Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday PSTSS: "Birdhouse in Your Soul"

This actually isn't my favorite tune off of They Might Be Giant's 1990 album Flood, which actually isn't my favorite TMBG's album either. For the former, I think, the answer is either the surrealistic "They Might Be Giants" (if only for the completely mad line, "Everyone needs to hang on tighter / just to keep from being thrown to the wolves"), the trenchantly minimalistic "Minimum Wage" (which consists of nothing but a whip cracking), or "Particle Man" (which I can't listen to now without hearing the Bob's brilliant calliope cover, complete with Matthew "Bob" Stull shouting out in the middle of song, for no apparent reason, "Waiter!"). Truly, it's a great recording, stuffed with brilliant, funny, weird tunes. But as I said, out of all their recordings, I'm not sure it's their best, I think; that title I would give to their 2002 kids' album, No!, if only because I love singing "Where Do They Make Balloons?" with my kids.

Still, here we go with TMBG's biggest mainstream hit. A tale of love and obsession, of history and theology, it's the sort of thing that Ray Bradbury could have turned into a fabulous, freaky sci-fi/horror/romance. ("Honey, our little night light has been talking to me, and I think it loves me, and I think it's going to kill you to get at me." "That's nice, dear.")

I'm your only friend--
I'm not your only friend--
but I'm a little glowing friend--
but really I'm not actually your friend--
but I am...

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
who watches over you.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.
Not to put too fine a point on it:
say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

I have a secret to tell
from my electrical well;
it's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells.
So the room must listen to me
filibuster vigilantly.
My name is blue canary one note spelled l-i-t-e.
My story's infinite--
like the Longines Symphonette it doesn't rest.

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
who watches over you.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.
Not to put too fine a point on it:
say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

I'm your only friend--
I'm not your only friend--
But I'm a little glowing friend--
But really I'm not actually your friend--
But I am...

There's a picture opposite me
of my primitive ancestry,
which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck free.
Though I respect that a lot
I'd be fired if that were my job,
after killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts.
Bluebird of friendliness--
like guardian angels its always near.

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
who watches over you.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.
Not to put too fine a point on it:
say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

(And while you're at it,
keep the nightlight on inside
the birdhouse in your soul.)

Not to put too fine a point on it:
say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch (and while you're at it)
who watches over you (keep the nightlight on inside the)
Make a little birdhouse in your soul (birdhouse in your soul)

Not to put too fine a point on it:
say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch (and while you're at it)
who watches over you (keep the nightlight on inside the)
Make a little birdhouse in your soul (birdhouse in your soul)

Not to put too fine a point on it:
say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

2 comments:

Eric said...

I would have to go with "Istanbul (not Constantinople)" as my "favorite" although I also strongly favor "Your racist Friend"

for me, Flood totally evoked the college years- it seemed that it practically was issued as part of the furnishings for all the dorm rooms (men's dorm rooms also got Jane's Addiction, and the women got the Little Mermaid soundtrack)

Now that i've got a little one, No is on fairly regular rotation- and especially "Where do they make baloons" As far as I can see, you have good taste.

Russell Arben Fox said...

Eric,

Your comment brings back all sorts of undergraduate memories for me as well. There was a campus acappella group that included some old friends of mine, and they did a wonderful "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" cover. "Your Racist Friend" was of course a big favorite as well. And I left out one of my favorite memories: a radical friend of mine giving a Marxist reading of "Particle Man," putting ironic emphasis on how Universe Man is "usually kind to Smaller Man."

Jane's Addiction and the Little Mermaid soundtrack...man, suddenly it's 1989-1991 all over again.

Glad your kids like No, and thanks for the kind words.