Talking Heads David Byrne Talks on TED

- May 14, 2012

“David, TED and everyone else…”

I listened to a David Byrne TED Talk this morning – it was very insightful to me as a musician. Byrne, the Talking Heads instrumentalist and songwriter from 1975 to 1991, spoke about how architecture helped music evolve. Talking Heads, dubbed a “New Wave” band at its inception, stayed relevant, I think, as much because of Byrne’s creativity and intelligence as for any other reason.

TED is, of course, not a real person, but stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design” and it is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate what it considers "ideas worth spreading."

If you are not familiar with TED talks, they started in 1984 as a one-off event and the conference was held annually from 1990 in Monterey, California. Past presenters have included Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, educator Salman Khan, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners. TED's current curator is the British former computer journalist and magazine publisher Chris Anderson. I use them as early Monday morning intellectual exercises. The expansion to so many people in the arts doing TED talks has piqued my interest more and more.

The speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. You can search the archives at

The next wave of TED is TED X, described on the TED site as “independently organized TED events.” TED X has a broader reach and includes thinkers at every level of society. The events are everywhere. One of our own local heroes, Nancy Judd, who started the Recycled Art Show in Santa Fe, has done a TED X event. A public artist and environmental educator, Judd creates couture recycled fashion designs from trash. Look for more TED X events upcoming in New Mexico. Just Google them and keep your eyes and ears open for the announcements. They are, sometimes, easy to miss.

TED is a great way to start your brain at the beginning of any week, or to sum up your thoughts and experiences of a day, a week or a month. They are also quite inspiring. They are like a paraphrase of  the old anti-drug commercials: “This is your brain...this is your brain on drugs.” In this case, substitute: “This is your brain...this your brain on TED.”