Interpretations:Ana Ng

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Cold war[edit | edit source]

Well, what do I think its about.

Cold War. China for Ana Ng Cold War. United States for the singers Point of view The struggle feels like its never going to end.

All alone at the '64 worlds fair. (Same year as china's 1st nuclear test) 80 dolls yelling small girl after all (All of his superiors telling him his contact is someone small) DuPont pavillion (The place where she's waiting) Why was the bench still warm, who had been there (The other person telling the infromant what she can and can't say) And in back of the edge of hearing these are the words that the voice was repeating (The voice is his informant telling him what to say, possibly over a mic) The Line that repeats after it is what the informant tells his him to say, and over time he begins to believe it (as does she) When he was driving he realized he loves her and she loves him, the "I dont want the world" line is what he realizes it is, between 2 countries, one wanting the other. But thats not what she wants They dont need me here and I know your there (After he looses his job, or it is no longer needed, he thinks about here again) Everything sticks like a broken record (For her, she realizes more and more that she loves him also) And the truth is they never learned anything about the other nation because of how much they began to fall in love.

They met, fell in love and were told to play that to their advantage. But over time they realized they really did love each other. When thier superiors found out, they reassigned them. They went about other works, but the memory of the other still played heavily in their minds. He was driving and realized it, she was just living out her life when she realized it. The story ( i assume) has a happy ending when they meet each other again after a long wait. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.130.198.70 (talkcontribs) 04:40, 21 May 2006


A cold war love song. Perhaps the best riff they've ever managed it's got it all the giant themes: dislocated love; paranoia; and hopelessness. What makes the Giants not the Smiths is that Linnell sings it like its a regular pop record. When one compares this song with what a band like REM were producing at the time "Stand" or "End of the World as we know it" one wonders if there is any justice in the world. This is the song that should have been a number one in the real charts, not just the college chart. --Mr Tuck 19:00, 31 January 2006

Interpretation 2[edit | edit source]

Ana Ng (the most common Chinese name the Johns found in the Phone book when writing the song) is a woman on the exact opposite side of the world of the singer. The first couple of lines introduce this poetic idea: "Make a hole with a gun, perpendicular/ to the name of this town on a desktop globe/ exit wound in a foreign nation/ showing the home of the one this was written for." In the rest of the song, John (one of 'em) sings more about their relationship, though they "still haven't walked in the glow of each other's majestic presence." (Being the dork TMBG fan that I am, I checked what was on the opposite side of the globe, from Brooklyn, New York, and it's the middle of the Indian Ocean... hey, maybe Ana's a fish [I doubt it]) -MC

Try Lincoln, Nebraska? 68.114.69.217 00:41, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Interpretation 3[edit | edit source]

Ana Ng and I are getting old and we still haven't walked in the glow of each other's majestic presence sums up the song nicely. It is a beautiful song of despair over not having found one's soulmate, believing she must be on the other side of the world and therefore practically unattainable. Using a gun on a globe is suggestive suicide (just point it at your own dome instead). The song also brings back memories of children's cartoons, in which characters dug straight down through the earth and wound up upside-down in China. —Preceding unsigned comment added by an Unknown Author

Interpretation 4[edit | edit source]

The Johns claim that the song is not written from their own perspective but rather from someone's who actually does live opposite of Vietnam. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.151.213.72 (talkcontribs) 23:22, 31 July 2005

That would be in Peru, btw. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.149.109.69 (talkcontribs) 03:40, 7 December 2009

Interpretation 5[edit | edit source]

I agree that this is a gorgeous song of hopeless romance -- the idea that The One is diametrically opposite you on the planet is one of the most depressing, and beautiful, I've ever heard in music -- but I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that this song is also about the futility of human endeavor in general. For all your planning, Linnell seems to suggest, for all your grooming and searching and wanting and hoping, your true love, by sheer accident of birth, might still be on the other side of the world. You can't do anything about it. Certain lines seem to support this idea -- the storm tangling up the wires, for example, is a pretty perfect metaphor for how uncontrollable events defeat the attempts people make to connect with each other. The scene in the video of hands adjusting what looks like a surveyor's instrument -- the person turns the device carefully, goes to make some fine adjustment, and the lens falls off, the hands recoil. Another image representing the transitory nature of what man does, how all his works crumble. And of course there's that last lyric -- "And the truth is, we don't know anything." Man oh man. Only They Might Be Giants. —Preceding unsigned comment added by an Unknown Author

Interpretation 6[edit | edit source]

