Like many I was introduced to They Might Be Giants through the Tiny Toon music video special VHS (which is called Tiny Toon Music Television in English speaking countries, but I believe it was called Tiny Toon Topp 10 in Norway). This special featured animated renditions of the band’s song “Particle Man” and their cover of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”. It took a few years after seeing the special until, through the power of the internet, I found out the name of the band and sometime thereafter ordered their album Flood, from which both songs hailed. I listened to it repeatedly on my Discman (or was it a Walkman?) during my first few high school years, reveling in its quirky geek-pop and nerd-rock sound, and its silly lyrics, so I can’t help but feel a touch of teh nostalgia whenever I revisit that album – or even just other works by the band.
In 2004 they released their album The Spine, and, like most bands do, went on tour to promote it. During this tour they tried writing one original song for each venue they played at, using the name of whatever establishment they were playing at as the name and basis of the song. A fun and reasonably zany exercise in creative songmanship. In 2005 they released the CD/DVD combo Venue Songs through their web store, which collects all of these songs. Most are live recordings, but ten have been given full studio treatment. As a bonus, the CD includes a handful of rarities as well. The DVD has ten mostly animated music videos to go with the ten studio recordings, complete with narration by John Hodgman – literary agent turned humorist and computer – as well as a handful of non-exclusive music videos. In short, this release is a real treat for fans, and non-fans may find themselves entertained as well as there are plenty of strong songs here. It’s just too bad about the high shipping costs from the US to Norway on this product; that’s geographic discrimination, that is!
The song I’m featuring this week is one of the rarities that was included on this collection: a song written as a wedding present of sorts to a friend of a friend’s wedding, offering some sound advice for the bride and groom, who’s names are Dan and Lisa. It’s a very sweet little song, though it might be a bit too specific to become a wedding song standard, with lines such as “Dan and Lisa, hi / We kind of know you guys”. Specificness aside, the lyrics are great, and remarkably straight forward compared to some of the band’s other songs (eg. “Birdhouse In Your Soul”).