Genius Next Door

Songfacts®:

  • This song appears to tell the tale of a local misfit kid who drowns himself. Spektor described it to Entertainment Weekly as "a little science fiction story in a song. Like a Twilight Zone episode."
  • This song was produced by Jeff Lynne (ELO, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Traveling Wilburys), who also accompanies Spektor with his voice. The Russian born singer-songwriter said in publicity materials that Lynne, got her to do something she'd thought impossible before. She said: "On the last record I started harmonizing with myself for the first time, but I never sang with someone else on my records. His voice is so beautiful. It was a singing choir with Jeff and once we started doing it we did it on a bunch of songs."
  • Spektor admitted to Pitchfork Media that she was unaware of how big a name Lynne is in the music business, before she hooked up with him. She admitted: "It's kind of funny. Actually, it's kind of sad - I didn't know who he was or what he had done when I asked him if he'd like to produce some songs. I'm the opposite of a knowledgeable music aficionado; tomorrow, I could discover an amazing artist that people have been listening to for the past 60 years and be, like, 'wow.' The reason I asked to contact Jeff was because I saw he produced the last Tom Petty record, Highway Companion, which I really loved. I noted him down so next time I did a record I could actually tell people, like, 'I have a few producers I'd like to check out.' I remember the silence on the phone when I said the name 'Jeff Lynne' to Tom Whalley, the president of Warner Bros. But Tom was really positive about it.
    By the time I was about to meet Jeff I was sufficiently nervous. But he's really sweet. We drank a lot of tea. And after I worked with him, I started to understand, like, 'Oh yeah! That's Jeff - I know that song.' Sometimes you know the song or voice but you have no idea who sings it. But Jeff's definitely in the world of legends. He had these banjoleles - a mix between a banjo and a ukulele - and I picked one up and he was like, 'Yeah, George [Harrison] gave that to me.' I was like, 'Oh my god,' and then put it down."
  • Jeff Lynne told Q magazine August 2009: "It's a bizarre song, but it's amazing. She said to me she treated it like a short story-and what it means is what you think it means."

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