They Might Be Giants

Songfacts®:

  • John Flansburgh told Rolling Stone: "While we'd have a tad more street cred to cite Black Sabbath, I think we were really trying to make some of 'Hey Hey We're the Monkees' our own with this one. Any song like this is kind of a manifesto, and although we had recorded a version early on, I think including it here was a way to telegraph to all who might care that we were very much going to carry on as we had started - which is to say complicated and impossible to pigeonhole." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Beau - Phoenix, AZ
  • While it is a very common practice for a group to release a self-titled album, it is relatively rare for groups to have a self-titled song as well. Other examples of this practice include (and are by): "Black Sabbath," "Iron Maiden," "Bad Religion," "Green Day," and "Bad Company." Surely you readers can come up with more examples!
  • To put all rumors to rest: They Might Be Giants get their name (via a 1971 film of the same title) from Miguel de Cervantes' early 1600s novel Don Quixote, from the most famous reference of that character's having a paranoid delusion that windmills were giants waving their arms. This is where we get the expression "tilting at windmills."

    And unlike most classic literature, Don Quixote is not a roaring bore, but a comedy and satire of the tales of knights and chivalry; the title character is an ordinary working grunt who goes mad from reading too much fiction and designates himself a knight-errant, then proceeds out into the world to go on self-appointed quests, to the bafflement of everybody around him. For a modern context, think of what would happen if a basement-dwelling fanboy read one too many comic books and decided that he was a superhero, and then sews up a costume out of pajamas and goes out getting into all kinds of crazy adventures. Cult film director Terry Gilliam has been trying to make a film based on the book on and off for years, if that tells you how much fun it is.
  • We have no idea what on Earth the lyrics to this song mean, but some fun theories may be found at the TMBG fansite Wiki. We'd honestly hate to put down any of these elegant theories.

Comments: 1

  • Fred from Laurel, MdThe self-introductory song idea also brings to mind "We" by The Roches ("We are Meggie and Terre and Suzzy/Meggie and Terre and Suzzy Roche/We don't give out our ages/And we don't give out our phone numbers/ ..."). Hey, there's no Roches songs on this site! We've got to remedy that!
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