What does Burning Down the House mean?

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Talking Heads: Burning Down the House Meaning

Song Released: 1983

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Burning Down the House Lyrics

Watch out you might get what you're after
Cool baby strange but not a stranger
I'm an ordinary guy
Burning down the house

Hold tight wait 'til the party's over
Hold tight we're in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down...


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    Jul 7th, 22:19 report

    7/7/2020 Wall Street Journal:
    … David Byrne: title phrase is “a metaphor for destroying something safe”..”An expression of liberation, to break free from whatever was holding you back”
    However, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz per the article went to a Parliament funkadelic concert at Madison Square Garden and heard the audience chanting different things, one of which included “burn down the house “. Chris Frantz subsequently began shouting this to get the creative juices going at one jam session.


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    May 25th, 5:25am report

    I think the house he's singing about is his body and how cocaine is ravaging his " house" You're burning down your " house" (body) doing cocaine.Since supposedly the band used cocaine they understand the lie that is cocaine.


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    Apr 6th, 4:09pm report

    Man he s talking about making the lady burn down the house that is her image or perception of good repute. He s telling her beforehand hold tight wait till later it’s coming..walk around wet it’s comin ..of course dudes walking to work are going to cat call what did you expect walking around like that, burst into flames..It’s the macho era people you can’t make it into something that it wasn’t. It’s exactly how things were back then ..”you look hot I like you I know you’re trying to look like your acceptable in society but I’m going to get you after the party because I can tell who u are by how u dress and the fact that tour are super hornet since sex is socially a taboo” that’s pretty much the song.


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    Feb 26th, 2:15am report

    Sounds as he's going out for adventure and no matter how extreme it might get he's riding it out, even if there's a safe way out of a storm he's riding it out, a list for seeing for yourself.


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    Mar 22nd, 2019 3:07am report

    It's about a guy who goes postal after realizing he's had enough of feeling subservient to his employers. He is bragging beforehand to his coworkers and cites television (media) as an inspiration ( or validation) of this idea he has of personal fulfillment and vindication...


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    Nov 24th, 2016 11:36pm report

    I think if you're looking for the meaning of this song, you're reading something into it that just isn't there. Remember this is from a band whose next album was Stop Making Sense.

    But if you really want to read something interesting into this anyway, what makes sense to me is this: David Byrne chose a variation of the P-Funk audience chant "Burn down the house" which fit the meter, but that phrase itself is interesting because it is possibly informed by the centuries old idea of burning or tearing down your "house", which in the case of Rumi is a metaphor for the ego that separates you from unity with the universe:

    The Ship Sunk In Love

    Should Love's heart rejoice unless I burn?
    For my heart is Love's dwelling.
    If You will burn Your house, burn it, Love!
    Who will say, 'It's not allowed'?
    Burn this house thoroughly!
    The lover's house improves with fire.
    From now on I will make burning my aim,
    From now on I will make burning my aim,
    for I am like the candle: burning only makes me brighter.
    Abandon sleep tonight; traverse fro one night
    the region of the sleepless.
    Look upon these lovers who have become distraught
    and like moths have died in union with the One Beloved.
    Look upon this ship of God's creatures
    and see how it is sunk in Love.

    Tear Down This House

    Tear down this house. A hundred thousand new houses can be built from the transparent yellow gemstone buried underneath it. The only way to get to that is to do the work of demolishing and then digging under the foundation. With that value in hand all the new construction will be done without effort. And anyway, sooner or later this house will fall on its own. The jewel treasure will be uncovered but it won’t be yours then. The buried wealth is your pay for doing the demolition, the pick and shovel work.. If you wait and just let it happen, you’ll bite your hand and say “I didn’t do as I knew I should have.” This is a rented house. You don’t own the deed. You have a lease and you’ve make your living sewing patches on torn clothing. Yet only a few feet underneath are two veins of pure red and bright gold gemstone. Take the pickaxe and pry the foundation . You’ve go to quit this seamstress work. What does the patch-sewing mean, you ask? Eating and drinking. The heavy cloak of the body is always getting torn. You patch it with food and other restless ego satisfactions. Rip up one board from the shop floor and look into the basement. You’ll see two glints in the dirt.

    Rumi, 1250


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    Aug 13th, 2015 8:08pm report

    About a dysfunctional relationship, one that shouldn't be happening but it did or will and she will have to deal with the fall-out. What did she expect? Sometimes you have to burn down the house and ride out the storm in order to experience what you have longed for.


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    Aug 5th, 2012 8:21pm report

    I think David read Fahrenheit 451 and added his own twist.


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    Jul 10th, 2011 7:56pm report

    seams to tell you about runing away from home
    breaking out
    trying something new
    leaving the secure shelter
    facing new unforeseen experiences(baby what did you expect)
    wich makes return to former state impossible
    (burning down the house)
    cause the pain of staying enclosed, and the psychopressure it produces(gona burst into flames) is worse than the pain of loosing security (fighting fire with fire)

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