Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Crosseyed and Painless

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Released  1980
Length  4:48
Format  12"
Label  Sire
B-side  The Great Curve (Germany)
Genre  New wave, worldbeat, funk rock

"Crosseyed and Painless" was a promotional single from the album Remain In Light by new wave band Talking Heads. Although the single failed to reach on the US main charts, it reached to 20 on the US Dance charts. This was Talking Heads's highest charting dance single of all time. It was also the second music video to be released by the band in 1981.


Song style

It is categorized as having both funk and dance musical styles. The song uses instruments and techniques such as cowbell loops, congas, bells, staccato guitar rhythms, and electronic blips. The rhythm of the song as well as the use of the congas add an African feel to the song, which is also apparent in their song "I Zimbra."


The lyrics discuss a paranoid and alienated man who feels he is stressed by his urban surroundings. These lyrics are of common theme for Talking Heads and categorize lead singer David Byrne's writing style. The "rhythmical rant" in "Crosseyed and Painless"—"Facts are simple and facts are straight. Facts are lazy and facts are late."—is influenced by old school rap, specifically Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" given to Byrne by Frantz. The singer is filled with doubt and isn't even sure he can believe facts. By the end of the song, he expresses his resentment of facts: "Facts don't do what I want them to do / Facts just twist the truth around."

Music video

The music video for "Crosseyed and Painless" was produced by Toni Basil. It did not feature the members of Talking Heads in the video, by their own request. Instead it featured authentic street dancers (including Stephen "Skeeter Rabbit" Nichols), picked by David Byrne, who were said to have chosen their own parts for the video.

Cover and other versions

  • "Crosseyed and Painless" is played very often at Phish concerts.
  • Radioactive Man covered the song on his 2012 album, Waits and Measures.
  • The song is available as downloadable content for the game series Rock Band.
  • References

    Crosseyed and Painless Wikipedia

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