They Might Be Giants

And the honor of being the first band discussed on this site is … They Might Be Giants? Okay, sure, They Might Be Giants — can’t argue with the invisible hand of iTunes. I wouldn’t say exactly that They Might Be Giants are typical of my music listening habits, but then, just what is “typical” is half the point of this project.

Anyway: As best as I can remember, I was first introduced to TMBG by my friend Dave, who had spent much of his college career singing their songs on long road trips with his Ultimate Frisbee team. (This probably tells you a lot about Dave. Also about the late 1980s in general.) [Edit: Dave writes to clarify that while it was a college classmate who introduced him to TMBG, it wasn’t a frisbee teammate. I stand corrected.] I know that the first album of theirs I heard was Flood, and that I was instantly drawn to their smart, goofy lyrics and broad range of musical styles.

And then I more or less forgot about them. Except that they kept popping up here and there: My co-worker Carmen, who brought in a cassette of Apollo 18 to listen to at work (which tells you a lot about the early 1990s); a live show that my friend Andrew brought me to, featuring one song sung by remotely controlled puppet heads on ten-foot-high poles (the song was not “Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head,” but I think possibly “Exquisite Dead Guy”); a concert in Prospect Park that led me to buy my first album of theirs in years, The Spine, and discover that they’d taken some fascinating turns in the intervening time span.

The two Johns aren’t for everyone — my friend Pete, who will be showing up a lot in these posts, once made me stop singing “Ana Ng” after one verse because it had the word “perpendicular” in it. But then, bands that are for everyone ultimately aren’t for anyone, are they? (Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” leaps to mind.) TMBG are pretty damn amazing at what they do, in any event, and if anything are only getting better at it. Dave had a prescient frisbee team.

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