Well Vietnam is pretty far away too. Ana Ng Might Be Vietnamese. "Exit wound in a foreign nation." Doesn't that "dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun duuuun" beat make you think a platoon jumping off a helicopter or something? "I don't want the world, I just want your half" could be an expression of the inherent contradiction of imposing one's principals, no matter how democratic or beneficial, in an imperialistic manner. So maybe Ana Ng is one of those extended metaphor thingies for all Vietnam, never walking in the glow of the majestic presence of a capitalist economy and democratic government. Riiight. Uh, so, in conclusion, if you look at parts of the lyrics out of context, and glaze over the rest, Ana Ng becomes a profound commentary on the failure of the U.S.'s interventionist policies in Southeast Asia. Hey, you know what Mill said about the importance of wrong ideas in the marketplace. --Josh Stern

Pogo Comic[edit | edit source]

I believe the gunshot cartoon was from a Pogo comic. Pogo was also the source of Lines Upon A Tranquil Brow. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vovat (talkcontribs) 17:25, 24 July 2004

I read somewhere that the John's were inspired to write this song when they saw a cartoon where a cupid shot an arrow through the Earth. I've also heard the same story, but a gun was shot instead.
I checked the globe out of curiousity as well, on I found out that directly opposite of Brooklyn is actually somewhere near a city called Yinchwan, China. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Eversion (talkcontribs) 20:05, 15 June 2004
China? Opposite brooklyn? Not a chance. Both Brooklyn and China are northern hemisphere... to be truly opposite, you need to switch hemispheres as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 131.250.240.220 (talkcontribs) 04:13, 9 July 2004

Interpretation 7[edit | edit source]

As I've been involved in a long-distance relationship for quite some time, I've found that the song's lyrics very accurately describe exactly how it feels to be in one: rewarding, and yet at times very depressing. I could elaborate, but many of the above who've already contributed have done so better than I could ever hope to. - TheNintenGenius 16:43, 5 September 2004

Interpretation 8[edit | edit source]

If you aim a gun perpendicular to a globe with the barrel at Brooklyn, you're shooting straight across, because the globe is assumed to be acting as your y-axis. The gun is then, your x-axis. The exit wound of the bullet is in a foreign nation, in the same hemisphere. Try it sometime. Get a gun and shoot the mess out of a globe. - Pacdude 03:54, 31 October 2004

Interpretation 9[edit | edit source]

However, there's the intriguing line "Water spirals the wrong way out the sink," which would imply the Southern Hemisphere. All in all, there's no way to logically deduce which angle would have been used, but if John & John say they were talking about China, then China it is, in my opinion. It's silly to argue the details, because in true TMBG form, they don't quite fit together, but that's part of what makes it a fun song. - Matt 00:24, 22 November 2004

Interpretation 10[edit | edit source]

I had a thought: the narrative of Ana Ng could all take place in the course of a day. The singer is in his apartment looking at his globe and thinking about the other side of the world. The closest he can get to the other side of the world is the ('64)World's Fair, where he sees all kinds of crazy stuff. Then the third verse takes place in the bus depot on the way home, where he thinks about how pointless the day was (sticking like a broken record, playing over and over like any other day) and realises that he "doesn't know anything". Taa daa! - Dave 19:40, 26 November 2004

It's a small world[edit | edit source]

I'm pretty sure that the "Eighty dolls yelling 'Small girl after all'" is a reference to the "It's a Small World After All" boat ride, and someone (possiably Ana?) thinking that the dolls are singing about her. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 204.186.253.89 (talkcontribs) 03:11, 31 January 2005

The "It's a Small World After All" attraction, later moved to Walt Disney World, was created as a UNICEF exhibit for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The ride features scenes from nations around the globe. The singer contemplates the many other places his "true love" may be found. (Perhaps China, but she could be anywhere, even the DuPont Pavillion.) It's more depressing when you consider that he is "all alone" in a ride very similar to a classic "Tunnel of Love." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rljenk (talkcontribs) 23:21, 31 January 2005
I'm gonna agree here and say that it's flipping it. Saying "It's a small girl after all." Is putting into perspective the fact that if your one true love is on the other side of the world the world is not, in fact, small. It's pretty big, and the girl is small in comparison. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rilom (talkcontribs) 19:00, 15 February 2007

Interpretation 12[edit | edit source]

I'd say this song has been pretty well summed up by everyone previously. There is one thing missing, though, and it's one of my favourite parts of the song. When he's at the World's Fair, the bench is still warm: his True Love was there, at that very bench, and he just missed her! Isn't that the way it goes? I have a personal experience just like that. I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and my fiancée is from Buffalo, New York. When we were much younger, I was in Boy Scouts (in Cleveland) and she was in Girl Scouts (in Buffalo). Now, apparently, our troops both went to an attraction in Buffalo AT THE SAME TIME!! So, we probably saw each other when we were there and didn't even realize it, and it wasn't until college NINE YEARS LATER that we finally met and fell in love. Wild, huh? --Managerpants 19:34, 4 Feb 2005 (EST)

