Covering David Byrne: A concert wish list

The most distinctive artists often produce the best music to cover. There’s no point in trying to out-Dylan Bob Dylan, for instance, so when a musician wants to take a crack at “Like a Rolling Stone,” there’s a freedom that comes with a lack of expectations of fidelity. Turn it into a drop-laden dubstep banger? Why not? It’s expected that the cover artist will take the song and change it up.

There’s no one who makes music quite like David Byrne. From the early days of Talking Heads through “Here Lies Love,” his musical about Imelda Marcos, his voice and vision has been singular. That’s why the prospect of an all-star lineup of musicians reworking his songs for Monday’s fundraiser “The Music of David Byrne and Talking Heads” is tantalizing: With a roster of musicians associated with everything from country to hip-hop, there could be some fascinating experiments seen on the Carnegie Hall stage. Here’s a wish list for a fraction of the talent scheduled to appear:

CeeLo Green: ‘Strange Overtones’

The falsetto that Green has used to such great effect on so many Gnarls Barkley songs could be put to good use on this standout from Byrne and Brian Eno’s collaborative effort.

Bebel Gilberto: ‘The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter’

The Brazilian bossa nova star has worked with Thievery Corporation before, so she can likely slide right into this collaboration between Byrne and the downtempo duo.

Beth Orton: ‘Sax and Violins’

The jazzy final release from the Heads is begging for a rework by one of the leading lights of the “folktronica” movement. 

The Roots: ‘The One Who Broke Your Heart’

The Byrne/St. Vincent collaboration “Love This Giant” didn’t get enough attention. Handing off this upbeat, full-band number to the legendary Roots crew will get the audience dancing in the aisles.


Santigold: ‘Psycho Killer’

With its iconic bass line, it should take little for Santigold to take the Heads track to the islands. 

Everyone: ‘Wild Wild Life’

The biggest hit from the “True Stories” soundtrack may have been best known for its karaoke-themed music video, featuring lip-synching from film star John Goodman and plenty of others. So with “house band” Antibalas on the beat, why not have everyone grab a couplet? 
IF YOU GO: The Music of David Byrne and Talking Heads is March 23 at 8 p.m. at Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Ave., 212-247-7800, sold out.