Rock's Renaissance Man

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The band last toured in 1983, and Byrne remains noncommittal about future gigs. Nonetheless, Frantz is justifiably proud of the True Stories album. "We did it in five days and performed much better than we ever performed a record before. We rehearsed it, and then we played it like a garage band." But he does admit, "Tina and I would love to just get out and play. I feel like I'm forgetting how."

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"So far we've managed pretty well to drift apart and do other projects and come back together and do an album of new pop songs," Byrne observes. "As long as I have an outlet for the other things I want to do, usually I am really happy to work within the band form." But Byrne's breakthrough with True Stories may tip the balance. He is reading books like Watunna: An Orinoco Creation Cycle and The Epic of Gilgamesh, brainstorming on a new movie. In one way or another, every rock singer wants to be Elvis Presley. But here, all of a sudden, is one who can take a cut at being Orson Welles. Glass thinks "the Talking Heads will go on," but adds, "For many of us, it's the other ways in which David will be developing that will be the most interesting."

No matter how Byrne swings, it will be worth recalling that, according to Spalding Gray, "David doesn't say goodbye. He's afraid to say goodbye; he just doesn't do it." He has worked at it, though, and when Gray dropped around recently to visit Byrne, he passed a couple at the door. "Oh, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye," Byrne called to them earnestly, baffling Gray. Was he serious? Teasing? Or performing? For this singular creative spirit, there is no operative distinction between any of those alternatives. No question about it. Is there?

Then Byrne winked at Gray and, after a short visit, tried out a few more goodbyes.

With reporting by Elizabeth L. Bland/New York, Elaine Dutka/Los Angeles and Richard Woodbury/Dallas

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