TMBG Countdown #2: Birdhouse in Your Soul

April 29, 2015 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 1853

First release: Flood, 1990

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


I mentioned I saw the band this past Sunday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg? They did two encores (as is standard, per John Flansburgh on Slate’s Working podcast) and as they led into “Dead” to start the second encore, I briefly entertained the thought that they might not play Birdhouse at this show.

Then, of course, “Dead” led straight into “Birdhouse” and my concerns were allayed. It would have been a very strange feeling, to experience a They Might Be Giants show with no “Birdhouse in Your Soul.” I believe they have played that song at every show I’ve ever attended. I learned in my early teens that the proper way to dance to Birdhouse is to jump up and down through the entire length of the song, and I’ve been able to chart my age by the shortening of time I spend jumping–first it was the whole song, then just the chorus, then just the first few measures of the song. Last night I sat in a chair in the balcony, and jumped not at all.

Birdhouse also lent itself to one of the stranger moments in They Might Be Giants history, as they appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1990 (hosted by Jay Leno that night) and performed the song with Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band. The song ends with a weaving repetition of the chorus, and it’s quite something to watch the band blow the staccato brass melody while the two Johns repeat that chorus over and over again. Have a look:

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