Amazon’s new Open Road compilation, due Friday, features 30 cover songs tailored for road trips, including previously shared cuts by White Reaper and My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel. It also contains a lilting version of the Talking Heads’ 1985 classic “Road to Nowhere” by Hamilton Leithauser, which EW is excited to premiere below.
“When I was doing this song, I realized there really isn’t any other band in the world that I’ve tried to rip off more than the Talking Heads in my career — and [have] had basically zero success,” the Walkmen singer tells EW of his connection to the Talking Heads. “There’s been more four-tracks in my life that have been called ‘Talking Heads Ripoff 1,’ ‘Talking Heads Ripoff 2,’ or ‘Talking Heads Guitar,’ ‘Talking Heads Drums,’ and it’s never worked out. I’ve never sounded a thing like them. But there’s no band I’ve tried to sound like more.”
When Amazon approached Leithauser about covering “Road to Nowhere,” he seized the opportunity to record a track by one of his favorite bands that he admits was “sort of out of my wheelhouse.” “They’ve got such a great way of repeating their lyrics and their little music parts in a way that’s so deceptively simple,” he explains. “I had to restructure the order of the [song’s] parts because it sounded ridiculous. I originally tried out their order and I wasn’t getting the mileage that they get.” In the end, Leithauser grafted his shambling style onto a “non-traditional structure” to arrive at his unique interpretation of the song.
“Road to Nowhere” follows I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, Leithauser’s collaborative album with former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, which was one of EW’s favorite records of 2016. As for a proper follow-up, Leithauser is mum on details but promises great things. “About halfway through working on I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, I started writing songs by myself on the side, because Rostam and I would take all these long breaks,” he says. “I have a good amount of material and I’m working with a few other people right now and that’s pretty exciting. I think I’ve got a good thing in the oven.”
Hear Leithauser’s version of “Road to Nowhere” above and catch Open Road in its entirety when it drops on Amazon this Friday.