My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (album)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts is a 1981 album by Brian Eno and David Byrne, titled after Amos Tutuola's 1954 novel of the same name.

The album extensively incorporates human voices. Vocals include commercial recordings of Arabic singers, radio disk jockeys and an exorcist. Critic John Bush describes My Life in the Bush of Ghosts as "[a] pioneering work for countless styles connected to electronics, ambience, and Third World music."



In the early 1980s, Talking Heads' main writer and lead singer David Byrne recorded My Life in the Bush of Ghosts in collaboration with the band's producer of the time, Brian Eno. It was strongly influenced by musical styles outside the standard "rock" genre, employing African-style percussion and Afro-American funk rhythms. It is also notable as one of the first rock albums to make extensive use of the then novel technology of sampling, incorporating vocal and musical samples from a wide range of sources including Arabic music. Dub music, a more atmospheric offshoot of reggae, was also appropriated as a rhythmic and production influence by many electronic musicians and underground rock bands of the era, particularly in the United Kingdom, where reggae had achieved mainstream success.

Track listing

Original LP (1981)

All tracks written by Eno/Byrne except as indicated. Notes below indicated the voices sampled, from the liner notes:

Side one
  1. "America Is Waiting" (arr. Eno, Byrne, Bill Laswell, Tim Wright, David Van Tieghem) – 3:36
  2. "Mea Culpa" – 3:35
    • Inflamed caller and smooth politician replying, both unidentified. Radio call-in show, New York, July 1979.
  3. "Regiment" (Eno, Byrne, Michael "Busta Cherry" Jones / arranged by Eno, Byrne, Jones, Chris Frantz and Robert Fripp) – 3:56
    • Dunya Yunis, Lebanese mountain singer, from The Human Voice in the World of Islam (Tangent Records TGS131)
  4. "Help Me Somebody" – 4:18
    • Reverend Paul Morton, broadcast sermon, New Orleans, June 1980.
  5. "The Jezebel Spirit" – 4:55
    • Unidentified exorcist, New York, September 1980.
Side two
  1. "Qu'ran" – 3:46
    • Algerian Muslims chanting the Qur'an. (same source as track 3)
  2. "Moonlight in Glory" – 4:19
  3. "The Carrier" – 3:30
    • Dunya Yunis. (same source as track 3)
  4. "A Secret Life" – 2:30
  5. "Come with Us" – 2:38
    • Unidentified radio evangelist, San Francisco, April 1980
  6. "Mountain of Needles" – 2:35

In the 1982 second edition, the track "Qu'ran"—which features samples of Qur'anic recital—was removed at the request of the Islamic Council of Great Britain. In its place "Very, Very Hungry" (the B-side of "The Jezebel Spirit" 12" EP) was substituted. The first edition of the CD (1986) included both tracks, with "Very, Very Hungry" as a bonus track. Later editions (1990 and later) followed the revised LP track order without "Qu'ran."


A widely-circulated bootleg of outtakes was released in 1992 as Klondyke Records KR 21. Sound quality is nearly equal to the original CD release.

  1. "Interview" – 3:03 (excerpt from Brian's February 2, 1980 KPFA-FM interview, where he discusses recording the album)
  2. "Mea Culpa" – 4:56
  3. "Into the Spirit Womb" [sic](actual title as spoken on the track is "Into the Spirit World") – 6:07 ("The Jezebel Spirit" with the original Kathryn Kuhlman vocals, which her estate refused to license)
  4. "Regiment"  (Byrne, Eno, Jones) – 4:13
  5. "The Friends of Amos Tutuola" – 2:01 ("Two Against Three" in the official 2006 re-release)
  6. "America Is Waiting"  (Byrne, Eno, Laswell, Wright, Van Tiegham) – 3:42
  7. "The Carrier" – 4:22
  8. "Very Very Hungry" – 3:25
  9. "On the Way to Zagora" – 2:43 ("Pitch to Voltage" in the official 2006 re-release)
  10. "Les Hommes Ne Le Sauront Jamais" – 3:33 ("Number 8 Mix" in the official 2006 re-release)
  11. "A Secret Life" – 2:34
  12. "Come with Us" – 2:42
  13. "Mountain of Needles" – 2:31

Except as noted, the tracks are the same mix as originally released.

2006 re-release

Remastered, with bonus tracks

  1. "America Is Waiting"  (Byrne, Eno, Laswell, Wright, Van Tiegham) – 3:38
  2. "Mea Culpa" – 4:57
  3. "Regiment"  (Byrne, Eno, Jones) – 4:11
  4. "Help Me Somebody" – 4:17
  5. "The Jezebel Spirit" – 4:56
  6. "Very, Very Hungry" – 3:21
  7. "Moonlight in Glory" – 4:30
  8. "The Carrier" – 4:19
  9. "A Secret Life" – 2:31
  10. "Come with Us" – 2:42
  11. "Mountain of Needles" – 2:39
  12. "Pitch to Voltage" – 2:38
  13. "Two Against Three" – 1:55
  14. "Vocal Outtakes" – 0:36
  15. "New Feet" – 2:26
  16. "Defiant" – 3:41
  17. "Number 8 Mix" – 3:30
  18. "Solo Guitar with Tin Foil" – 3:00

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