz and singer-bassist Tina Weymouth have continued their Talking Heads side project, the Tom Tom Club.
  • In 1996, Harrison, Weymouth, and Frantz reunited as the Heads, though their album — recorded with numerous guest singers — was a commercial dud and was challenged by legal action from Byrne.
  • Talking Heads reunited for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of 2002.