Hugo Ball was a founding member of the Dada movement in early 20th century Germany. Talking Heads used the first verse of Ball’s poem Gadji beri bimba, verbatim, as the lyric for the song I Zimbra, the opening track of their 1979 album Fear of Music. The poem consists solely of nonsensical phrases—or, as Ball put it “verses without words.” Still, Talking Heads gave Ball a songwriting credit, raising the unrealistic hopes of obscure Dadaist poets everywhere.
An account of Ball’s first public reading of the poem can be found in Dada: Art and Anti-Art by Hans Richter.
Thanks to Tom Barnwell for the guest post.