Birdhouse In Your Soul

Album: Flood (1990)
Charted: 6
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Songfacts®:

  • This was They Might Be Giants' biggest hit in both the USA and the UK. The song is a story of a child's blue canary-shaped night light, told from the night light's point of view. Across the room from the night light is a picture of a lighthouse, which would be his primitive ancestor. It could be interpreted that the night light is a metaphor for God or a guardian angel protecting the child.
  • The lyrics refer to Jason and the Argonauts, who were a band of heroes who in Greek legend set out in the ship Argo to fetch the Golden Fleece. It is unclear what relationship they have to the night light. Possibly the night light is comparing the small amount of light it beams with the lighthouse's powerful beam and it is admitting that if it had been me on that shore when Jason and the Argonauts arrived rather than the lighthouse, they would have been smashed on the rocks because of its shortcomings.
  • The song's video, directed by Adam Bernstein, was filmed inside the New York County's Surrogate's Court and Hall of Records building in Manhattan.
  • On They Might Be Giants' website, John Linnell says: "'Birdhouse In Your Soul' is a song about a night light. That's it. It's written from the perspective of a night light serenading the occupant of its room. The thing is, there are so many syllables in the songs that we have to come up with something to fill the spaces. So it ends up being kind of Gilbert and Sullivany."
  • The Longines Symphonette, mentioned in the lyric, "My story's infinite Like the Longines Symphonette it doesn't rest," is a reference to the Longines Symphonette Society, which back in the 1960s and 1970s, released numerous albums consisting of digital re-recordings of various classical and classic pieces of music. It may have seemed like they had an infinite collection of albums. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Patrick - Bremen, GA
  • Linnell recalled to Rolling Stone: "The melody and chords were cooked up years earlier, and the lyrics had to be shoehorned in to match the melody, which explains why the words are so oblique. I mean beautiful. I didn't find out what the Longines Symphonette was until after the song was released. It rhymed with 'infinite' (sort of)."

Comments: 14

  • Adam Bomb from HellThis song is about the fact they are descendants of Cain, made of light, and are "fallen angels". The "blue canary" is talking about Cain because he is made of electricity now because he is a f--king sorcerer. The "bee in your bonnet" is about the fact they are all a f--king hive mind organism. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS for f--k's sake. He is even SAYING his ancestor was the Colousus of Rhodes, a GIANT. There are giant shapeshifters made of light all around us right now. We are being enslaved by satan. This is the end of the world.
  • Tyler from San AntonioIt never rests is the reference to a clock. They don’t rest.
  • Oliver from UkI thought this song was about stalking, in which a guy (the stalker) is referring to himself as a bird "I'm a little glowing friend...but really I'm not actually your friend" and that he is dedicated to this girl "build a birdhouse in your soul" as a bird house is where a bird would live
  • Tom V from New YorkRe: John Linnell saying the song "is about a night light...and that's it"...Reminds me of another John...John Lennon...saying "Lucy in the Sky with diamonds" is just about his son, Julian's crayon drawing of a girl..lucy.. in his elementary school class. (and that's it).. All three Johns are brilliant...and intellectually sly...Can't for the life of me, wrap my head around the fact that Lennon did not catch the LSD reference...with him trying to stay in the US, and the Government always after him for being subversive...You have to wonder...That tangent aside...the "two Johns" come off really funny..but most of their early work is extremely clever, and "DEEP"...Hah ha! ( I love them)...love this song...
  • Evangeline from UkOn the subject of Ulysses and Odysseus, they are the same person: Ulysses was the Romans' name (they spelt it Ulixes) for the Greek Odysseus. The character featured in Homer's two epic poems, The Iliad and the Odyssey, and the name Ulysses was borrowed by the Irish novelist James Joyce, hence a reader's reference to "Ulysses" being a different book - correct, but obviously the name is a reference to the ancient hero of Homer's work. I love the TMBG song, by the way.
  • Milly from Swansea, United KingdomMy mum and I say 'Make a little Molehole in your soul' it sounds funny.. Lol.
  • Jir from London, United KingdomDefinition of cooky brilliance: this song
  • Carrie from Houston, TxThis song is so completely brilliant. Incredibly WORDY, it was a favorite of my brother's and mine. There are still incidents where one of us will start humming or singing it. . .we still both know all the words.
  • Jas from Clifton, TxGreat song. It's to go on songfacts and read all the comments where people read all sorts of bizarre things into otherwise simple songs, most of the time completely disregarding what the artists themselves say about the songs. TMBG have said repeatedly that this is just a song about a night light, sung from the night light's POV. Guy in Birmingham, does it really matter that the guy mixed up the mythology? It's a myth anyway, a made up story about a guy looking for a golden sheep skin, that in and of itself could be taken so many ways. Maybe Jason wanted to hear the Sirens too, maybe he got tied to a boat too, maybe Jason and Odysseus (yeah, that's the actual spelling, Ulysses is a totally different book) were good buddies but they had a falling out and didn't want to share the same myth. You don't know, you weren't there. Let people live in peace without correcting one mistake with another. This song is pretty innovative. I think the ability to write about something that is so unbelievably simple that people have to come up with unbelievably complex explanations takes some real brilliance. It's a night light talking to a guy in the room. Maybe a girl, don't start. Maybe it was Jason and Odysseus in the room after they came back from their respective voyages, once again, you don't know so how can it possibly be wrong?
  • Spinz from Middletown, NyThis is my ALL TIME FAVORITE SONG.
  • Mark from Madison, WiSomehow the phrase "countless screaming argonauts" always makes me laugh. This song is a total ear worm, too.
  • Guy from Birmingham, AlUmmmmmm, I'm afraid you're mixing up your mythology, there, Jerry. It was in fact Ulysses (Oddeseus) who wanted to hear the sirens, not Jason. And, Johnny, couldn't agree with you more, this song is theit greatest.
  • Jerry from Nashville, TnThe connection between a lighthouse and Jason and the Argonauts lies in the story of when the Argo sailed past the island of the Sirens. The Sirens alluring song lured sailors to wreck their boats on the rocks. Jason wanted to hear the song without danger, so he had his men tie him to the mast and plug their ears with wax. Well, once they tied him to the mast, being sailors at sea and all, some stuff happened that didn't make the books.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThis is an awesome song. Maybe one of my favorites by They Might Be Giants.
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