Interpretation 13[edit | edit source]

While Ana Ng is definitely a love song, I think it's actually about a sort of love triangle. Notice that everytime before the chorus plays, the narrarator makes a reference to something else that makes noise, be it a record that may be broken or backwards, or be it a mysterious voice speaking through the PA at the bus stop. This leads me to believe that this song in fact has two narrarators; the chorus singer and the verse singer. The chorus singer could potentially be a famous singer of some sort, which would explain his voice on the records. The singer of the chorus is in love with Ana, where the verse singer is a nobody in this situation. For some mysterious reason, however, all of the chorus singer's attempts to communicate with Ana are accidentilly intercepted by the verse singer. The first record is backwards because apparently, everything in Ana Ng's world is backwards, so it would play forward in a record player over there. This verse singer, being constantly bombarded with things refering to this mysterious Ana Ng has made him obsessed with the girl. The chorus singer has accidentilly made the verse singer fall in love with his girl. Which one of them gets the girl in the end is not revealed, and is left up to the imagination (though it seems that the chorus singer would, since the verse singer is nothing but an obsessed freak that Ana has never met).

I think that in some ways, the music video supports this theory. During the chorus, both Johns are dancing around like puppets, in complete sync with each other. This is because they are both slaves of their love for Ana Ng. There's also a small segment where the two walk from opposite sides of the screen, meet at the middle, shake hands, and keeep walking, their heads pointed to the ground. The two lovers of Ana may in fact know each other, and not realize that the other is trying to steal his girl.

Anyway, that's my take on the song. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mushroom Pie (talkcontribs) 12:59, 28 March 2005

Interpretation 14[edit | edit source]

"Her voice is a backwards record" may be refering to the fact that she speaks a language that is completely unintelligible to him which reminds me of the phrase to describe something that is not understandable to someone due to lacking certain knowledge, "it's all Chinese to me" —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.91.171.60 (talkcontribs) 21:42, 22 April 2005

Interpretation 15[edit | edit source]

"Like a whirlpool, it never ends": from Tommy Roe's '69 hit single "Dizzy". I used to ride my rocking horse to that song, maybe the Johns did too. --IVO 20:30, 7 May 2005

Kingdom of loathing[edit | edit source]

Interesting tidbit. A friend who plays Kingdoms of Loathing alerted me to this, which is apparently the final fight before you reach ascension, whatever that means.

''You're fighting a Giant Desktop Globe ''

''This is a massive, full-color rendering of the entire planet, made to sit on an equally massive desktop. It spins menacingly, perpendicular to its shiny metal axis. Certain continents look much more threatening than others, but the overall effect is startling.''

To defeat it, you need to use the NG. No idea what an NG is, but here's the text my friend sent me:

''You use the NG.''

''You wind up the NG and let it fly. It makes a hole perpendicular to the name of The Seaside Town, with an exit wound in a foreign nation. It splits cleanly into two halves. You don't want the whole thing, or even your half, so you leave it and continue on.''

—Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.218.249.32 (talkcontribs) 12:01, 9 June 2005

Ascension is the last and final world you can reach in Kingdom of Loathing. I heard not many clans have made it that far. I guess the NG is an item he whas carrying along on the moment he fought the Giant Desktop Globe, wich he had to use. But I dont play it, so dont take it for true. As for the rest, the constellation is creepy, but does not support the interprations of the lyrics of the song. Interesting, though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.205.17.214 (talkcontribs) 13:40, 8 July 2005
Kingdom of loathing thing is dead on. I'm used to hearing the live version during which the line "I don't want to whole world, i just want your half" is substituted with a gargely sound...I found out what was "painted on the bridgeThink about it. You don't want the whole thing. You're not asking for the world, it doesn't even matter, nothing in the world matters, it's such a "small girl after all", but if I can have the part of the world you're on, than maybe, just maybe, I'll have a better chance of finding you." And, quoting a few posts up "I've also heard the same story, but a gun was shot instead." Now you've not only got the whole first chorus, but that bridge part as well. It does too support the rest of the song! Life seems like a game sometimes to me.... and one more thing, in the game "It makes a hole perpendicular to the name of The Seaside Town" Vietnam IS on the south side of the South China sea. So if this was written for a girl living in Vietnam, as an earlier post says, you'd have to be nuts to not think the game had something to do with it. The chances of this all being by accident are as likely as finding The One. --Rankydoo 15:14, 24 August 2005
Hello. I'm a player of Kingdom of Loathing. Today I'll be answering your questions about the NG item.
There are five letters that players can collect. W, A, N, D, and G. Players can combine many of the game's items to create new items, and use the five letters to spell out two words, wand and wang. Since you can combine only two items at one time, the words have to be spelled in increments, wa and nd or ng. The NG used to be a useless item until Ascension was developed, and the Desktop Globe enemy implimented.
The creator of Kingdom of Loathing is a big fan of They Might Be Giants, and has inserted references to them basically anywhere he can.
By the way, spelling out wang gets you an item called the wang, it's like a word processor that corrects bad spelling in the in-game chat system. (Based on an old computer system called a wang.) Spelling wand gets you the wand of nagamar, which is necessary to win the game. Not that it's important. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.233.51.55 (talkcontribs) 02:12, 9 September 2005
I also play the Kingdom of Loathing and when it says The Seaside Town, it means a location in the game called "The Seaside Town". The location of this mythical land is unknown, so I doubt any ingame text is related to Vietnam. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 198.189.164.206 (talkcontribs) 02:20, 26 October 2005
Kingdom of Loathing is full of TMBG references. They seem to be Jick (the game's creator's) favourite band. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.47.98.56 (talkcontribs) 09:04, 14 December 2005

