Here Lies Love With David Byrne and Imelda Marcos, A Theatrical Production From An Alternative View-Point
It was on BBC 1 Breakfast News that I watched an interview with iconic David Byrne - the front man of Talking Heads. Never actually meeting Imelda Marcos, he was inspired by her background and taste in music rather than her notorious love of extravagance. Here Lies Love, the musical, was the brainchild of David Byrne inspired by the famous Imelda Marcos.
In terms of a historical perspective, this extravagance of Imelda Marcos has been criticised - the people that she governed were desperately in need of food and shelter - such wastefulness, therefore, was as if placing salt in the poor people's wounds. It has been documented that she had a shoe fetish, for example, and proudly claimed ownership of 3000 pairs. David Byrne explains how he carefully managed to avoid this aspect of her persona and wanted to view this powerful lady in a different light - Imelda Marcos, the First Lady of the Philippines and how she arrived there.
David Byrne collaborated with Fat Boy Slim (The House Martins, DJ extraordinaire, Norman Cook) aiming to create something theatrical on CD. In fact, Here Lies Love has been performed four times on stage. Here Lies Love originally debuted at the Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts in Australia on March 10th 2006. It was further performed twice in Adelaide around the same time and then, lastly, at Carnegie Hall in New York on February 3rd 2007. The theatrical version has not been revisited since, although this could still be an aim in the future. For more on this, please take a look at the below video: Imelda Marcos; Here Lies Love.
If You Are Looking For Imelda Marcos 'The Public Figure', You Will Not Find It In 'Here Lies Love'.
Today this project focuses on David Byrne's book, Cd's and DVD on her rise to power and the person behind the media spotlight. If you are looking for Imelda Marcos 'the public figure' then you will not find it in 'Here Lies Love'. As usual, David Byrne explores the artistry that surrounded this very public figure and not the media hype. Byrne has always been notorious for his visual concepts and unique ways of exploring art. This is no exception.
Imelda Marcos, the first lady of the Philippines, was part of a regime in the 70's and 80's that was significant of corruption, extravagance and Marshall law. Money was frittered away on projects that were not of high priority at that time. Marcos lived the high life whilst her people suffered impoverishment. Read more about Imelda Marcos here.
This, however, was not what David Byrne wished to focus on. In the BBC News interview, he suggested that Here Lies Love was about how she managed to justify her eccentric lifestyle to herself and how she managed to arrive at that point. He further stated that he was ‘Fascinated with people in power and
what makes them tick’ (Quoted From BBC Breakfast) … 'she liked going
out to discos and clubs and even had a mirror ball installed in her New
town house'. For David Byrne, this is what intrigued him.
David Byrne On Imelda Marcos: ‘here is someone that – powerful person – brings their own soundtrack with them'.
David Byrne thought: ‘here is someone that – powerful person – brings their own soundtrack with them'...‘there is a story between ImeldaMarcos and the woman who raised her – Estrella Cumpas – when her mother passed away’ and Byrne looks at the strands around them rather than the politics with her husband. From her childhood, spent in poverty, and her rise to power to her ultimate departure from the palace, the project focuses on the relationship between the two - especially on key moments where Cumpas appears in the first Lady's life.
David Byrne's lyrics has been structured around actual quotes from the life of Imelda. This includes the project title - Here Lies Love for which it has been cited as the words that Marcus wishes to have engraved on her gravestone. This has been very cleverly interweaved into the songs rhythms and tones of the double CD.
Fat Boy Slim AKA Norman Cook Hits With Production!
'Here Lies Love' is a 22 song double CD, 100 page hardcover book with lyrics, photos & essays. It includes a DVD with 6 videos featuring songs from the album cut to archival and historical footage from the Philippines. Fat Boy Slim, Norman Cook, used his skills of production to cement the sound of the CD from the original concept of the show. Each song has its own theme and these relate to a sequence of events. Click Here Lies Love for the scene structure - song by song.
When recruiting for the project Byrne mentions that he got turned down by a number of people because the subject matter was controversial. David used the word ‘distasteful’ on the BBC interview and said this with a rye look in his eyes. He felt that he was criticised for 'not being critical’ enough, glamorising a woman who was so materialistic in an environment of poverty. However, the recruitment of artists must be commended with the album featuring performances by Santigold, Florence Welch (from Florence and The Machine), Steve Earle, St. Vincent, Natalie Merchant, Tori Amos, Sharon Jones, Nicole Atkins and others.
- "Dancing Together"
- Vocals by Sharon Jones
"Men Will Do Anything"
- Vocals by Alice Russell
"The Whole Man"
- Vocals by Kate Pierson
"Never So Big"
- Vocals by Sia
- Vocals by Santigold
- Vocals by
- Vocals by Nicole Atkins
- Vocals by Natalie Merchant
- Vocals by David Byrne & Shara Worden
"Why Don't You Love Me?"
- Vocals by Cyndi Lauper & Tori Amos
Here Lies Love On CDs!
- "Here Lies Love"
- Vocals by Florence Welch
"Every Drop of Rain"
- Vocals by Candie Payne & St. Vincent
"You'll Be Taken Care Of"
- Vocals by Tori Amos
"The Rose of Tacloban"
- Vocals by Martha Wainwright
"How Are You?"
- Vocals by Nellie McKay
"A Perfect Hand"
- Vocals by Steve Hearle
- Vocals by Cyndi Lauper
"When She Passed By"
- Vocals by Allison Moorer
"Walk Like a Woman"
- Vocals by Charmaine Clamor
"Don't You Agree?"
- Vocals by Roisin Murphy
- Vocals by Camille
"Ladies in Blue"
- Vocals by Theresa Andersson
Buy This Special Edition of Here Lies Love At Amazon!
The package includes the double disc CD, book and DVD. The book is a beautifully bound 100 paged hardback book with lyrics, photos and essays. This accompanies the DVD and Cd's. Amazon does a beautiful Special Edition of 'Here Lies Love' and can be purchased at the click of this button. Remember that Amazon has free delivery on many of their items (this one is included), a quality service and they provide the cheapest around. However, why not take a look for yourself? Just click on the Amazon link below and check it out!
© This work is covered under Creative Commons License