You've probably seen a person react to somebody else's whining over something inconsequential by getting an imaginary violin out and giving them a musical accompaniment to their complaining (maybe, dear reader, you've done the dirty deed yourself or been the victim).
In a 1978 episode of the TV show M*A*S*H, Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) took this sarcastic expression of sympathy one step further. Addressing one of Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers)'s woes; she rubbed her thumb and forefinger together and said: "It's the world's smallest violin, and it's playing just for you." Though the dismissive response dates back further, this was the first reference to playing the smallest violin in popular culture.
Here, AJR vocalist Jack Metzger needs to vent to someone about his troubles. Though he acknowledges his problems are inferior to others, like the world's smallest violin, they're real to him: the singer feels he'll explode if he can't find someone who will let him unload.
AJR wrote "World's Smallest Violin" themselves, with Ryan Metzger producing the track. They released it as the fifth single from OK Orchestra on March 26, 2021.
That's Danny Ferenbach on the (regular sized) violin. The Las Vegas native plays the instrument on 11 of the OK Orchestra tracks, plus trumpet on "Way Less Sad." He's also contributed to songs on albums by Remi Wolf and Wallows.
AJR's go-to visual collaborator Edoardo Ranaboldo directed the video. It features the Metzger Brothers performing the song inside an apartment as various crazy things happen around them.
In 2022, the song went viral on TikTok, with many using part of the chorus as a soundbite.
So if I do not find somebody soon I'll blow up into smithereens, and spew my tiny symphony
TikTok users cut the lyrics off right after "I'll blow up," then show a screenshot of a video of theirs that blew up (went viral).
Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees on their 1967 tour, and it did not go well. The young, mostly female crowd shouted "Davy" when Hendrix sang the word "Lady" in "Foxy Lady" in honor of who they came to see: Monkees lead singer Davy Jones.