Interpretation 17[edit | edit source]

It's about someone who wants the unattainable, but can't have it. He makes it out to sound like he's the victim here, but really he's just a complainer. "I don't want the world, I just want your half." He wants whatever he can't have, be it a girl he'll never meet or the half of the world he can't own, regardless of however much he actually has. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 12.202.180.184 (talkcontribs) 01:06, 22 September 2005

Interpretation 18[edit | edit source]

Am I the only one who is reminded of Weezer's "Across The Sea"? (Although of course, "Ana Ng" predates "Across The Sea" by eight years) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.4.37.244 (talkcontribs) 20:06, 23 November 2005

Interpretation 19[edit | edit source]

referencing "i don't want the world, i just want your half"...i read a comment from the john's that said it came from an argument over money with one of his friends. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 12.177.52.245 (talkcontribs) 00:01, 23 December 2005

Interpretation 20[edit | edit source]

Okay, we've pretty much settled on what's the song's story is about, so I'll just say how I feel when I listen to it.

Even though a bunch of other people have already said this, I must say: I absolutely love this song because, to me, it settles the age-old debate of soul mates. Is there one true love and soul mate somewhere out there that both of you will know it is your destiny to be with as soon as you two meet? Or is there simply so many people on the Earth, that it's impossible, since chances are you'd never meet this soul mate, and the whole thing is pointless.

But Ana Ng solves the problem. There is a soul mate for you out there, somewhere, anywhere, even on the other side of the world, that both of you would know you're destined to be with as soon as you meet. But you'll never meet them. And you don't know they exist. And you never will. And that's what makes it so beautiful. This imcompleteness you feel when you realize you've wasted your time. If you feel so sad that you'll never meet this one, true love, this feeling of sadness and imcompleteness is like a testiment to your love, that shows you that you could only feel this sad if there was a chance you had done all you can to fufill your destiny. And no matter what you do, when you die, and you're not with the one person you love more than anyone you could imagine, and they feel the same, you get that amazing feeling of emotion. And you know, in your heart, that even though neither of you knew it, or will ever know it, there is someone out there who loves you more than anyone could. VolatileChemical 04:42, 20 January 2006


VolatileChemical, you almost had it but he forgot the second verse.
"All alone at the '64 World's Fair
Eighty dolls yelling "Small girl after all
Who was at the Dupont Pavilion?
Why was the bench still warm? Who had been there?"
The narriator and the soul mate go to the '64 world's fair,which John went to as a child and loved. The narriator gets off the "Small World After All" ride, which was built for the '64 world's fair, and sits an a bench which his soul mate was sitting on a few seconds before him. This was as close as he ever gets to her.
--Nathan 00:46, 29 August 2006

Interpretation 21[edit | edit source]

Interesting point, when switching between the many song options in Sounds on the original tmbg.com [1] you run across Ana Ng and Nixon says "Ah, my historic visit to China." Doesn't this imply that this song is about China? I suppose it could be the Oriental origin of the name but It could be something. When I was young everyone talked about digging a hole to China as if it where just on the opposite side of America. --Holdhurst 17:24, 16 Feb 2006 (CST)

Interpretation 22[edit | edit source]

I. Love. This. Song. Maybe I am a stereotypical TMBG fan, but this is beautifully written. Lemme take a shot at picking it apart. =)

Well. I believe the song is about lost love. Don't we all believe that? So. The narrator is never gonna see this Ana Ng girl again. He's in love, he can't stop thinking about her, she's probably like, "Who's this (name) guy again?" Just a small summary. The "...painted on a bridge..." part symbolizes his thoughts-- the smallest things trigger the biggest thoughts. To me, Ana Ng sounds like a foriegner (definitly, "her" name was in a Chinese phonebook, right?). Who knows how the narrator met her, but still. He's never gonna see her again, and he's sad/angry. This triggers the "They don't need me..." thing. Obviously, he's angry, then gives into his love and longing, which is the "And the truth is we don't know anything" because he gives up hope, or he's reflecting, saying like, "You never know." What an ameture interpretation! Sorry guys. I'm pressed for time here. --Lemita 19:48, 23 Mar 2006 (CST)

Interpretation 23[edit | edit source]

I think this song is about a love that somehow died. Even though the narrator lives on the oposite side of the world from Ana. In the beginning of the song, narrator is thinking about Ana and how everything there is different from where he currently lives.

