Birdhouse In Your Soul

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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 (1233 known performances)
run time 3:20
sung by John Linnell


  • The song is a story of a child's nightlight, told from the nightlight's point of view.
  • Musically, "Birdhouse in Your Soul" interpolates elements of "Summer in the City" by 60s folk rock band The Lovin' Spoonful. According to John Linnell, this was inspired by the intense heat during the recording of Flood in the summer of 1989. 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.
  • The Longines Symphonette was a radio show sponsored by Longines, a watch manufacturer. The slogan for Longines was "It doesn't rest". The Longines Symphonette also released many records of their shows and other recordings by the Symphonette. Later, the Symphonette music was sold off to WEA and recordings were issued credited to just the "Symphonette Society". Likewise, later Texas Instruments started using the Longines trade name to make transistor radios[1] as well as other items. Linnell admits, in a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone,[2] "I didn't find out what the Longines Symphonette was until after the song was released. It rhymed with 'infinite' (sort of)."
  • In the same interview, Linnell says, "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 song's video was directed by Adam Bernstein and filmed inside the New York County Surrogate's Court and Hall of Records building located at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan. "I tell people it's my house." - Linnell
  • John Flansburgh has acknowledged that he designed and made 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

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Birdhouse In Your Soul is currently ranked #1 out of 908. (508 wikians have given it an average rating of 9.30)