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Thomas Dolby: “Love Is a Loaded Pistol”


I’ve been playing TED for nearly a decade, and I’ve very rarely played any new songs of my own. And that was largely because there weren’t any. (Laughter) So I’ve been busy with a couple of projects, and one of them was this: The Nutmeg. A 1930s ship’s lifeboat, which I’ve been restoring in the garden of my beach house in England. And, so now, when the polar ice caps melt, my recording studio will rise up like an ark, and I’ll float off into the drowned world like a character from a J.G. Ballard novel. During the day, the Nutmeg collects energy from solar panels on the roof of the wheelhouse, and from a 450 watt turbine up the mast. So that when it gets dark, I’ve got plenty of power. And I can light up the Nutmeg like a beacon. And so I go in there until the early hours of the morning, and I work on new songs. I’d like to play to you guys, if you’re willing to be the first audience to hear it. (Applause) It’s about Billie Holiday. And it appears that, some night in 1947 she left her physical space and was missing all night, until she reappeared in the morning. But I know where she was. She was with me on my lifeboat. And she was hot. (Music) ♫ Billie crept softly ♫ ♫ into my waking arms ♫ ♫ warm like a sip of sour mash ♫ ♫ Strange fruit for ♫ ♫ a sweet hunk of trash ♫ ♫ Panic at the stage door ♫ ♫ of Carnegie Hall ♫ ♫ “Famous Jazz Singer Gone AWOL” ♫ ♫ Must have left the building ♫ ♫ body and soul ♫ ♫ On a creaky ♫ ♫ piano stool tonight ♫ ♫ as the moon is my ♫ ♫ only witness ♫ ♫ She was breathing ♫ ♫ in my ear ♫ ♫ “This time it’s love” ♫ ♫ But love is a loaded pistol ♫ ♫ By daybreak she’s gone ♫ ♫ Over the frozen river, home ♫ ♫ Me and Johnny Walker ♫ ♫ See in the new age ♫ ♫ alone ♫ ♫ Stay with me ♫ ♫ again tonight ♫ ♫ Billie, time, ♫ ♫ time is a wily trickster ♫ ♫ Still an echo ♫ ♫ in my heart says, ♫ ♫ “This time it’s love” ♫ (Applause)

87 thoughts on “Thomas Dolby: “Love Is a Loaded Pistol”

  1. In before: This isn't an inspirational TED talk full of world changing ideas.

    I like that you feature some music at your get-togethers…the audience needs a break sometimes and it's nice to see Dolby hasn't atrophied.

  2. Let us tell Dolby how to appreciate Billie Holiday, an innovator herself.
    Purists hated Mozart in his day.

  3. I am not big on most ted talks music and art pieces. I honestly do not understand their appeal, however I can say half the people here "hatin" do not even know who billy holiday is.

  4. Not the greatest singer around, but the music from the instruments is beautiful.

  5. Not exactly the most entertaining performer. But who ever said the E in TED stood for entertainment, anyway!? 😛

  6. He's not a very strong singer, but if he really hasn't performed in decades, can you expect anything more? Reminds me of old lounge music from the 50s, really not sure where you guys are getting the 'emotionless' bits from.

  7. SHE BLINDED ME WITH BILLIE HOLIDAY! Hyperactive! Honestly, THOMAS DOLBY is a TED talks performer? 😛

  8. Wtf ? What is the anxiety of an old hippie to do with love? He might be loaded as a pistol but not with love. His facial expression rather showing hate to humans (that is why he lives in a boat and dreaming to swim away from drowning world). And what is all this to do with Talks? Oo.. Is it about self contained sustainable life forms?

  9. have u guys ever heard thomas dolby's synth-pop music? do u guys even know who klaus nomi was? i think what he is trying to do is to follow ryuichi sakamoto's path after YMO. dont just start hating when there is someone who hates it.

  10. @MrStartingGun Yes they do don't they? It's as if everyone forgets that the 'E' in TED stands for 'Entertainment'.

