1. Tree (Today Is an Important Occasion)

Today is an important occasion.
She thinks that she must wear the right clothes.
The right combination of clothes
...will make her lucky.
But there are specific kinds of luck.
And different kinds are needed
for different occasions:
‘A blue dress for intuition’
‘The grey shirt and maroon slacks
for making strong statements’
‘The navy pullover and the woolen skirt
for discovering mystery.’
She thinks of what she wore
on a similar occasion
like the one she will be involved in today.
Particularly a similar occasion
that was successful for her.
She lies on the bed
and imagines herself in a variety of outfits.
She quickly narrows
the range of possibilities.
She tries them on
in a few combinations.
The striped shirt
and corduroy slacks.
The red dress.
She leaves the house...
The outcome is certain.

2. In the Upper Room


3. The Sound of Business

They were driving south on the highway
Their business was in another town
Bigger than the town they were driving from
Business took place during office hours in both towns
This drive was considered business
The feeling of passing other cars was also considered business
A feeling of business being done
The feeling of drifting slowly through a field of moving vehicles
This was the real speed...the speed of business
Not the numbers on the speedometer
One of them was playing with the radio
Slowly changing the channel from one station to another
Sometimes listening to both channels at once
On one channel a man was talking to another man on the telephone.

The other channel was playing oldies:

“Gone for Good”
“Listening Wind”
“Puzzle Power”
“Beechwood Serenade”
“Sunshine and Sugar”
“Golden Windows”
“Taste of Believing”
“Carnival Girl”
“Love Walks Away”
“Wishing Well”
“Knew You Could”
“A Face Like That”
“Dark Highway”
“Shakin’ Venus”
“Colored Wheels”
“Visit Me Quick”
“Lonesome Money”
“School of Heartache”
“Painted Smiles”

The sound of business being done.

4. Social Studies

I thought that if I ate the food of the area I was visiting
That I might assimilate the point of view of the people there
As if the point of view was somehow in the food
So I would make no choices myself regarding what food I ate
I would simply follow the examples, of those around me
I would study menus very carefully
Making note of important differences and similarities
When shopping at the supermarket
I felt a great desire to walk off with someone else's groceries
So I could study them at length
And study their effects on me
As though if I ate their groceries I would become that person; until I finished their groceries
And we might find ourselves going to the same places
Running into one another at the movies
Or in a shopping mall
Reading the same books
Watching the same T.V. programs
Wearing the same clothes
Travelling to the same places
And taking the same pictures
Getting sick at the same time
And getting well again simultaneously
Finding ourselves attracted to the same people
Working at the same job
And making the same amount of money
Living identical lives as long as the groceries lasted

5. (The Gift of Sound) Where the Sun Never Goes Down

Not everyone notices
As things drift slowly in and out of focus.
Being in the theater is more important than knowing what is going on in the movie.
The sound in the theater is very loud.
It builds up because it can't get out of the theater.
The actors talk.
We can still hear what they said a minute ago
This happens in any closed room...sound never leaves it
Until someone goes out to get some soda or popcorn.
Some conversations escape as people leave
And enter the lobby.
When the movie is over
And everyone leaves the theater
The accumulated sound leaves with them
And spreads out across the parking lot
To become forever part of the landscape
In no particular order.
The film is a gift to the surrounding community.

6. Theadora Is Dozing


7. Admiral Perry


8. I Bid You Goodnight


9. Things to Do (I've Tried)

Number 1. Try to (walking quickly) be
Number 2. Count to ten, smile, count to ten
Number 3. Big shoes
Number 4. Watching big shoes
Number 5. Buying things and spending money
Number 6. Counting things
Number 7. Inventing facial expressions
Number 8. Parking
Number 9. Fixing things
Number 10. Writing letters
Number 11. Studying maps, inventing street names
Number 12. Scraping the garden
Number 13. Putting the garden in the house
Number 14. Pointy things
Number 15. Bumpy things
Number 16. Broken things
Number 17. Finding the bank
Number 18. Finding the window
Number 19. Writing a book
Number 20. Finding the book
Number 21. Little houses
Number 22. Counting the houses
Number 23. Drinking things
Number 24. Watching other things
Number 25. Putting houses next to bumpy things
Number 26. Shaking things next to other things