"Listen Ana here my words they're the ones you would think I would say if there was a me for you"

To me it sounds like the narrator is breaking up with Ana Ng.

Who was at the DuPont Pavillian?

Why was the bench still warm? Who had been there?

-- |Molly 02:18, 30 May 2006

Interpretation 24[edit | edit source]

Here, it sounds like Ana and the narrator made a date. But, when he gets there, he discovers that she is cheating on him.


I don't want the world, I just want your half

The narrator I think then gets in a fight with her. He's expressing how he feels to Ana and she isn't listening at all.


They don't need me here and I know you're there

The narrator has broken up with Ana now. He's given up on her and has accepted that they can never be together, no matter how much he wants to be with her.


Wow, that was really long... and sad.- (Firefly) 22:03, 11 Jun, 2006 (EDT)

Cuppacoffee, I'm going to have to disagree with you on the "Listen Ana here my words they're the ones you would think I would say if there was a me for you" part.
Read it very carefully. There the words you would think I would say if there was a me for you. if there was a ME for You. o.k.? I think that Ana is breaking up with the narrarator and he is pleading that they were meant for each other. --Slipp 03:41, 16 June 2006

Interpretation 25[edit | edit source]

this song's about one person living somewhere, and the other living in asia(i forget which country). there's a bunch of random crap in the middle to fool us up and the last line before fade-out kinda sums it up. "and the truth is we don't know anything." How could this song be about war? --jdc 22:29, 23 June 2006

Interpretation 26[edit | edit source]

The song has multiple meanings, as is often the case with poetry. The verse about the '64 Worlds Fair is most certainly about the Vietnam War as well as depicting someone just barely missing a chance for love.

"All alone at the '64 World's Fair"

1964 was the year the Vietnam war officially started after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Except for participation by Australia and a few other allies, the US was pretty much "all alone" in the endeavor and in opposition to world opinion. (side note: most of Europe along with Canada, Australia and the Soviet Union also did not participate in the '64 World's Fair in NY due to rules violations by the US. Another metaphore for the US isolation at the time. The theme of the '64 World's Fair was "Peace Through Understanding")

"80 dolls yelling "Small girl after all""

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave president Johnson sweeping powers to conduct the war, passed by 80 votes in the Senate. Vietnam is a small country and it was inconceivable that the US military might would be incapable of subduing such a small, third-world country. The idea was that the US would take on the communists in this small scale conflict rather than facing them head on. Hence, "Small girl after all".

"Who was at the DuPont Pavillian?"

The DuPont corporation manufactured Agent Orange and Napalm during the Vietnam War.

"Why was the bench still warm? Who had been there?"

US intervention in Vietnam began shortly after France withdrew after losing the French Indochina War following more than 100 years of colonialism.

Now, contemplate the line "It's like a whirlpool and it never ends"

—Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.53.165.253 (talkcontribs) 00:46, 29 August 2006

Interpretation 27[edit | edit source]

No one has mentioned how I see this song...It's a song about a girl that lives a long way away (obviously). But it's not a pure song like everyone is saying. The author wants to be with Ana, and she claims to want to be with him. But when it comes down to it, he suspects she's cheating on him. "Why was the bench still warm? Who had been there?" Although they have seen each other (at the World's Fair in particular), they haven't been a couple together. "Walked in the glow of each other's majestic presence" being a metaphor for a relationship. Ana is driving him crazy with her constant chatter while they are apart - "her voice is a backwards record, it's like a whirlpool and it never ends", but when they are together, he suspects she doesn't love him at all, and that possibly, she's playing the same game with lots of other guys. "That time when the storm tangled up the wires." *This* is why he is trying to tell her that he isn't meant for her - "if there was a me for you". He's saying "Listen, I think about you all the time, I'd love to be with you. But this won't work, you're over there, and I'm over here. You're playing me for a fool." —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.7.37.69 (talkcontribs) 01:05, 3 September 2006

Interpretation 28[edit | edit source]

As an aside...

