Crosseyed and Painless

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"Crosseyed and Painless"
Crosseyed and painless west germany vinyl.jpg
German 12" vinyl cover art
Single by Talking Heads
from the album Remain in Light
B-side "The Great Curve"
Released 1980
Format 12"
Length 4:48
Label Sire
Producer(s) Brian Eno
Talking Heads singles chronology
"Crosseyed and Painless"
"Once in a Lifetime"

"Crosseyed and Painless"
"Once in a Lifetime"

"Crosseyed and Painless" is a song by American new wave band Talking Heads. It was released in 1980, as a promotional single from their fourth studio album, Remain in Light. Although the single failed to reach on the US main chart, it reached to 20 on the US Dance chart. 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[edit]

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,[1] 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.[2] The singer is filled with doubt and isn't even sure he can believe facts.[3] 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."[3]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Crosseyed and Painless", lasting 5:37, was directed by Toni Basil and by their own request did not feature the members of the band. Instead it featured authentic street dancers (including Stephen "Skeeter Rabbit" Nichols),[4] chosen by David Byrne, and who were said to have chosen their own parts for the video.[5] The dancers engage in various dance mimes of hustling, knife crime, posing, body popping, solicitation and street fighting.

Cover and other versions[edit]


  1. ^ Janovitz, Bill. "Crosseyed and Painless - Talking Heads : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  2. ^ Bowman, David (2001). This Must Be the Place: The Adventures of Talking Heads in the Twentieth Century. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-380-97846-6.
  3. ^ a b Gittens, I. (2004). Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime : the Stories Behind Every Song. Hal Leonard. pp. 67–68. ISBN 9780634080333. 
  4. ^ Morse, Steve (18 September 1987), "Bowie Weaves Magic on Glass Spider Tour", The Boston Globe, retrieved 28 May 2013 
  5. ^ Billboard - Google Books. 1982-07-10. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Crosseyed and Painless Every Time Played". Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  7. ^ "Song Finder // Songs // Rock Band". Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2012-08-27.