Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Life During Wartime (song)

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B-side  Electric Guitar (1979)
Format  7", 12"
Length  3:41 5:52 (live)
Released  1979, 1982 (live)
Genre  New wave, post-punk
Label  Sire
Life During Wartime (song)

"Life During Wartime" is a song by the American new wave band Talking Heads, released as the first single from their 1979 album Fear of Music in 1979. It peaked at #80 on the US Billboard Pop Singles Chart.


The song is also performed in the 1984 film Stop Making Sense, which depicts a Talking Heads concert. The performance featured in the film prominently features aerobic exercising and jogging by David Byrne and background singers. The Stop Making Sense live version of the track is featured in the film's accompanying soundtrack album. Its official title as a single, "Life During Wartime (This Ain't No Party... This Ain't No Disco... This Ain't No Foolin' Around)", makes it one of the longest-titled singles.

The song is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.


In David Bowman's book This Must Be the Place: The Adventures of Talking Heads in the Twentieth Century Byrne is quoted as describing the genesis of the song: "David wrote nine of the album's eleven tracks. Two numbers came out of jamming. The first would be called "Life During Wartime." David's lyrics describe a Walker Percy-ish post-apocalyptic landscape where a revolutionary hides out in a deserted cemetery, surviving on peanut butter. 'I wrote this in my loft on Seventh and Avenue A,' David later said, 'I was thinking about Baader-Meinhof. Patty Hearst. Tompkins Square. This a song about living in Alphabet City.'"

AllMusic's Bill Janowitz reviewed the song, calling attention to its nearness to funk, saying that it is a "sort of apocalyptic punk/funk merge" comparable to Prince's later hit single "1999". In 2012, The New Yorker described "Life During Wartime" as, "an apocalyptic swamp-funk transmission in four-four time," adding "[it] is the band’s pinnacle, and the song is still a hell of a thing to hear."


The lyrics are told from the point of view of someone involved in clandestine activities in the U.S. (the cities Houston, Detroit, and Pittsburgh are mentioned) during some sort of civil unrest or dystopian environment.

The line "This ain't no Mudd Club or CBGB" refers to two New York music venues at which the band performed in the 1970s.

"The line 'This ain't no disco' sure stuck!" remarks Byrne in the liner notes of Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads. "Remember when they would build bonfires of Donna Summer records? Well, we liked some disco music! It's called 'dance music' now. Some of it was radical, camp, silly, transcendent and disposable. So it was funny that we were sometimes seen as the flag-bearers of the anti-disco movement."

Chart runs

  • Billboard Hot 100 (5 weeks, entered November 3): Reached #80
  • Personnel

  • David Byrne: Vocals, Guitar
  • Jerry Harrison: Synthesizers
  • Tina Weymouth: Bass Guitar
  • Chris Frantz: Drums
  • Other versions

    The song was covered and is used at live shows by Welsh indie alternative band The Automatic. The song is occasionally played in concert by American jam bands Widespread Panic and Umphrey's McGee. It was covered by the Brazilian band Os Paralamas do Sucesso on their MTV Unplugged show. During their 1997 Popmart Tour, the band U2 would often inject portions of the song into performances of "Discotheque."


    Life During Wartime (song) Wikipedia

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