I am pretty sure that a good portion of my readers might not know who They Might Be Giants (or TMBG for short) is or may have had minimal exposure to the band. It is a good possibility that they might have heard a song here or there either through a show theme song, on an animated show, or movie soundtrack.
My first exposure to They Might Be Giants was when they first released the video for the song “Don’t Let’s Start!” from their self-titled first album. Initially I wasn’t sure what to make of the music, it was definitely different, even at the time. The next song I would see a video for “Anna Ng” on their next album “Lincoln”. I would say the experience of listening to both songs was kind of like a deer in headlights. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or didn’t like, but I didn’t dare change the channel.
I didn’t delve into an album by the band until the album “Flood” was released, which two of the songs “Istanbul” and “Particle Man” were featured in an episode of Tiny Toons. A classmate of mine had a copy of the album and let me take a listen to a bit of the album during our lunch break. I admit I still wasn’t sure what to make of this very unique band and their music. In short, I purchased a copy of “Flood” used from a local music shop at the time.
Although the songs had a sense of humor to them, I must admit that the music was very catchy, but it was quite evident They Might Be Giants had their own musical identity. It was very hard to categorize, because the music didn’t stay still, it branched out quite a bit, but didn’t lend it to the conventions of what music was at the time of the release of “Flood”. The cool thing about the songs was that the lyrics seemed to be about something, but at times didn’t have a set theme, which was cool because it made the listener come to their own conclusion as to what the song is about.
I have listened to this album front to back, back to front since the day I bought it. It was also strange for me at the time especially with what I normally listened to at the time, and the type of musician I was striving to be as well. Unfortunately this would be the only album I would listen to from They Might Be Giants for a long while because of moving around and the various changes in my life.
My focus on the band wouldn’t return until many years later around the time a little show called Pushing Daisies started airing on ABC. I remember watching the one episode where the characters played by Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, and Kristin Chenoweth are riding in a car and the first they start singing is “Birdhouse In Your Soul”. I freaked my parents out by singing along with the characters at full volume and then laughing because it was a pretty cool surprise to hear a song that I had been listening to for (at the time) seventeen years.
The next surprise was a couple of years later when the CGI film adaption of “Coraline” was released in the theaters. When I reached the scene where Coraline’s Other Father started singing this very quick song in the movie. Immediately I recognized the vocal performance as John Linnell from They Might Be Giants. All of a sudden their songs started popping up in various movies and shows, as well as some shows’ theme songs (see Malcolm in the Middle).
Seeing the band pop up in various media prompted me to visit the various albums that were released after “Flood”, as well as the various projects that TMBG were working on, including some children’s stuff that they were and are releasing.
To this day I still listen to “Flood” more than most of the band’s other albums, but it is not to say I do not appreciate the other releases it is just that this particular album strikes a personal chord with me (pun intended). It was the one album in my collection that I would throw on to change things up to keep myself from burning out on what at the time. Plus it also has had a big impact on me in life, which has left me with a huge mental map of good memories.