Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads album)

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Once in a Lifetime
Box set by Talking Heads
Released November 18, 2003 (2003-11-18)
Genre New wave, art punk
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Tony Bongiovi, Brian Eno, Nick Launay, Steve Lillywhite, Lance Quinn, Mark Spector
Talking Heads chronology
Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites
(1992)Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites1992
Once in a Lifetime
The Best of Talking Heads
(2004)The Best of Talking Heads2004
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Blender5/5 stars[3]
The Guardian3/5 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyA–[5]
Q4/5 stars[6]
The Village VoiceC[7]

Once in a Lifetime is a three-CD box set by the Talking Heads, released in the United States by Sire/Warner Bros./Rhino in 2003. The set also includes a DVD, an expanded version of the music video compilation Storytelling Giant. The discs are packaged in a wide horizontal book that recalls a CD longbox, featuring paintings by Russian artists Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov and with art direction by Stefan Sagmeister (for which he received a 2005 Grammy Award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package). Sagmeister would work with David Byrne and Brian Eno on their 2008 album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

Only one previously unreleased song appears in this release: the Naked outtake "In Asking Land". This song was later completed by Byrne and released as "Carnival Eyes" on his 1989 solo album Rei Momo. Other non-album tracks are: "Sugar on My Tongue", a 1975 studio demo, dating from when the band was still a trio (minus Jerry Harrison); the 1977 single "Love → Building on Fire", the "Psycho Killer" B-side "I Wish You Wouldn't Say That"; and two Naked-era songs – "Sax and Violins" (finished in 1991 for the soundtrack to the film Until the End of the World) and "Lifetime Piling Up" (finished in 1992 for the Sand in the Vaseline compilation). These non-album tracks had all been included on the 1992 compilation Sand in the Vaseline, though three non-album tracks (1975 studio demo "I Want to Live" and 1992's "Gangster of Love" and "Popsicle") remain exclusive to that compilation, in terms of CD releases. (Remastered versions of "I Want to Live", "Gangster of Love" and "Popsicle" were issued on the download-only release Bonus Rarities and Outtakes in 2006.)

This box set marked the first CD release of "A Clean Break", a 1977 live recording from 1982's The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads. However, that album was remastered and reissued in 2004 as a two-disc set.

Once in a Lifetime consists of four previously unreleased "alternate versions", three of which would later be reissued in various forms: "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" and "New Feeling" are the original Tony Bongiovi "pop experiment" mixes, including brass parts and other more "commercial" production techniques that the band ultimately rejected; "Cities" is an alternate take that includes a verse not found on any previous official release; and "Drugs" is an early mix of the song, featuring Robert Fripp on guitar and very different production and instrumentation than the final version. "Cities" was reissued on the 2006 remaster of Fear of Music, while "New Feeling" and "Drugs" were reissued digitally on Bonus Rarities and Outtakes.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Byrne except where noted.

Disc one

  1. "Sugar on My Tongue"  – 2:35 (from Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites, 1992)
  2. "Love → Building on Fire"  – 2:59 (non-album single, 1977)
  3. "I Wish You Wouldn't Say That"  – 2:37 (b-side of "Psycho Killer" single, 1977)
  4. "Don't Worry About the Government"  – 3:00 (from Talking Heads: 77, 1977)
  5. "Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town" (Alternate version)  – 2:55 (original version on Talking Heads: 77)
  6. "New Feeling" (Alternate version)  – 3:03 (original version on Talking Heads: 77)
  7. "Pulled Up"  – 4:30 (from Talking Heads: 77)
  8. "Psycho Killer" (Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth)  – 4:20 (from Talking Heads: 77)
  9. "Warning Sign" (Byrne, Frantz)  – 3:55 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food, 1978)
  10. "Artists Only" (Byrne, Wayne Zieve)  – 3:35 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
  11. "Tentative Decisions"  – 3:07 (from Talking Heads: 77)
  12. "No Compassion"  – 4:49 (from Talking Heads: 77)
  13. "Stay Hungry" (Byrne, Frantz)  – 2:41 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
  14. "I'm Not in Love"  – 4:34 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
  15. "The Book I Read"  – 4:09 (from Talking Heads: 77)
  16. "Thank You for Sending Me an Angel"  – 2:13 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
  17. "Found a Job"  – 5:01 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
  18. "A Clean Break" (Live)  – 4:57 (from The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads, 1982)
  19. "Take Me to the River" (Al Green, Mabon Hodges)  – 5:04 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
  20. "The Big Country"  – 5:31 (from More Songs About Buildings and Food)
  21. "Heaven"  – 4:01 (from Fear of Music, 1979)

