Talking Heads mastermind/general purveyor of good vibes, David Byrne, is celebrating the holiday season with a Christmas playlist he curated for NPR’s Fresh Air series. The 19-track collection truly has a little something for everyone, ranging from classics by The Pogues and Paul Simon to more contemporary carols from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and even 100 gecs.
Though Talking Heads were never interested in making a holiday album of their own — “If doesn’t click, you’ve just got this embarrassing thing,” the frontman explained to NPR — Byrne’s playlist does include “Fat Man’s Comin’,” a solo song he released last year in which he gives a very literal interpretation of Santa Claus. “Here’s a stranger who’s sneaking, breaking into your house, basically, leaving packages — and dressed in a rather strange outfit,” Byrne remembered of writing the track. “I thought, what if I just write that?
Byrne would be remiss not to include “Fairytale of New York,” the yuletide hit from The Pogues, whose frontman Shane MacGowan died just last month. “He paints a picture of this bickering couple that actually love one another very much, immigrants who have come to New York and are finding a hard time of it, getting their footing,” added Byrne, who — like MacGowan — has roots in the UK.
Byrne’s playlist also features Paul Simon’s “Getting Ready for Christmas Day,” James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,” LCD Soundsystem’s “Christmas Will Break Your Heart,” Tierra Whack’s “feel good,” and many more picks that just further prove his excellent, wide-spanning taste.
Stream David Byrne’s Christmas playlist on Apple Music and Spotify below.
Last September, Byrne reunited with his former Talking Heads bandmates for a once-in-a-lifetime (pun intended) event celebrating the 40th anniversary of their newly-restored concert film Stop Making Sense.