I used Google Earth to determine where, exactly, the place that is on the exact opposite of the world from Brooklyn is. It's in the middle of the Indian Ocean. --—Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.131.248.233 (talkcontribs) 20:41, 9 September 2006

Interpretation 29[edit | edit source]

It's about a war that didn't officially exist, a woman who sort of did (Ng=Smith). It's about growing up when A Certain War was accelerating. World events intertwine with personal feelings & experiences whether we want them to or not, then the whole thing gets distorted by memory.

I don't think the narrator ever met anyone named Ana Ng. She is a romantic concept. It must've been a drag hitting puberty in the late 60's. Would you like a little side of drama with your drama?

So summary: young man drama, 1960's drama, feeling helpless & useless & maybe a little guilty, escapist fantasy in the form of a woman in a very different culture.

One of the best TMBG songs ever. We certainly can agree to that. I've listened to it since it was released and to this day I do not fail to rock out. --Pilgrim 07:05, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Interpretation 30[edit | edit source]

Is anyone itnerested to know that TMBG shot a music video at the site of the 1964 World's Fair? I don't think it was this song though; oddly, I believe it was "Don't Let's Start". --Special:Contributions/64.8.132.253 14:56, 27 August 2007

Interpretation 31[edit | edit source]

I originally thought that it was guy who thinks his true love is on the other side of the world, taking it literally. But one night, I realized what it meant. It's about a guy who is in love with a girl, maybe she's famous, maybe he has never seen her, but he feels (emphasize "feels") like she is on the other side of the world. "And her voice is a backwards record" could mean either that she is foreign or that her voice is so graceful and mystical like a backwards record and "it's like a whirlpool and it never ends" is saying that her voice is constantly "whirling" through his head nonstop. "Ana Ng and I are getting old and we still haven't walk in the glow of each other's presence" is his fear of either him outgrowing the love, or is expressing his counting off the days he had without her. "Listen Ana, hear my words, there the ones you would think I would say if there was a me for you" is saying that what he saying is infact for her, and he would say it if she knew he existed. "All alone at the '64 World's Fair, eighty dolls yelling "Small girl after all" is saying that hid brain relates everything to her. "Who was at the Dupont Pavilion? Why was the bench still warm? Who had been there?" goes deeper into that by saying that he feels as if her presence is near, even though at the same time he feels like she's at the other end of the world. The bus depot line is hard to interpret, but I'll edit this when I figure it out. "And in back of the edge of hearing, these are the words that the voice was repeating:" is saying once again that he cannot get her out of his mind. "I don;t want the world, I just want your half" is saying that he doesn't want to rule the world, he just want's to be with her. "They don't need me here and I know you're there" is saying that he isn't loved where he is, and he sees no reasons against leaving. "Where the world goes by like the humid air" is saying that if he could be with her there, time would pass by gracefully. "And it sticks like a broken record; everything sticks like a broken record; everything sticks until it goes away" is saying that everything about her sticks (and repeats) in his mind. "And the truth is we don't know anything" is his realization that mankind hasn't got anywhere, and she would love him if she tried, but she probably won't. It's a very beautiful song. --Dunklekuh81 01:06, 26 September 2007

Interpretation 32[edit | edit source]

I think Ana Ng has been thoroughly examined for its superficial meanings and significance, but has been overlooked for its literary allusions. This might be a good direction to head in because the Giants, after all, are arts graduates. Has anyone, say, read the poem by Poe called Annabel Lee? Obviously the names of the loved ones to which each poem is written are similar, but there are some themes they share too: a man and a woman's perfect love and the intrusion of fate into their relationship. In the case of Annabel and the writer, they are prevented from perfect love by Anna's death (naturally, with Poe) brought about by God's jealousy at seeing two lovers so perfectly matched, while with Ana Ng, it's a constant, taunting interference involving near misses, bad weather, and the fact that Ana lives opposite him on the planet. Further exploration may yield even more in common between the two and then between Ana Ng and other significant works.

--Bo 19:18, 21 December 2007

Interpretation 33[edit | edit source]

Where in the world is Ana Ng? My guess would be Vietnam. If you watch the video (it's on Youtube), you will notice towards the beginning a magnifying glass moving over a map of Mecombeoni, Peru (Latitude: 17 34S Longitude: 069 36W). Mecombeoni's antipode is in the mouth of the gulf of Tonkin, about 100 miles from the nearest large city, Da Nang. Or is that d A na Ng? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.90.251.27 (talkcontribs) 04:40, 27 March 2008

Interpretation 34[edit | edit source]

Some good thoughts, and some people are way overthinking this. I think this song is about the difficulty of finding a "soulmate." That's why he places her on the exact opposite end of the world from himself and gives her an Asian name to go along with that. She could be someone in the same town, but because he hasn't met her she feels like she is a world away. I don't think it is a literal world away like most seem to suggest.

