Friday, February 20, 2009

“Birdhouse In Your Soul” is the work of recording artists They Might Be Giants, which is mainly the duo of John Flansburgh (guitar, vocals) and John Linnell (accordion, saxophone, lead vocals), backed by a revolving group of three or more sidemen at any one time. From their childhood in Lincoln, Massachusetts, they began writing songs together, even though they didn't form a band. After going their separate ways for college, they reunited in 1981 while living in Brooklyn. Taking their name from a 1971 movie of the same name -- don't ask me why -- they initially performed around New York City, accompanied only by a drum machine or pre-recorded rhythm track. The additional musicians, and the increased overhead that seems to accompany noteriety, came later. With their clever play on words and arcane subject matter, TMBG developed a unique form of “geek rock” or “nerd rock” that prevailed throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

“Birdhouse” is featured on “Flood,” the third album for TMBG, and their first on Elektra. The album went gold, mainly due to this song, as well as a remake of “Instanbul (Not Constantinople).”* The first clip is NOT the official music video, which is tied up with the recording industry lawyers for the second time this year already. So we're featuring a 2001 live performance from the UK's famous “Top of the Pops” show, one of the few where they don't speed it up noticeably faster than the recording. (I hate when they do that.) What's more, it's not so obvious here, but TMBG's concertgoers tend to sing along with suitable vigor.

After all, they're geeks, aren't they?

For our second clip, we here at mwbh couldn't resist showing you the “literal remix” version, especially since those cake-eaters in pinstripes at WMG have yet to find it. (Click on it now, while you still can.) Such was the least we could do for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

* Originally recorded by a Canadian group called The Four Lads in 1953, on the Columbia label, peaking on the Billboard charts that same year at number ten.

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