Why Is The World In Love Again
They Might Be Giants may only be two guys named John, a guitarist and an accordioner, but the music that they produce is something else. The lyrics—funny, tragic, weird, poetic, meaningless—are backdropped by consciously bizarre, irresistibly catchy, and off the wall rocking music. After twenty years, they have but two gold albums to their names, a few minor hit singles. They’ve made serious records, kids records, TV themes (Malcolm In The Middle, The Daily Show,) and unique music videos. And I am happy to say (now that I have my ticket) that They Might Be Giants are coming here to the Michigan Theatre, November 14th.
TMBG’s first records from the late 80’s, their eponymous record and Lincoln, epitomize the quirky musicianship with which TMBG has made their name, featuring prominent, rocking accordion, computer effects care of Apple IIe’s, tongue-in-cheek drum machines, and the oddly charming vocals of the two Johns. After minor success with their first records, Elektra signed them and released Flood. Not their best work, but it became their most popular, featuring a cover of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” which may be the greatest song ever made.
Everything thing was turning up roses for TMBG. They played on Carson, Flood went gold… but along came grunge. Grunge destroyed hair metal, synth pop, and everything bad about the 80s. Unfortunately, it destroyed everything good about the 80s, too, like the diverse alternative scene including TMBG. Flood’s follow-up, Apollo 18 did not sell nearly as well. So they expanded their sound by adding a band of Dans, going for a more straight ahead rock motif. While records like John Henry and Factory Showroom don’t get the praises of the earlier records, they still contain the unmistakable They Might Be Giants sound.
They Might Be Giants made the gigantic documentary Gigantic, highlighting their meteoric rise to… kind of fame. In it, we see a pair of guys excited about their fiercely devoted cult following. I have had the privilege of seeing TMBG twice in my life. Once during their tour of Borders Book Stores across the nation to promote Here Come The ABCs, and I saw them again at the Majestic in Detroit, when they did probably the best show I’ve ever seen (maybe a close second to Dylan.) They closed with “Fingertips.” That knocked me out.