Disc two

  1. "I Zimbra" (Byrne, Brian Eno, Hugo Ball)  – 3:07 (from Fear of Music)
  2. "Cities" (Alternate version)  – 5:27 (original version on Fear of Music)
  3. "Life During Wartime" (Byrne, Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Weymouth)  – 3:41 (from Fear of Music)
  4. "Air"  – 3:32 (from Fear of Music)
  5. "Memories Can't Wait" (Byrne, Harrison)  – 3:30 (from Fear of Music)
  6. "Drugs" (Alternate version) (Byrne, Eno)  – 3:33 (original version on Fear of Music)
  7. "Once in a Lifetime" (Byrne, Eno, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:20 (from Remain in Light, 1980)
  8. "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)" (Byrne, Eno, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:47 (from Remain in Light)
  9. "Listening Wind" (Byrne, Eno, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:41 (from Remain in Light)
  10. "Houses in Motion" (Byrne, Eno, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:31 (from Remain in Light)
  11. "Crosseyed and Painless" (Byrne, Eno, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:45 (from Remain in Light)
  12. "Burning Down the House" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:01 (from Speaking in Tongues, 1983)
  13. "Making Flippy Floppy" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:54 (from Speaking in Tongues)
  14. "Girlfriend Is Better" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:43 (from Speaking in Tongues)
  15. "Slippery People" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:05 (from Speaking in Tongues)
  16. "Swamp" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:10 (from Speaking in Tongues)
  17. "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:56 (from Speaking in Tongues)

Disc three

  1. "And She Was"  – 3:39 (from Little Creatures, 1985)
  2. "Stay Up Late"  – 3:44 (from Little Creatures)
  3. "Creatures of Love"  – 4:15 (from Little Creatures)
  4. "The Lady Don't Mind" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:04 (from Little Creatures)
  5. "Road to Nowhere"  – 4:20 (from Little Creatures)
  6. "Wild Wild Life"  – 3:41 (from True Stories, 1986)
  7. "Love for Sale"  – 4:31 (from True Stories)
  8. "People Like Us"  – 4:29 (from True Stories)
  9. "Puzzlin' Evidence"  – 5:23 (from True Stories)
  10. "City of Dreams"  – 5:09 (from True Stories)
  11. "Blind" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:00 (from Naked, 1988)
  12. "Mr. Jones" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 4:21 (from Naked)
  13. "The Democratic Circus" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:04 (from Naked)
  14. "(Nothing But) Flowers" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:33 (from Naked)
  15. "In Asking Land" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 3:58 (previously unreleased outtake from Naked sessions)
  16. "Sax and Violins" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 5:18 (from Until the End of the World soundtrack, 1991)
  17. "Lifetime Piling Up" (Byrne, Frantz, Harrison, Weymouth)  – 3:53 (from Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites)

Storytelling Giant DVD

  1. "Once in a Lifetime"
  2. "Wild Wild Life"
  3. "Stay Up Late"
  4. "Blind" (previously unreleased)
  5. "Crosseyed and Painless"
  6. "Burning Down the House"
  7. "And She Was"
  8. "Sax and Violins" (previously unreleased)
  9. "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)"
  10. "The Lady Don't Mind"
  11. "Love for Sale"
  12. "(Nothing But) Flowers" (previously unreleased)
  13. "Road to Nowhere"


  1. ^ "Critic Reviews for Once In A Lifetime". Metacritic. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Once in a Lifetime at AllMusic
  3. ^ "Review". Blender. No. 23. January 2004. p. 122.
  4. ^ Sweeting, Adam (November 27, 2003). "Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime". The Guardian. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  5. ^ "Review". Entertainment Weekly. November 28, 2003. p. 127.
  6. ^ "Review". Q. December 2003. p. 156.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 30, 2003). "Consumer Guide: Who Needs Boxes?". The Village Voice. Retrieved December 10, 2016.