12. In The Future

In the future everyone will have the same haircut and the same clothes.
In the future everyone will be very fat from the starchy diet..
In the future everyone will be very thin from not having enough to eat...
In the future it will be next to impossible to tell girls from boys, even in bed.
In the future men will be “super-masculine” and women will be “ultra-feminine.”
In the future half of us will be “mentally ill.”
In the future there will be no religion or spiritualism of any sort.
In the future the “psychic arts” will be put to practical use.
In the future we will not think that “nature” is beautiful.
In the future the weather will always be the same.
In the future no one will fight with anyone else.
In the future there will be an atomic war.
In the future water will be expensive.
In the future all material items will be free.
In the future everyone's house will be like a little fortress.
In the future everyone’s house will be a total entertainment center.

In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very happy.
In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very filthy.
In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very healthy.
In the future TV will be so good that the printed word will function as an art form only.
In the future people with boring jobs will take pills to relieve the boredom.
In the future no one will live in cities
In the future there will be mini-wars going on everywhere.
In the future everyone will think about love all the time.

In the future political and other decisions will be based completely on opinion polls.
In the future there will be machines which will produce a religious experience in the user.
In the future there will be groups of wild people, living in the wilderness.
In the future there will be only paper money, which will be personalized.
In the future there will be a classless society.

In the future everyone will only get to go home once a year.
In the future everyone will stay home all the time.
In the future we will not have time for leisure activities.
In the future we will only “work” one day a week.
In the future our bodies will be shriveled up but our brains will be bigger.
In the future there will be starving people everywhere.
In the future people will live in space.
In the future no one will be able to afford TV.
In the future the helpless will be killed.
In the future everyone will have their own style of way-out clothes.
In the future we will make love to anything anytime anywhere.
In the future there will be so much going on that no one will be able to keep track of it.

13. Tree (Reprise)


​Bonus Tracks

14. I’ve Tried (Things to Do)


15. Tic Toc 2 (In the Future)


16. Whisper

Kabuki Instrumental

17. Misterias

Kabuki Instrumental

18. Faust Dance

Kabuki Instrumental

19. Ghost

Kabuki Instrumental

20. Super

Kabuki Instrumental


This CD/DVD edition of The Knee Plays features a slide show of black-and-white photographs by JoAnn Verburg, who shot stills of the 1984 Walker Arts Center production at regular intervals, creating a thorough visual document of the piece..

The CD includes the 13-track score as well as seven previously unavailable instrumental tracks recorded for The Knee Plays.

MUSICIANS: Voice: David Byrne Trumpets on 1-4, 11: Chuck Findley, Nolan Smith, Ray Brown, Rich Cooper; on 5-10, 12: Harry Kim, Nolan Smith, Ray Brown, Rich Cooper Saxophones on 1-4, 11: Pete Christlieb, Ernie Watts, Don Myrick; on 5-10, 12: Pete Christlieb, Jackie Kelso Baritones: Ernie Fields, Bill Green Trombones: Phil Teil, David Stout, Fred Wesley, Garnett Brown, Dana Hughes Drums: Paul Humphrey Percussion: Bobbye Hall. Chuck Findley appears courtesy of Monterey Records. Ernie Watts appears courtesy of Qwest Records Kabuki Bonus Tracks: Voice: David Byrne Instruments: Ookawa, Oodaiko, Bells, Emu II, Rhodes, Fue, Taiko, Tsuzumi, Vocals, Bowed Cymbals

STUDIO CREDITS: Produced by David Byrne. Recorded at One on One Studio & Studio Sound Recorders, North Hollywood, 1984. Engineers: Joel Moss, Mark Wolfson.Mixed by David Byrne and Dominick Maita at RPM Studio, 1984, assisted by Mike Krowiak. Arranged by David Byrne and David Blumberg. Conducted by David Blumberg.Kabuki bonus tracks recorded by A.T. Takagi at JAK Recording Studio, Tokyo, 1983, assisted by Nakamura. Mixed by Pat Dillett at Kampo Studio, NYC, 2007. Originally mastered & re-mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, NYC, 2007.