Think of the chorus. "Ana Ng & I are getting old..." The singer ponders growing older without having someone to share his life with. "... I would say if there was a me for you." Going along with the idea of a soulmate, where everyone feels there is one right person for themselves. He's hoping that his soulmate will wait until she finds him rather than settling for someone else. I agree with a lot of the earlier posts about the "It's a small world" ride. The singer is feeling lonely, and he's in a ride talking about how small the world is, but he feels it is too big to find the one he is meant to be with, so he is hearing "small girl" (Intersting side note, one other ride that Disney took from the 64 worlds fair was "Great moments with Mr. Lincoln" connecting the song to the albums title).

Also supporting the "soulmate theory" the Dupont Pavillion at the 64 world's fair featured music about "The Wonderful World of Chemistry," which could be an obscure reference to the "chemistry" that a couple has with one another (but that might be a stretch.) I think the reference t the bench being warm is not ominous, as has been suggested, but rather shows the degree to which he is searching. The bench is still warm, perhaps I just missed an encounter with my soulmate. Similarly, there are many references to repetition. "It's like a whirlpool and it never ends." "These are the words that the voice was repeating." "And it sticks like a broken record" These show that he is constantly thinking about who his soulmate might be and cannot get it off of his mind. (cf. Percy Sledge, "When a Man Loves a Woman").

"and the truth is we don't know anything" We may feel like we know who our soulmate is going to be, and where to look, but in the end it just happens that you find her or you don't - or alternatively we have this idealized concept of who would be our soulmate, but our idealized soulmate is probably noting like the person who is best for us."

Essentially, it is a love song, but not to a specific person, but rather to that someone who is yet to have been met. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.143.245.14 (talkcontribs) 21:41, 2 June 2008

The Waitresses[edit | edit source]

I just noticed on Wikipedia that The Waitresses (of Christmas Wrapping fame) released an EP called "I Could Rule the World if I Could only Get the Parts" in 1981. There's a little resemblance between the title of that song and the "I don't want the world, I just want your half" line in Ana Ng. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.152.64.246 (talkcontribs) 01:38, 15 September 2008

I just saw that somebody mentioned The Waitresses release "I Could Rule the World if I Could only Get the Parts" from 1981. Chris Butler solo and with the band The Waitresses played Darinka and CBGBs along with other clubs that TMBG started playing in the early mid 80s. I have read a lot about the performance art at this time, some of which, like Mark Bloch, shared bills with both TMBG and Chris Butler. It may even be possible that they played at the same shows. The documentation for much of the work during this time from this scene is scant and probably only lies in the minds and boxes of the people that were there, maybe. Anyone interested could start with On Edge: Performance Art at the End of The Twentieth Century by C. Carr. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Krueger (talkcontribs) 03:04, 1 August 2010

Interpretation 36[edit | edit source]

You guys can argue about the '64 world's fair outdating online dating services, but I always thought this was a song written from the perspective of a guy who met a girl who lives far away from him online. They aren't necessarily on opposite sides of the world (the first verse is exaggerated since he's exasperated), but they have never "walked in the glow of each other's majestic presence" in their entire relationship. The bridge says that he doesn't want the world, he just wants her part of it. They both were at the '64 world's fair, but they just missed each other at the DuPont Pavilion. The third verse talks about how he's alone where he is, has no job, his family abandoned him, but knows that she's waiting with open arms where she is, in a paradise for him. --SMB 07:50, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Interpretation 37[edit | edit source]

Copied/pasted (with brief cuts) from my tumblr, where I posted a lengthy interpretation of the final verse:

“They don’t need me here and I know you’re there.” The speaker is heartbroken. He knows he has a soulmate, and he knows that she is somewhere. His world is meaningless without her, and he knows he has another half in the world. But where?

“Where the world goes by like the humid air.” I didn’t understand this line for a rather long time. Then I figured it out: humid air doesn’t move. And if it does, it’s very slow. He wants to be there, where time seems to stand still; he will be in that moment of love and bliss with his soulmate forever.

“And it sticks like a broken record.” Besides the air being sticky (“sticks” in the literal sense) he knows he may never find her. Whoever this Ana Ng is, he knows he may never be able to “walk in the glow of [her] majestic presence.” And that idea just sticks with him. This is why the line is repeated, but with “everything” in place of “and.” These ideas plague his mind. He realizes he may be destined to be alone.

“And the truth is we don’t know anything.” It’s almost a Plato-like observation. We don’t know anything. He can’t tell if tomorrow he’ll meet Ana Ng, or if he’ll ever meet her at all. It sounds almost defeated; it sounds as if our narrator has given up in some way. However, he continues into the chorus of his song. He relays that they’re both getting old. He can’t give up the fact that she’s out there. --Lemita 22:59, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Make a Hole With a Gun[edit | edit source]

The line, "Make a hole with a Gun perpendicular/To the name of this town on a Desktop Globe/Exit Wound in a foreign nation" compelled me to actually look at where the opposite side of the world would be if someone were to shoot an axis through Brooklyn, NY.

