Once in a Lifetime

Talking Heads

About Once in a Lifetime

"Once in a Lifetime" is a song by the American rock band Talking Heads, produced and cowritten by Brian Eno. The lead single from Talking Heads' fourth studio album, Remain in Light (1980), it was released on February 2, 1981, through Sire Records. Eno and Talking Heads developed "Once in a Lifetime" through extensive jams, inspired by Afrobeat musicians such as Fela Kuti. David Byrne's lyrics and vocals were inspired by preachers delivering sermons. The music video, co-directed by Toni Basil, has Byrne dancing erratically over footage of religious rituals. "Once in a Lifetime" was certified silver in the UK in 2018. A live version, taken from the 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, charted in 1986 on the Billboard Hot 100. NPR named "Once in a Lifetime" one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lists it as one of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll". 


Year:
1980
4:19
50,026 
#238

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And you may find yourself 
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself 
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself 
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was

Water dissolving and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Under the water, carry the water
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again in the silent water
Under the rocks, and stones there is water underground

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself, "My God! What have I done?"

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again in to the silent water
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Look where my hand was
Time isn't holding up
Time isn't after us
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was

Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Once in a lifetime 
Letting the days go by
Letting the days go by

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Talking Heads

Talking Heads was an American New Wave and avant-garde band formed in 1975 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised David Byrne (vocals and guitar), Chris Frantz (drums), Tina Weymouth (bass) and Jerry Harrison (keyboards and guitar). Auxiliary musicians also regularly made appearances in concert and on the group's albums. The New Wave style of Talking Heads combined elements of punk, art rock, avant-garde, pop, funk, world music, and Americana. Frontman and songwriter David Byrne contributed whimsical, esoteric lyrics to the band's songs, and emphasized their showmanship through various multimedia projects and performances. more »

7 fans

Written by: Brian Eno, Christopher Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind


11 facts about this song

Album Release
"Once in a Lifetime" is a song from Talking Heads' fourth studio album called "Remain in Light," which was released in October 1980.
Song Lyrics
The song's lyrics were written by David Byrne, Talking Heads' lead singer, along with Brian Eno, who co-produced the album with the band.
Song Style
"Once in a Lifetime" and the entire "Remain in Light" album are known for their amalgamation of genres, including new wave, post-punk, and worldbeat. The song is celebrated for this genre-blending approach and is considered one of the band's defining works.
Music Video
The music video for "Once in a Lifetime" was heavily rotated on MTV. It featured David Byrne dancing and singing in a manner influenced by preachers and radio announcers, which added to the song's popularity.
Chart Performance
Despite the song's lasting fame and significance, it did not chart high when it was initially released. It only reached number 103 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under chart and 20 on the UK Singles Chart.
Cultural Impact
"Once in a Lifetime" has been sampled and covered by several artists, including Phish, Florence + the Machine, Kermit the Frog, and more. It has also been used in numerous TV shows and commercials, demonstrating its lasting cultural impact.
Signature Phrase
The line "same as it ever was" from the song is considered a signature phrase. Many people associate this line with David Byrne and Talking Heads.
Song Message
The song is often interpreted as a look at the monotony of a typical suburban lifestyle. Byrne himself described the song as being about a person experiencing a mid-life crisis.
Recognition
The song was ranked no. 345 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, reflecting its significance in the music history.
Song Interpretation
The repetitive nature of the song was intentional and meant to echo the themes of the lyrics - the routine, daily grind of middle-class existence. The song questions materialistic and comfortable lives by prompting its listeners to ask, "Well, how did I get here?"
Live Performances
In live performances, David Byrne often incorporated elements of theater into the song's presentation. This further elevated its reputation and listeners’ perceptions of the song.

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    Once in a Lifetime

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    Top Hot 100 Songs 1986

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