i worked for a while as a lab tech at lenscrafters at the local mall.
i remember thinking that it was the end of western civilization.

but that’s not what i want to tell you about.

while i was working there, i met al grant. al was a lab tech as well. he was a retired gentleman from pittsburgh pa. this job was his post retirement job.
al had an enormous spirit and a tremendous heart. he possessed a remarkable laugh.

we had a boom-box in the lab and several of us brought in tapes of our favorite music.
there were days when the music nearly drove you insane and there were days when it was fantastic and you learned things about artists you'd never heard before.

al was a jazz aficionado. he had seen everyone in pittsburgh. everyone. in the lab, we listened to mingus, ornette coleman, and thelonius monk, all with a story from al grant. he fast became one of my favorite people. one night during clean up we listened to duke ellington. one song was particularly slinky and sexy and i remarked on it. al said “that’s because duke only wrote about women.”

his openness to all forms of music was awe inspiring. he could groove on anything. the pixies, clash (al liked big audio dynamite better, i secretly did as well), hank williams, a tribe called quest, de la soul, linton quesi johnson, john zorn, pere ubu, it didn’t matter -he was genre-less.

al had lived a full epic life by the time he and i became friends. in the seventies, he had a pretty serious addiction and his loving family locked him in the basement with marvin gaye’s concept album “what’s goin on.” al said that it saved his life.

i was a huge talking heads fan. i put "speaking in tongues" on one night when al and i were closing. by the time naive melody was playing al had begun to move around a bit and then he started dancing around and the next thing i know, i was dancing too. cleaning the generator the edgers and the tools.

al is gone now. a mutual friend called me just after i moved to california and gave me the news.

now i can’t hear that song without thinking of him.

this is a music video of the talking heads from their album "speaking in tongues" back in 1983.

background information:

new york city, new york, united states

new wave
art rock

years active:


associated acts:
brian eno
david byrne
the modern lovers
tom tom club
jerry Harrison

former members:
david byrne
jerry harrison
tina weymouth
chris frantz

studio albums:
1. talking heads: 77 (september 16, 1977)
us pop-97
2. more songs about buildings and food (july 14, 1978)
us pop-29
3. fear of music (august 3, 1979)
us pop-21
4. remain in light (october 8, 1980)
us pop-19
5. speaking in tongues (may 31, 1983)
us pop-15; us r&b- 55
6. little creatures (july 15, 1985)
us pop-20
7. true stories (october 7, 1986)
us pop-28
8. naked (april 3, 1988)us pop-19

compilation albums:
1. sand in the vaseline: popular favorites (october 13, 1992) us pop #158
2. once in a lifetime - the best of talking heads (1992)
3. the best of talking heads (august 17, 2004)
4. bonus rarities and outtakes (2006)
5. talking heads: the collection (2007)

boxed sets:
1. once in a lifetime (november 18, 2003)
2. brick (october 4, 2005)

tribute album:
1. don't worry about the cover band: tribute album (2000)

live albums:
1. the name of this band Is talking heads (march 24, 1982)us pop- 31
2. stop making sense (october 15, 1984)us pop- 41

1. storytelling giant (1988)

feature-length films:
1. stop making sense -- talking heads' critically acclaimed concert film, shot and edited by notable director jonathan demme in 1984
2. true stories -- starring david byrne, with cameos by other talking heads members and a soundtrack by talking heads
3. blank generation -- documentary about early punk scene in new-york

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