David Byrne has claimed that the wealthiest section of New York’s population has crushed the city’s creative energy.
Byrne, who formed Talking Heads in the US city in the 1970s, expressed his feelings in an opinion piece published by The Guardian. In the article, extracts of which you can read below, Byrne says he fears that New York is becoming increasingly dictated by wealth and not culture, adding that he will leave the city if he perceives that is is getting worse.
“The city is a body and a mind – a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it,” Byrne writes.
“Unfortunately, we’re getting to a point where many of New York’s citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long,” he adds. “The physical part of our city – the body – has been improved immeasurably. I’m a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bikeshare program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top 1 per cent.”
Byrne ends on a positive note though, claiming that be still believes New York can recover and become more like the city he remembers from 30 years ago. “Can New York change its trajectory a little bit, become more inclusive and financially egalitarian? Is that possible? I think it is. It’s still the most stimulating and exciting place in the world to live and work, but it’s in danger of walking away from its greatest strengths. The physical improvements are happening – though much of the crumbling infrastructure still needs fixing. If the social and economic situation can be addressed, we’re halfway there.”
David Byrne’s most recent musical project is a collaboration with US musician St Vincent. The pair released their debut album ‘Love This Giant’ in 2012 and headlined the End Of The Road festival in August of this year.