First Release: Join Us, 2011
(This is an ongoing countdown that will be updated through April. Click here for the full list.)
It’s exceptionally rare for a band that’s been recording for more than 30 years, but I think They Might Be Giants has released some of their very best music in the last few years. The band has hit a renaissance, inspired perhaps by their online fan base, their successful kids records with Disney, a new label (Idlewild), the emergence of digital music distribution, or just a fit of creativity (most likely a combination of all of the above), and Join Us is one of the band’s best records.
This song, sometimes performed live by the (literal) sock puppet “Avatars of They,” is unusual for being a rare true duet. Often one John sings backup vocals for the other, but in this case they share lead, portraying two drivers destined for a collision brought about by distracted driving–one is writing a book while driving, the other laying back and falling asleep. If you listen in stereo, each John gets one channel.
The accident itself is represented musically by jazz flute.
According to This Might Be a Wiki, John Linnell originally wanted to title this song “Party in the USA,” or something similarly inappropriate, before realizing Miley Cyrus already had a song by that title. Spoiler Alert also made it into an episode of NPR’s “Car Talk” before the Magliozzi brothers retired in 2012.