I love They Might Be Giants. They have, over the years, earned a spot as one of my top three favorite bands (tied with U2 and The New Porngraphers). While they seem like a “funny” band at first, there is so much more to their music than humor. They Might Be Giants really dives deep into the human experience. Sometimes their lyrics are dark, but with a humorous sounding tone. Sometimes their songs are a three minute history lesson. Still – other times we find the songs of TMBG are pretty much a musical experiment – let’s make an interconnected loop of the lyrics. Regardless of the style – They Might be Giants is more than just a novelty band. TMBG captures the human experience in a way no other band can. Perhaps that’s why I love TMBG – their music has provided a constant backdrop to my own experiences. With that, I can think of no better way to pay tribute to TMBG then to recount my own experiences with their music.
My first introduction to They Might Be Giants was the same as many people my age – Tiny Toons Adventure In the episode “Tiny Toon Music Television.” From the moment (Block)Buster Bunny announced the first music video, “Istanbul, Not Constantinople,” we were like…what? Even when Buster announced another TMBG song, he asked “who are these guys?” This was pretty much everyone’s thoughts – who the heck are They Might Be Giants? They certainly were not Madonna or Sinead O’Connor, much to the dismay of Babs Bunny. But they were special. We could tell! They Might Be Giants is a band worth checking out.
In the early 2000s, my good friend Dave lent me several data CDs with hundreds of MP3s. I ripped a copy and over the next few months I dove into these songs. I found several TMBG MP3s. “She Thinks She’s Edith Head,” “Cyclops Rock,” and “Man, It’s So Loud In Here” really stuck out – but I loved all of the songs I heard. I knew I needed more TMBG in my life, and I knew from that moment forward, I would be a lifelong fan.
A few months later, my first TMBG concert – of many. Again – my good friend Dave got me in for free, he actually interviewed the band beforehand. Honestly – I don’t remember much about the show. I remember our friend Eliza getting scared during “Robot Parade.” I remember being really excited when they played Istanbul. A third memory – John Linnell singling: “everybody conga….I’m not fucking kidding.” Mostly what I remember though – the show was a lot of fun. Perhaps the most high energy show I had been to at that point in my life.
In the wee hours of January 1, 2006, my New Years party was over. I grabbed a bus, but did not want to go home, so I stopped in downtown Portland. For whatever reason, I sang – nay – yelled a They Might Be Giants song as I walked down the street. I was not drunk – just hyper. This timeframe was not the happiest of my life by any means, but I guess the New Year was giving me hope for a brighter future.
A year or two later, I decided to make a “Literature Rocks” playlist. Basically – a playlist featuring songs about or inspired by works of literature. I asked a LiveJournal group for suggestions, and they directed me to the song “I Should be Allowed To Think.” Instantly this became my favorite TMBG Song. TMBG took Ginsberg’s “Howl,” and updated it – even added onto it. I still have yet to hear the song played live. One time I asked via twitter if they would consider playing it. Flansburgh answered back, saying they didn’t remember how to play it. Next time you come to Portland Flansburgh! Next time.