According to Google Earth, Brooklyn, NY lies on 40 degrees, 39 minutes North, and 73 degrees, 57 minutes West. That means that the opposite side of that axis would exit at 40 degrees, 39 minutes SOUTH, 73 degrees 57 minutes EAST. According to Google Earth AND a desktop globe I happened to see this evening, 12 February 2011, the "exit wound" would be in the extreme SOUTH INDIAN OCEAN. The nearest land mass is Antarctica.

Singing this line, John Linnell states that the hole would be made with a gun. Depending on the gun, the barrel size, the bullet size, the rifling in the gun barrel, and the tumble and spin of the round, and the size of the desktop globe, and how close the end of the gun barrel would be to the Globe, the exit wound could be so small as not to hit any land mass at all, or could be so large as to hit French islands in the South Indian Ocean, Australia or its outlying islands, or Antarctica itself. The bullet could even shatter the entire Globe.

For our purposes, let us assume this is a laser gun, firing a straight line axis through Brooklyn to the Indian Ocean. This is likely not a place where anyone named "Ana Ng," much less anyone else, could live, because Google Earth shows that the "exit wound" lies more than 13,000 feet below sea level. Ana Ng could steer a boat there and possibly live on the boat, but that's about all that can live there except aquatic life. It's in the ocean.

Thanks for listening!

--Richard C. August 23:35, 12 February 2011

in the demo he sings "with a pistol at point blank range", if that helps you with your calculations. : ) -- 23:45, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
as should john flansburgh's statement on the matter: "John looked at a globe and figured out that if Ana Ng is in Vietnam and the person is on the other side of the world, then it must be written by someone in Peru." luckily, vietnam is much more land-based than the middle of the ocean. -Apollo (colloquia!) 18:07, 16 June 2012 (EDT)
only TMBG nerds could interpret the "make a hole with a gun perpendicular" line as anything other than poetic license. 24.205.64.27 22:29, 17 July 2011 (EDT)

The '64 World's Fair[edit | edit source]

Like John Linnel, I was also at the '64 World's Fair, and I was likewise amazed by the sights and sounds. I went twice, coincidentally on the day when the fewest people were there and another time when the most were there, including Bobby Kennedy.

The Disney Pavilion was the home to "It's A Small World After All," which was in the spirit of brotherhood that was quite in vogue at the time. The irony, of course, was that we all were singing this song in our little boats, watching all those dolls, while the US and the USSR were pointing ICBMs at each other, and the end could come at any moment, like when you were in a boat at the '64 World's Fair.

I was a little too young to appreciate the irony, but I was not too old to miss the thrill of seeming to see, and KNOW, the beautiful future that the '64 World's Fair promised all of us. That that future never came to pass is still, to this day some 49 years later, one of the disillusions I have had the most trouble accepting.

68.44.116.248 22:25, 17 May 2013 (EDT)

The Saddest, Most Beautiful Line of the Song...[edit | edit source]

...for me is "They don't need me here and I know you're there." Sad because I knew people like the speaker of the song - people who did not/could not fit in around here in the Northeast, and who thought there was a promised land somewhere, which, of course, they never found.

It's also the best poetry of the song, in the simple way it covers the whole world with "here" and "there" in one single line. It is lines like this, songs like this, that separate John Linnel from just about any contemporary songwriter.

68.44.116.248 22:44, 17 May 2013 (EDT)

Interpretation 41[edit | edit source]

The singer isn't real. Ana Ng is real. The singer is Ana Ng's imaginary soulmate on the other side of the world. The singer repeatedly states "Listen Ana hear my words / They're the ones you would think I would say / If there was a me for you." This whole song is sung by an imaginary soulmate in Ana Ng's head. One that she imagines sat down at a bench in the '64 Worlds Fair just after she got up.

127.0.0.1 12:23, 29 Aug 2014 (CDT)

Link title== Ana, New Guinea == Small Area in Papua New Guinea near Australia, the other side of the world where "Water spirals the wrong way out the sink." (Don't try to find it, it has a red link on Wikipedia.) I have always believed this song was about searching for your soul mate. She exists out there, but you miss each other every chance you get... the warm bench just after the other had left for instance. My all time favorite line is 'I don't want the world I just want your half.' the two soul mates essentially live in opposite worlds where the other 'doesn't exist' hes saying 'I don't want my world, I want to be in your half.'

On wanting the world[edit | edit source]

'I don't want the world, I just want your half.' I see this as a reference to the tendency for people to want what other's have, like the grass always being greener on the other side.