This was the only single to be lifted from the band's second studio album More Songs About Buildings and Food.
Interestingly, three other versions of the song were released around the same time by Bryan Ferry, Foghat and Levon Helm.
1977 Talking Heads: 77 #97 #66
1978 More Songs About Buildings and Food #29 #21
1979 Fear of Music #21 #33
1980 Remain in Light #19 #21
1983 Speaking in Tongues #15 #21
1985 Little Creatures #20 #10
1986 True Stories #28 #7
1988 Naked #19 #3
Chart positions shown are for the U.S. and UK respectively.
This classic art pop track features a truly insane new wave video that could only have been produced in the 80s. Frontman David Byrne adopted a geeky office worker style (a suit with a bow tie and specs) and performed a rather quirky (actually, it's bizarre!) dance routine, at times looking like an out-of-control Thunderbirds puppet.
The background contains arty imagery such as a fake ocean and multiple clones of Byrne dancing in sync, which were created using the limited video effects that were available back in the day, but very typical of the early eighties.
Produced by the legendary ambient music producer Brian Eno, Once In A Lifetime was the band's first hit in the UK, reaching #14, although it stalled at a rather unimpressive #103 in the U.S. despite rave reviews of the song by music critics. The song was also a moderate hit in several other countries, reaching #23 in Australia, #28 in Canada, #16 in Ireland and #24 in the Netherlands. The track was released as the lead single from Talking Head's fourth studio album Remain In Light.
A live version of the song was also released as a single in 1984, peaking at #91 on the Billboard Hot 100, although it didn't chart here in the UK.
Talking Heads would have to wait another four years before breaking into the British Top 40 again, with Road To Nowhere reaching #6 in 1985, becoming their biggest ever hit.
I see many reviews of the band suggesting that they never really achieved massive mainstream success. As a singles band they certainly didn't, but with five Gold and two Platinum albums, one could hardly describe the band as unsuccessful.
The second and final single from the Speaking in Tongues album, This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), charted higher in the UK (#51) than it did in the U.S. where it stalled at #62.
The imaginitive video won the "Video of the year" award at the MTV Video Music Awards 1986. Director Stephen R. Johnson went on to produce the influential video Sledgehammer for Peter Gabriel in 1986, applying similar editing techniques and this won numerous awards.
The band's seventh studio album, True Stories, reached #7 in the UK album charts and became the second album in a row to reach #2 in Australia. The lead single, Wild Wild Life, just failed to break into the UK Top 40, stalling at #43, although it reached #25 in the U.S. No other single release from the album charted in the UK.
Naked was the eighth and final studio album by Talking Heads. Released in 1988, it became the highest-charting album for the band in the UK, peaking at #3, although neither of the two singles from the album became major hits. Blind reached #59 and (Nothing But) Flowers peaked at #79.
In the U.S., Naked reached #19, but broke into the top ten in at least seven countries.