Byrne-in' Down the House | Bleader

Byrne-in' Down the House

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I haven't listened to WXRT in years, except for when I happen to catch it in a doctor's office. But I always remember Talking Heads being one of the station's staples: back when I toiled away in DePaul University's bookstore, it seemed the station had Little Creatures, easily the band's most cloying record, on auto-loop. I used to love the band, but that level of overkill turned me off.

Time has healed these wounds, and even though I dislike nearly all of his solo work I still respect David Byrne: the guy's generally exceptional taste and drive to share his discoveries via his Luaka Bop label are nothing but admirable. Byrne also hosts a pretty interesting blog where he expounds on wide variety of subjects, but one of my favorite features on his Web site is his self-programmed Internet radio shows, which are available as streaming MP3 files or under the eclectic section of iTunes radio. His most recent program is devoted to standards--classics from the Great American Songbook by Porter, Kern, Gershwin, et al--but Byrne's catholic tastes easily accommodate entries from Bjork, Caetano Veloso, Mama Cass, Willie Nelson, and Cat Power in addition to the usual suspects like Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, and Nat King Cole. Archived playlists aren't playable, but they're a fascinating way to spend an hour wishing that a Chicago radio station could reflect even a smidgen of that diversity.

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