I saw They Might Be Giants perform this song live for only the second time live at Williamsburg Music Hall in late January–the first time was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in June. It’s one of the most TMBG-ish of all TMBG songs: confined to an obscure nineteenth-century poetic form, with lyrics about writing within that form.
In concert, the Johns are quite explicit that the two words, while similar, share neither a common root nor a spelling. Villanelle has no I, and shares a root with the Italian villa, reflecting its pastoral subject matter.
There’s a They Might Be Giants show in Brooklyn on the last Sunday of every month in 2015. I expect I’ll go to at least half, and maybe more. The venue is a half hour or less from my apartment, and how many chances does one get in life to end each month with a TMBG show?