  11. @DimitriRytsk TED stands for Technology ENTERTAINMENT and Design! Not all the talks have to be about genetically modified solar powered nano tech tele dildonics.

  12. @madhatterten True. Or even who Thomas Dolby is! For all those who think him untalented, they should watch the video of "Hyperactive" and realise it was made THIRTY BLEEDIN YEARS AGO!

  13. @defaultoasis
    Of cause ryuichi sakamoto's self pity of a nuclear defeated-suppressed defenseless Japan is very close to this guy. What or who did suppressed him and why people should share his sorrow?

  14. @DimitriRytsk
    What or who should share your hatred or anger?
    and why dont u name the Beatles song that YMO covered to prove that Ryuichi Sakamoto has or had a "self pity of a nuclear defeated-suppressed defenseless Japan". Do you even know what YMO stands for? Ryuichi Sakamoto did much more than the mere Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, thats how its done.

  15. @defaultoasis
    People find it sound like from a game. Most of games made in Japan. And that is the only thing this guy got right by coping Japanese YMO theme, perhaps just because it came with the music software he used. Which makes this performance a karaoke?
    Is sinning a karaoke on Beatles or YMO tunes earns a RESPECT?!

  16. The musical composition is intelligent, well round educated, yet not trying to break boundary so much to make it unrelatable. It's hard to be understood when ur works already rosed above the limit of the common man with their typical Beattles.

  17. I suspect that Dolby hasn't done much since the 80s because he was way ahead of his time back then. The Flat Earth remains one of my top 10 all-time favourite albums and it was great to see him again here. Loved his reference to JG Ballard's The Drowned World, a novel that was also decades ahead of its time.

  18. @Quesadilla1773 He did a new version of Flat Earth recently… you want to see some emotion, it's here on YouTube somewhere.

  19. The chord and melodic progressions are genius. All unified to create a maturely poetic feeling, instead of the usual spritual wanna-be with generic chord changes.

  20. @Nosestoner Deaf? He says at at avout 00.25l he pronounces it like "decayed" i.e. stressing the second syllable.

  21. The song is beautiful. The melody lines are very sophisticated and haunting.

    It's nice to hear the musician who wrote it, sing it, but if he really wants this to rise to the piece of art it can be, he should look for someone to record it who has a voice whose instrument is more developed and fine. A voice that has the emotional capacity and subtlety of a violin.

    Even so, it is still beautiful.

  22. @Hexidous Thomas hasn't recorded much in decades but has continued to performed on and off many times over the years and also recently. The last full length recordings he did were the Astronauts and Heretics album and The Gate to the Mind's Eye soundtrack. I like this recent song of his, kind of reminds me of "I Scare Myself", but I do miss those synthpop days of The Golden Age of Wireless.

  23. I would like to point out that TMDR is the one for people to thank for the nifty ringtone on their cell phones and THEN moan about how they don't like his music. I've enjoyed Thomas Dolby since his first album (funny how that word is still in the collective lexicon) way back when and he has only gotten better with age. Thanks Thomas, you keep writing music, I'll keep listening and buying it.

  24. Beautifully written and performed! I grew up in the 80's and never really got into TD. I was more of a DM fan, but this is seriously inspiring. Nothing but respect and wishes for continued success to Thomas Dolby. I will be buying the new album for sure.

  25. Suddenly feeling the urge to buy a dictionary. My own vocab can't destribe them. The artistic experience starts way before the song. His introduction to his lifeboat only increases the poetic atmosphere that his song breath.

  26. @nialldcrowley On the contrary, you've really swallowed ultra-political, science-denying bullshit specifically designed for the consumption of credulous morons. Shame.

  27. I personally like the song and love Dolby. But I think the dislikes may be coming somewhat from those who think TEDTalks is politically motivated from the left wing. And calling people fucking deaf minimizes your excellent comment about the song being beautiful,

  28. Love it. Thomas, you're looking and sounding great. Say hello to Madame Ben Wa for me!

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