TMBG Countdown: Honorable Mentions

A few songs that didn’t crack the top 26, but that I wanted to give special recognition for various reasons:

(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)

Call Connected Through the NSA (Podcast 4A, 2006)

TMBG’s response to revelations about Bush administration surveillance was a downloadable ringtone that reminded the user that every call was on a party line. It is, of course, totally irrelevant today.

Marty Beller Mask (Album Raises New and Troubling Questions, 2011)

One of the band’s most absurd songs, revealing drummer Marty Beller’s secret identity: Whitney Houston, who got sick of all the attention and really just wanted to play the skins in a rock band. The song was retired from live performance after less than a year when Whitney Houston was found dead.

Particle Man (Flood, 1990)

Not a personal favorite, but certainly an essential song in the TMBG canon. Often reinterpreted live to great effect–my personal favorite is “Particle Mo,” recorded live in 2005 with Corn Mo and featuring dueling accordions. Like “Istanbul,” this is a gateway song through which many fans discovered the band–on Tiny Tunes Adventures.

Stormy Pinkness (Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (EP), 1990)

A favorite mostly because for many years I knew it only through a poor recording at a live performance in Germany. The shouts of the German audience on the track were a bonus.

Experimental Film (The Spine, 2004)

One of several collaborations with the Brothers Chaps of HomestarRunner.com, this one came with a flash-animated music video starring the King of Town and his loyal subjects.

Man, It’s So Loud In Here (Mink Car, 2001)

It’s a little odd that no cuts from Mink Car made this list, when that’s one of my favorite They Might Be Giants records. I guess the album, while generally great, doesn’t have any one song that jumps out of the discography–though this, one of TMBG’s few attempts at techno, is a regular on my workout playlist.

Shoehorn With Teeth (Lincoln, 1988) 

Honorable mention mostly for the live performances, which were preceded by a long introductory song announcing the arrival of a glockenspiel and its player to the stage, all to play three notes on “Shoehorn.” Retired, along with the glockenspiel, in 2002–though hardcore fans (like Yours Truly) to this day shout for the glockenspiel at live performances.

Alex says: Having witnessed the band play this (with Glock) in St. Petersburg, FL circa 1997… I recall the glockenspiel sitting front-n-center on the stage for the whole show… it was out there, in front of the band for 8-10 songs before they used it. I Loved that. Also… the conga line got really out of control at that show. That said, both my parents accompanied my 17yr old self to that show… and they were both in the conga line.

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