Former Talking Heads leader David Byrne has penned a sweet memorial for director Jonathan Demme, who died Wednesday morning at age 73.
Demme directed Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 concert documentary shot during Talking Heads’ tour in support of their Speaking in Tongues album.
In a message on his website, Byrne says he’d enjoyed Demme’s earlier films and “could sense his love of ordinary people” and that Demme was “a huge music fan.”
Byrne explains, “We booked four nights at the Pantages Theatre in L.A. at the tail end of a tour for filming. Jonathan joined us on the road and became familiar with the band and the show."
He notes, "Jonathan’s skill was to see the show almost as a theatrical ensemble piece, in which the characters and their quirks would be introduced to the audience, and you’d get to know the band as people, each with their distinct personalities. They became your friends, in a sense.”
Byrne says Demme’s mentoring helped give him the confidence to try his hand at feature film directing himself, with 1986’s True Stories. “Jonathan helped me as I was developing True Stories," he explains. "I wrote a song for his film Something Wild [and] a score for Married to the Mob.”
Byrne continues, “Jonathan went on to make a lot more features—some hugely successful, others not so much. He interspersed these with a number of documentaries and music films. The documentaries are pure labors of love. They tend to be celebrations of unsung heroes…He often turned what would be a genre film into a very personal expression. His view of the world was open, warm, animated and energetic.
Byrne ends his essay with a simple message: “Jonathan, we’ll miss you.”
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