Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Chris Frantz: The first time we heard Kraftwerk we were in college at Rhode Island School of Design. We drove to New York in Tina’s family van with some friends who were in the painting club with us. We went to the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art and ended up in Soho at a place called The Kitchen, where we later played with Talking Heads, and saw a performance by John Cage. Soho was still in its early days then, it wasn’t all built up the way it is now with fashion boutiques. We went to the Spring Street Bar, as the drinking age was 18, at the time and we thought maybe we’d see some famous artists. It had a jukebox and someone had put in a row of quarters and just hit ‘Autobahn’ over and over like 20 times. So the song, this great, very long song, played the entire time we were in the bar and it made a big impression on us.
Around the time we were forming Tom Tom Club in 1981, we were spending a lot of time in the Bahamas at Compass Point Studios, and we met this interesting artist called Emil Schult. It turned out that he was not only the guy who designed artwork for Kraftwerk but had written a number of the lyrics. And then we were on tour with Talking Heads, and maybe Tina you should complete this story - we were in Germany and Ralf Hütter came backstage after our show.
TW: This was before we met Emil. At that time, David Byrne thought lyrics were everything. So I thought maybe Ralf’s were like that, maybe he takes a lot of pride in lyrics. They were about a different world concept and sounded both throwaway and prophetic. But the music was compositionally so brilliant and I should have said something about that, but instead I said “oh I love your lyrics” to try to break the ice. He said, “what?! The lyrics are stupid!” and I didn’t dare open my mouth again.