Ana Ng

From This Might Be A Wiki
Music video for "Ana Ng"
1988 Handbill Advert
Pogo comic strip, Aug. 9, 1953: Churchy La Femme shoots a hole in a desktop globe

song name Ana Ng
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Lincoln, Ana Ng (Single), Then: The Earlier Years, Selections From Then, Direct From Brooklyn, Best Of The Early Years, Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants, A User's Guide To They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity
year 1988
first played September 28, 1988 (632 known performances)
run time 3:23
sung by John Linnell; Lisa Klapp speaks the bridge


  • The title of the track came from an experience the Johns had when they found a huge number of "Ng"s in the phone book. Linnell: "I think I was collecting possible song ideas and, for some reason, I ended up looking in the phone book, and there were about four pages of this name that contains no vowels, Ng. I was fascinated because it's a name I didn't know about before, and it was filling up a large chunk of the Manhattan white pages. I called up some of the numbers kind of experimentally to find out how it was pronounced, and I got the phone machine of a Dr. Ng and I was kind of relieved. The message said, 'Dr. Ng is not in,' and I had my material." (Pitchfork Magazine, 1996) Ng is a common Cantonese family name, and it is correctly pronounced like the last sound in "dong."
  • Linnell: "The other inspiration for [Ana Ng] was a Pogo comic strip. [...] Some of the characters are digging a hole. They decide they're going to dig to China, but one of the smarter characters pulls this huge revolver out of a drawer and shoots a hole 'in the desktop globe.' Then they look at the other side and the hole is in the Indian Ocean." (Pitchfork Magazine, 1996). The Pogo strip by Walt Kelly that inspired Linnell appeared on August 9, 1953; the character Churchy La Femme shoots the desktop globe.
  • In a 1988 interview on MTV, Linnell said, "The name Ng seems to be a Vietnamese name...So if you look at the globe and you find Vietnam, you'll see that the opposite side of the world from Vietnam is Peru. So the song, presumably, is about someone in Peru, writing about somebody in Vietnam. But I didn't know that when I wrote it."
  • Flansburgh has referred to the guitar sound in the song as one of the coolest the band had created, and he has said that the song has a "Latin feel."
  • The video was directed by Adam Bernstein and the exterior shots were filmed at the FDNY Training Academy, Randall's Island, New York City. Throughout the music video, portraits of John Flansburgh's grandfather and Linnell's great grandfather can be spotted. The video also includes a shot of cards from "Touring", a card game dating back to 1906 that was popular in the United States during the early 1960s. (For more information on the making of the video, see Myke Weiskopf Interviews Adam Bernstein).
  • The line "I don't want the world; I just want your half," is said by Lisa Klapp, a friend of John and John's, and recorded through a telephone. TMBG likes to mess around with the delivery of the line in concert:
  • On Severe Tire Damage, Flans can be heard screaming it into his guitar pickups in the manner of a racetrack announcer.
  • On Live!! New York City, Linnell sings no words and imitates the sound of radio static. (Note: The Live!! New York City version and the Severe Tire Damage version are the same recording; on STD, the radio static was replaced with the pickup screams in studio)
  • Linnell sometimes sings "It's a small girl after all" during the bridge instead of the part about the bridge when played live.
  • In 1996, Linnell would occasionally open the song with the chant of "OVERSIZED LOAD," and this line would, in the bridge, replace "I don't want the world; I just want your half."
  • Most often, he has also been known to sing the aforementioned line in a trembly falsetto to a melody similar to "Love people are there / The smell of love is everywhere" from "I've Got A Match."
  • The line "eighty dolls yelling 'Small Girl After All'" is a reference to the ride "It's A Small World", created for the 1964 World's Fair and now residing at several Disney theme parks.
  • The line "water spirals the wrong way out the sink" alludes to the mistaken belief that water going down a sink rotates counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere due to the Coriolis effect.
  • In the FAQ section that was previously on, Linnell said the line "I don't want the world, I just want your half" "came out of a conversation we once had about money."
  • Linnell sometimes sings "human hair" instead of "humid air" when the song is played live.
  • In the early 90s show Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa says that she likes John Linnell and a bit of "Ana Ng" plays. A picture of TMBG from the "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" video follows.
  • The song appeared briefly in the film Yes Man in the background at the Harry Potter party while the characters discuss the exclusivity of owning a "Costco" card.
  • The main riff may have been borrowed from Bob Marley's 1980s song "Redemption Song". The riff occurs at around 2:10.

Song Themes

1964 World's Fair, Age, Backwards, Cities, Everything, Fade Out, Geography, In Back, Kingdom Of Loathing Reference, Loneliness, Love, Numbers, Onomatopoeia, Oxymorons, Paradoxes, And Contradictory Statements, People (Imaginary), Non-John Vocals, Questions, Real Estate, Recursion, References To Other Songs Or Musicians, Size, Talking, Not Singing, Telecommunication, Temperature, This Town, Tongue-Twisters, Trade Names, Transportation, Upside Down, Water, Weather


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Ana Ng is currently ranked #2 out of 803. (364 wikians have given it an average rating of 9.32)