Like mid-'70s Rolling Stones or David Bowie, Talking Heads convincingly incorporate funk, R&B, and other dance music influences into their sound on their third LP, Fear of Music (1979). "Cities" anticipates the highly rhythm-centered and densely textured directions the band would take on the landmark Remain in Light LP (1980), with jittery, clean electric guitar parts, keyboards playing a relaxed counter-riff over the 16th-note strums of the guitar, and Robert Fripp's guest appearance providing dive-bombing and slip-sliding guitar noises, as Adrian Belew provided for a few groups. The forceful rhythm section of Chris Frantz -- holding down the fort with his steady Charlie Watts-like 4/4 beat -- and Tina Weymouth's melodic, funky bass line (almost a lead part in its prominence in the mix) propel the song with an infectious, incessant groove. The song modulates keys in the pre-chorus, adding a shifting, off-balance atmosphere to the song. David Byrne's alternately deadpan and animated delivery of "Cities"' uniquely slanted lyrics demonstrate why his style was so influential to bands like the Pixies; his off-kilter sensibilities and often humorous, stream-of-consciousness observations are spoken/sung with a heavily stylized new wave quirkiness that indicates a narrator slightly off. The song fades in as if already in progress, adding to the relentless feel of the rhythm and to the idea of the song as an ongoing travelogue: "There are a lot of rich people in Birmingham/A lot of ghosts in a lot of houses/Look over there/A dry ice factory/A good place to get some thinking done/Did I forget to mention, to mention Memphis/Home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks/Do I smell? I smell home cooking/It's only the river, it's only the river/I'm checking them out/I'm checking them out/I got it figured out/I got it figured out/There's good points/And bad points/Find a city/Find myself a city to live in." "Cities" fades out as it had started, the aggressive funk groove continuing on to the album's next track, the paranoid, highly danceable "Life During Wartime."