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Saturday April 19, 2014
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They Might Be Giants



hours in the car and started to beat each other about the head in the backseat. The young mother knew exactly what to do: she popped in a bootleg (sorry) tape of They Might Be Giants songs. And the children were happy and sang along. And the single mom was suddenly cool and youthful, and she, too, sang along. And it was good.

The strange, dorky, perfect songs of They Might Be Giants were my sound track for a couple of very interesting years. And when they came to the Michigan Theater sometime in the early 1990s, I bought tickets and my kids and I danced in our seats. It was the kids' first rock concert — a lot louder than the songs on the bootleg tape, but we didn't care.

This is music for those with no attention span (many songs last just a minute or two and sometimes just . . . stop). This is music for people who read the faint, white writing printed on a rearview mirror and think, "Wow, that would make a great song." It is music for the odd and the disaffected, and for people with ordinary nonsingerly voices who, possibly whilst stoned, get great ideas for songs and assorted art projects — TMBG actually follow through and write those songs. They are censor free. And the result is amazing, freethinking music that is utterly original and often somewhat irritatingly beautiful. I don't mind that New Yorkers John Flansburgh and John Linnell are probably millionaires; they deserve to be for writing songs with titles like "My Racist Friend," "The Statue Got Me High," "I Palindrome I," "Fingertips," and "Which Describes How You're Feeling."

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