The title of the album is taken from a comment made by Imelda Marcos during a visit to her husband Ferdinand Marcos's embalmed body. Imelda Marcos expressed that she would like the phrase "Here Lies Love" to be inscribed on her tombstone.
David Byrne released the following statement regarding this album:
"The story I am interested in is about asking what drives a powerful person—what makes them tick? How do they make and then remake themselves? I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if—as this piece would be principally composed of clubby dance music—one could experience it in a club setting? Could one bring a 'story' and a kind of theatre to the disco? Was that possible? If so, wouldn’t that be amazing!"
Byrne described Cyndi Lauper's performance on the album as "amazingly fine-tuned" and "very impressive." The only male vocalists are Steve Earle on "A Perfect Hand", and Byrne himself on "American Troglodyte" and "Seven Years", the latter being a duet with Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond.
The first promotional single from Here Lies Love is "Please Don't" featuring Santigold on vocals. The single became available on Byrne's website as a free high-quality MP3 download on 19 January 2010.
Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts (2006), Carnegie Hall Perspectives Series (2007), The Public Theater (2013)
Here Lies Love was performed live four times before the album was released. It was first presented as a song cycle (with vocals by Byrne, Dana Diaz-Tutaan and Ganda Suthivarakom) at the Adelaide Festival of Arts under the artistic direction of Brett Sheehy in Adelaide, Australia, on 10 March 2006 with additional dates on 13 and 14 March, and was also performed live at the Carnegie Hall in New York City on 3 February 2007, as part of the Carnegie Hall Perspectives Series.
The album was adapted into a stage musical, directed by Alex Timbers, that premiered off-Broadway at The Public Theater in New York City in 2013. It starred Ruthie Ann Miles in the title role. The production played an extended run at the Public before closing in August 2013. It returned for an open-ended commercial run again at the Public in April 2014. The production closed at the Public on January 4, 2015. The production won five Lucille Lortel Awards in 2014. The musical, directed once again by Timbers, opened at the Royal National Theatre in September 2014 and played a limited, sold out run through January 2015 at the Royal's newly renovated Dorfman Theatre. The London-based production was nominated for three Olivier Awards in 2015 (Best New Musical, Outstanding Achievement in Music, and Best Theatre Choreographer).
The overall album had a moderately positive critical reception, with many critics praising the production quality yet feeling it was lacking in artistic expression. The review by Pitchfork Media summarized: "And even [the tracks are] not bad, per se, unless the very idea of bland competence offends you".