The "Puzzling Evidence" segment of the film was inspired by the Church of the Sub-Genius, a parody religion to which David Byrne is an adherent. In "church" lore, Puzzling Evidence is the name of the assassin of the religion's fictional founder, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs.
Most of the vocal work done by the film's stars, including that of singer Roebuck 'Pops' Staples, was not released. Instead, Talking Heads recorded an album featuring their versions of the songs. Nearly every song from the movie was released on a soundtrack album, performed by the film actors and nearly all of the background music as well. It included John Goodman's version of PEOPLE LIKE US.
Most of the commercials seen before and during the Love for Sale musical number were genuine TV ads of the day, including Victor Kiam's famous Remington shaver ad with its slogan "I liked it so much, I bought the company!" According to David Byrne, many of the characters in this film were inspired by actual supermarket tabloid stories.
Mr. Tucker's house, where Louis goes to get spiritual help with his love life, was the house of Dallas folk artist, Willard "The Texas Kid" Watson. Both the exterior and interior of the house was used. The front yard was filled with Watson's art, and was not set up that way for the shoot. That was how his yard always looked, except that we altered what the sigh over the walkway said. That's Watson's wife on the sofa as Louis is escorted through to Mr. Tucker's room, which was the Watsons' dining room that had been completely redecorated by the art department. The alter, complete with Polaroids of various crew members, was specifically built for the scene, but almost everything else in the room was gathered together for less than $150. Stephen Seybold, who appears in the fashion show and other scenes, and who auditioned by doing his Disco Fish routine for which he walked on stage with a boom box and a goldfish bowl, turned on the music, poured the fish out onto a piano bench, and danced while the fish flipped around (no fish were harmed), lent the art department his good-sized collection of botanical, for which they were very grateful. Much of the rest was purchased at local botanical stores, a Catholic supply store, and at a little Latino flea market that was held for years every weekend on Carroll just south of Columbia in east Dallas. The Elvis Presley and Four Horsemen rugs were purchased from a roadside vendor, who was offended when asked how much he charged per rug. "Rug?!" he exclaimed. "These are FINE tapestries!" He charged $10 per fine tapestry. Notice that when Pops Staples, as Mr. Tucker, sings the word, "king," and points to the right, he is pointing at a bust of John F. Kennedy.
David Byrne modelled the character of The Narrator after folksy radio personality Paul Harvey and at one point considered offering Harvey the role. As well, Byrne offered the role of Louis Fyne to TV weatherman Willard Scott, who turned it down.
In an interview to promote Stop Making Sense, David Byrne described True Stories (then in the early stages of production) as "60 Minutes on Acid." Somewhat incongruously, Byrne also used the same phrase to describe Stop Making Sense itself, despite it being s concert film with no narrative.
There is either an intentional theme, or triple coincidence, with red convertible cars. The Narrator is driving a red 1985 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, the Culvers' parade car is a red 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, and the Shriners are driving miniature red 1966 (or thereabouts) Ford Mustang convertibles.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In the original script, the Cute Woman (Alix Elias) is overcome by the cuteness of the babies in the parade during the Celebration of Specialness, and she dies. Later, after Louis marries the Lazy Woman, during the reception in her bedroom, Louis looks wistfully out of the window. At that point, there was to be a cut to a graveyard exterior scene in which the Cute Woman's funeral was attended only by a few, including the Narrator (David Byrne) and Mr. Tucker (Pops Staples). The scene was shot, but later cut from the film, as was the Cute Woman's death. For the scene, the art department actually found a commercially available pink fur casket which was purchased from a company in Fort Worth, to which they glue plastic flowers and a plastic fountain topped with a spinning ballerina. It was a very cute casket indeed. After production wrapped, the art department, which was in an old dentist office on Prescott in east Dallas, held a yard sale. The coffin and many other props and set pieces were sold, and whatever was left went to a local prop shop.