Cities (Talking Heads song)

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Single by Talking Heads
from the album Fear of Music
  • "Cities (Live version)"
  • "Artists Only"
Format7", 12"
GenreNew wave, post-punk, funk
Songwriter(s)David Byrne
Producer(s)Brian Eno, Talking Heads
Talking Heads singles chronology
"I Zimbra"
"Crosseyed and Painless"

"Cities" was a single released by the American new wave band Talking Heads. It is the fourth track on the 1979 album Fear of Music.

Song style[edit]

"Cities" is a fast-paced bass and keyboard-led song. Tina Weymouth's bass playing in the song is described[by whom?] as both "melodic" and "funky", while David Byrne's guitar is said[by whom?] to be jittery, but clean-sounding. The song fades both in and out with a very aggressive funky rhythm and the fade-out makes a building-up feeling before the next song, "Life During Wartime".[1]


The song's meaning is simple: it is mainly about a man looking for a city to live in, though lead singer David Byrne's surrealistic yet humorous delivery of the song is anything but simple. The lyrics are both deadpan and silly causing a mixed humor in the song. This combination can be seen in lyrics such as "Did I forget to mention, forget to mention Memphis, home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks."[2][3][4]

Other versions[edit]

The jam band, Phish, covered "Cities" on their album Slip, Stitch and Pass and it has been played frequently at their concerts.[5][6]

Track listing[edit]

7" release

  1. "Cities" – 4:10
  2. "Cities" – (live version)[7]

12" release

  1. "Cities" – 4:10
  2. "Cities" – (live version)
  3. "Artists Only" – 3:36[8]


  1. ^ "Cities - Talking Heads | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  2. ^ "Talking Heads - Cities Lyrics". MetroLyrics. 2016-03-15. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  3. ^ Bill Janovitz. "Cities - Talking Heads | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  4. ^ Ian Gittins. Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime : the Stories Behind Every Song. p. 54. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  5. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Slip, Stitch and Pass - Phish | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  6. ^ "Cities Every Time Played". Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  7. ^ "Talking Heads - Cities". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  8. ^ "Talking Heads - Cities". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-04-10.