Road to Nowhere, Talking Heads*

For 1985, I picked another Talking Heads song, “Road to Nowhere.” Byrne wanted to write a song about a doomed planet, he said: “I wanted to write a song that presented a resigned, even joyful look at doom.” The idea for the song started with the chorus: “We’re on a road to nowhere/Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere/We’ll take that ride.” The rest of the song grew around this idea. This seems to be a very common way for songwriters to write, start with the hook, and then work from there. The song itself is only a couple of chords, so Byrne added the choir in the beginning: “The front bit, the white gospel choir, is kind of tacked on, ’cause I didn’t think the rest of the song was enough… I mean, it was only two chords. So, out of embarrassment, or shame, I wrote an intro section that had a couple more in it.”

In 2020 Byrne appeared on Saturday Night Live and performed a variation of the song with the cast, instead of or Road to Nowhere, it was Plane to Nowehere. The song starts at around 6:50:

The original video for the song was directed by David Byrne and Stephen R. Johnson. Johnson directed other great videos such as Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” “Steam,” and “Big Time,” Dire Straits “Walk of Life” and “The Bug,” among others. You can see a playlist of some of his videos here. Here is the Talking Heads, “Road to Nowhere.”

Well, we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowin’
But we can’t say what we’ve seen

And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride

I’m feelin’ okay this mornin’
And you know
We’re on a road to paradise
Here we go, here we go

We’re on a ride to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride

Maybe you wonder where you are
I don’t care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there, take you there

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere

There’s a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

And it’s very far away
But it’s growing day by day
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

Would you like to come along?
And you could help me sing this song
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

They can tell you what to do
But they’ll make a fool of you
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

There’s a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

And it’s very far away
But it’s growing day by day
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

Would you like to come along?
You could help me sing this song
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

They can tell you what to do
But they’ll make a fool of you
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere

PhD in Philosophy, Professor, Artist, Movie Buff.