There’s only two songs in me and I just wrote the third
Don’t know where I got the inspiration or how I wrote the words
Spent my whole life just digging up my music’s shallow grave
For the two songs in me and the third one I just maaaaaaade.
— They Might Be Giants, Number Three, 1986
The lyric above is from the third song on the very first They Might Be Giants album, all the way back in 1986. This is also the third time that I am writing about said Giants, and I can feel their pain. Here I sit, staring at the blinking cursor which stubbornly refuses to move forward.
Thankfully, TMBG themselves are excellent role models in this respect. They overcame their writers block to come out with an astounding 20 studio albums. A quick count on Wikipedia puts that at an amazing 430 tracks over their 30+ year history. And that does not include all the dial-a-song and other miscellaneous content that they’ve put out in the past.
Let’s do the math on that. That’s 14 1/3 songs per year. Spotify has damn near every song in existence. At about 30,000,000 songs, that means that every song in existence will be written by TMBG in just over two million years.
Wait! Still here? There is a reason behind this bad math foretelling our future utopia. One of the awesome things about some TMBG songs is the way they start off somewhere, and go in all sorts of weird and hilarious directions.1 There’s possibly their most famous hit that considers what would happen if you replaced a lighthouse with a nightlight: “killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts.” There’s the song about a guy with his head on fire: “you’re hard to get to know, but easy to find in a crowd.” Then there’s the new album that considers what happens when you leave your body to go off on metaphysical journey, and then forget where you left it. And then there are hundreds of other examples. If you have any sense of humor at all, you owe it to yourself to listen to these guys.
They Might Be Giants played the House of Blues in Boston last Friday, and just as you’d expect from their music, it was a lot of fun. It was a 14+ show, so for the first time ever, I was able to take my 14 year old son to the concert. He appreciates the goofier things in life like me. It was great being able to share this, his first concert, with him. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that after TMBG, it’s all downhill from here.
The set list contained several new songs off their most recent studio album I Like Fun, as well as a ton of the old favorites. There was no opening band, so they actually played both sets, joking that just as any other night you should feel free not to applaud or enjoy the first act.
As with all TMBG shows, there was plenty of goofing around between the songs. During the intro to Which Describes How You’re Feeling All The Time, they joked about how it was a pretty short song, and they could probably spent more time on the intro than it took to play the song itself. They proceeded to do just that, making stupid conversation and glancing at their watches every once in a while. I was thinking to myself “how could this be funny?” But it was freakin’ hilarious.
They played a loop of Air Supply’s Now the Night Has Gone, alternating with Flansburgh singing the lyric in death metal style. They did a round of Flansburgh pointing to various members of the band, having them blast out a note. Then, he brought the audience into the act by pointing at us, and we screamed along. The atmosphere was infectiously fun, and if you are the kind of person that enjoys their music, you are also the kind of person that will enjoy their live shows.
So here I am at the end of my third TMBG review. I only had two of them in me, ? but this is number threeeee.?
1 Don’t worry about it, they are much better at it than I am.