Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
Music/Lyrics: Talking Heads, Brian Eno
Vocals: Trey (lead), Fish, Mike, Page (backing)
Original Artist: Talking Heads
Original Album: Remain in Light (1980)
Albums: Live Phish 15
Historian: Mark Toscano, Elayne Best
The multi-layered, energetic opener to the Talking Heads’ Remain in Light album, this tune was mastered as the opener to the Halloween set on 10/31/96 by Phish with Karl Perazzo providing percussion and Dave Grippo and Gary Gazaway on horns. From Fishman’s count-in to its head-first collision with “Crosseyed and Painless,” the song remains ever steady and tight, quite a feat considering the tune’s manic arrangement and jagged rhythms.
“Born Under Punches” is a song driven by madness and paranoia, and combines unabashed energy and sonic density with a somber mood and instrumental restraint. The result is a track that embodies parallel aspects of Talking Heads’ 1980 sound – extroversion and introversion – in a single perpendicular moment. The raging, mathematical pressure gauge of their earlier art-punk sound collides with the rich rhythms, textures, and hues of African music that had begun to point them in a startlingly new direction. Although Remain in Light’s predecessor, 1979’s Fear of Music (host album to “Cities”) featured “I Zimbra,” a song with a similar influx of styles and ideas, “Born Under Punches” truly represents the band’s first brave steps into this new electric jungle setting.
Phish’s version was appropriately cataclysmic, setting the tone for the ensuing set, and Trey captured the feeling of the guitar solo on the album version quite nicely. The song never reappeared in Phish’s live show, although it was teased later that same Halloween night in the “Suzy.”