Birdhouse In Your Soul

From This Might Be A Wiki
Music video for "Birdhouse In Your Soul"

song name Birdhouse in Your Soul
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Flood, Birdhouse In Your Soul (EP), Direct From Brooklyn, Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants, A User's Guide To They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity, Flood + Apollo 18, 50,000,000 They Might Be Giants Songs Can't Be Wrong
year 1990
first played November 25, 1989 (1239 known performances)
run time 3:20
sung by John Linnell


We're not really into writing songs with secret meanings or coded messages. I mean, for example, "Birdhouse In Your Soul" is a song about a nightlight. That's it. It's written from the perspective of a nightlight 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.
  • Linnell spoke more about writing the song in a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone[1]:
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.
  • The Longines Symphonette was a radio show sponsored by Longines, a watch manufacturer. Linnell admitted in a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, "I didn't find out what the Longines Symphonette was until after the song was released. It rhymed with 'infinite' (sort of)."
  • Musically, "Birdhouse in Your Soul" interpolates elements of "Summer in the City" by '60s folk rock band The Lovin' Spoonful. According to Linnell, this was inspired by the intense heat during the recording of Flood in the summer of 1989.[2] The car horn-like trumpet samples in the bridge of "Birdhouse" recall the traffic sounds sampled in "Summer in the City", and the songs use similar rhythms in their chord progressions. Part of the bridge of "Summer in the City" is also incorporated into some live performances of "Birdhouse".
  • The song's video was one of many directed by Adam Bernstein, and was filmed inside the New York County Surrogate's Court and Hall of Records building located at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan. Linnell once said in an interview, "I tell people it's my house."
  • John Flansburgh designed and created the William Allen White "eye sunglasses" for the video.[3]
  • "Blue Canary"[4] is the title of a 1953 song by Vincent Fiorino, which has lyrics on the sadder side about loneliness and comforting but has "happy" music.
  • "Bluebird of happiness" is a common trope stemming from the widespread belief in bluebirds as heralds of good luck to come. This may have inspired the "bluebird of friendliness" line.
  • After appearing in an advert for Clarks Shoes[5] in 2010, the song returned to the UK Singles Chart for three weeks, after a 20-year hiatus.
  • References to this song appear in the episode "Pigeon" of ABC's show Pushing Daisies. The episode won a Primetime Emmy for its music. You can view a clip on YouTube.[6]
  • Featured on ABC's Private Practice in the opening scenes of the episode "Yours, Mine and Ours" on April 30th, 2009.
  • Blue nightlights inspired by this song were sold as promotional items for Flood. These did not actually resemble blue canaries, but blue canary-shaped nightlights available from Internet venues have become a popular novelty item, leading to their inclusion as an offering of 2012's They Might Be Giants Instant Fan Club.
  • In the UK, official sheet music appears to have been issued and is included in the 2014 Faber catalogue. The arrangement is in C major (the key of the original recording; it is usually played live in D major — probably because it's much easier for guitars in that key) and displays a few minor discrepancies in the melody, harmony and chord inversions in comparison with the original song. The arranger and detailed publication history is currently unknown.

Song Themes

1964 World's Fair, Animals, Beach, Clothes, Colors, Death, Friendship, Hearing, I Am, Kingdom Of Loathing Reference, Letters Of The Alphabet, Loneliness, Mythology, Numbers, Oblique Cliches, Occupations, Oxymorons, Paradoxes, And Contradictory Statements, Recursion, Religion, Sailing, Screaming, Size, Sleep, Stories, Tongue-Twisters, Trade Names, Transportation


  • Watch it on Vimeo.png
  • Tonight Show performance (available on Gigantic DVD). Watch it on Youtube.png

Current Rating

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Birdhouse In Your Soul is currently ranked #1 out of 910. (515 wikians have given it an average rating of 9.29)