PUBLISHING: All compositions by David Byrne except as indicated. © & (P) Nonesuch Records for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside the United States. Published by Index Music, Inc. (ASCAP) except for non-Kabuki instrumental bonus tracks published by Moldy Fig Music (BMI). Kabuki bonus tracks: © & (P) David Byrne.Track 2: Trad., Arr. by The Baptist Methodist Choir Church of God/Byrne/BlumbergTrack 5: Trad., Arr. by Clara Hudman "The Georgia Peach"/Byrne/Blumberg Track 6: Trad., Arr. by Ensemble of the Bulgarian Rep./Byrne/Blumberg Track 8: Trad., Arr. by the Pindar Family /Byrne/Blumberg Track 9: Trad., Arr. by Swan's Silvertone Singers/Byrne/Blumberg.

CD PRODUCTION: Graphic Design: David Byrne and Danielle Spencer Music Production: Frank Hendler Production Coördination: Sarah Resnick Management:Maine Road Management Cover photograph © 1984 JoAnn Verburg. CD Insert: All drawings by David Byrne and All photographs by JoAnn Verburg except the following:Storyboards by Robert Wilson Lion collage in Knee Play 1 by Adelle Lutz Scene drawings in Knee Plays 1, 8, 13, and inlay tray Bird drawings in Knee Play 4 by Jun Matsuno Photographs of Knee Plays 5, 10 and the Tokyo workshop by Glenn Halverson for the Walker Art Center Photograph of Knee Play 7 by Manjit Jari Photograph of Knee Play 9 by Richard M. Feldman Photographs of Knee Plays 3, 8, 11, and 12 by JoAnn Verburg for the Walker Art Center Photograph of David and Bob by Annie Leibovitz

DVD: Performance: Produced and performed at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, April 26-28, 1984. Scenario: Robert Wilson Music and Words: David Byrne Direction: Robert Wilson Artistic Assistance: Adelle Lutz Choreography: Suzushi Hanayagi Design: Robert Wilson, David Byrne, and Jun Matsuno Lighting: Robert Wilson and Julie Archer Narration: David Byrne and members of the company Dancers: Donald Byrd, Maria Cheng, Frank Conversano, Gail Donnenfeld, Denise Gustafson, Marilyn Habermas-Scher, Suzushi Hanayagi, Cho Kyoo-Hyun, Satoru Shimazaki, Jim Lieberthal (understudy) Scenery Props: Steve Beers, Justine Denny, Vince Di Gabriele, Chuck Giles, Scott D. Latendresse, Jamie Reich, Arthur Ridley, Diane Walker Production Interns: Matthew Buckingham, Thomas Ciancutti, Halldor Laxness, Susan Meade Costumes: Smaranda Branescu, Bobette Tylee, Ann Wallace Neon: B. Jirka and Associates Operation: Chuck Helm, Walter Napiorkowski, Scott Iverson Technical Director: Tom Anderson Assistant Production Coordinator: Charles Otte Production Coordinator: Julia Gillett Executive Producer: Robert Stearns All photographs: ©1984 JoAnn Verburg Video Program Compilation: ©2007 David Byrne, JoAnn Verburg, and Robert Wilson

WEBSITE: Design: Peggy Tan and Antonio Serna from Freckles Studio Knee Plays Flash interactive presentation: Freckles Studio. Time Lapse Slideshow: Note DVD credits. Flash Production by

THANKS: David Bither, Robert Hurwitz, David Whitehead, Jörn Weisbrode, Jason Loeffler, and The Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation, Karina Beznicki, Robert Edridge-Waks, Ronen Givony, Eli Cane, Ms. Lia Sweet, Nan Lanigan & Cathy DePriest at RZO, Robert Stearns, Steve Baker, Gary Goetzman, Howard Gilman Foundation, Robyn Brentano, Lindsay Kaplan, Daniel Smith, Jill Vuchetich

September Radio David Byrne Presents: Covered Up

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