Interpretations:Cloisonné

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How does Flansy do it?[edit | edit source]

This is one of the most weirdest and most random song by TMBG. I can't make any sense out of it. I think it's just a huge game of word association. And I love it. -- Jason DeLima - ! - 02:03, 28 April 2011 (UTC)


You don't have your Mink Car yet.[edit | edit source]

Sleestaks are your parents. The raindrops are your tears. Your friend in law enforcement is music that will end it and make her go insane. Mind your business, you'll get it eventually.


No real interpretation, but...[edit | edit source]

... does anyone else think this is a dark song? Mind your business, don't call the cops, and for the love of god keep your voice down.

I've yet to decide if it's "daddy beats the kids" dark or Steely Dan's "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" creepy. Hermano 18:49, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Or drugs dark.
Yeah, I thought about that as well. Maybe our hero crawled out of the Mayor's trunk and moved his meth lab home Hermano 18:49, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more I think the meth lab interpretation makes sense. It's a never-shut business, isolated in its own building. His craft (making drugs) is exploding (as meth labs tend to do), leaving him choking on dust and blinding his pets. Don't call the cops. He was interrogated and his sweating/tears gave him away.
What interest me most are the sleestaks. Breathing on his dice, giving him backrubs, and conversatin' when he's concentratin' all sound like stereotypical airheaded female behavior, and he's sick of it. Yet a sleestak is his "heart attack towel rack fallback". Is that perhaps his secret plan to retire to an ordinary married life once being an outlaw gets too stressful? Or am I going way too far out on a limb here? User:rosefox 01:32, 29 September 2011 (EDT)

Just an idea...[edit | edit source]

I think the narrator is paranoid and out of his mind from cooking meth. Strange, I know. Here's why I'm leaning that way:

"My craft is exploding" - I think this is a clever double meaning. Both popular and "kaboom". "with my three blind cats" - Blindness is common among those who cook meth "don't go calling law enforcement" - obvious

Errata:

"Got so busy explaining, now it's just raining pain" - I think this is a weird way to explain that the guy is crying. "raindrops made of pain" = tears.

Now where in the world Sleestaks come into the picture, I have NO idea. All of this could be totally wrong as well. Who knows. All I know is that I feel like they are going back to some of truly fun/weird/wonderful things from Lincoln and before. Way to go guys!


Sleestak look like this: http://atomicgator.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/sleestak.jpgwith hugely dilated pupils. 'Sleestak weed' also has a few hiys on google if that's any cure. The narrator might be making an analogy with making cloisonne and drugs? Also don't forget, heroine withdrawl is very painful as it replaces your bodies natural analgesic whilst it's in your system 80.42.235.22 10:09, 20 September 2011 (EDT)

I like the paranoid meth cooker explanation. And therefore I like to think this is about the show Breaking Bad which features a terminally ill high school chemistry professor who starts cooking meth to make money for his family. I agree with these interpretations. I think raining pain is the shrapnel and chemicals after a meth lab explosion. WWW


Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects,[edit | edit source]

Which I think we all knew right? Really struggled with what this is about other than it being about a craftsman. But who cares, because this is Flans at his best. Very left field, it's very first album in feel, with it's odd structure. In terms of the actual sound (the horns) it would happily sit on the John Henry album. If it could be improved well, I'd of liked Linnell to sing the back up "I don't want to tell em mister"; other than that, it's very strong and I think it'll be great to hear live. They Might be Giants at their brilliant best. (Mr Tuck)


Yes, it's about a craftsman - John Flansburgh. The 'craft' is songwriting and in this particular case, a song with a devilishly complex rhythm, echoing the complexity of a piece of cloisonne. There's a tetchiness in the tone of the song which, I think, is about the frustration and tenseness involved in trying to keep hold of those fleeting moments of inspiration in the face of personal and urban distractions and the irritation of the artist having to explain himself to musical muggles. (CraneWife)

Spousal Abuse?[edit | edit source]

For some reason when I listen to this song I imagine it's an abusive husband singing to his wife he beats. Maybe it's all the "keep your voice downs" and "you have a friend in law enforcement/don't go calling law enforcement" lines.


As for me,[edit | edit source]

I think this song is about a guy who has become so intoxicated that he is hallucinating. He was out with a friend, and the lyrics in the song are directed to the aforementioned friend. In the beginning, the singer and friend are having a good time until the singer starts hallucinating. The singer is telling his friend not to call the police, because with this level of intoxication, he could get arrested. The friend takes it upon himself to take the singer to a hospital, and on their way, the singer explains to his friend how he is feeling.

Whilst doing so, it starts raining heavily and the sound of the rain is pain to the singer. The singer then proceeds to tell the rain to tell the friend how the singer is feeling. The friend then expresses concern for the singer, prompting the singer to command the friend and the rain to keep their voices (window shakin' being the rain because its so heavy it seems to shake the window, and godforsaken being the friend's) down. The singer then complains about his situation, while still hallucinating (hence the reference to the sleestaks). The singer tries to concentrate on other things to forget about the pain, but the friend keeps chiming in with comments, breaking the singer's concentration.

As they get to the hospital, the singer tries to make some sense of what he had been saying, but to no avail. As they enter the ER, they find out that the doctors had just ended shifts and the new doctors haven't arrived yet. The singer then asks the nurse or other hospital staff member to not call the police, and then saying something completely random, which happens to be 'cloisonné'.


Just my little interpretation of it.-- General Fan

Organized Crime Interpretation[edit | edit source]

I think this is about some form of organized crime. 'Mind your business' he tells a civilian. The job he does it not to be discussed (like selling WWI shelters) but it's also an art "It's like I'm selling 'cloisonné'" They have an informant in the police or the person is in fact part of a police unit. He's tired of talking so he starts beating the other person. I think we can all agree "pain rain" = tears. He's trying to get information and hopes to beat it out of the person. But be quiet he reminds the victim, no one must know he's torturing you for information.

Then there is a turning point where the interrogator admits he's tired of this bullshit, the second story sleestaks (A lizard person from land of the lost) pulling strings for him. I feel this could be interpreted as some snake that's above the person in rank, hence the second-story lizard reference. The victim understands and starts talking a bit but then informs the abuser that he is in fact one of his superiors or "sleestaks" The abuser is later killed by the victim or an associate and makes it look like a heart attack as he falls onto the towel rack, breaks it, and falls backwards. He cannot call 911 for some reason. Perhaps due to additional measures against him to make sure he does not live. Armicron 17:59, 6 July 2011 (EDT)


Just FYI, he says making cloisonne, not selling it, so that part of the song doesn't mean selling a story. user 05:00, 23 August 2011 (EDT)

A Song About Prison Escape[edit | edit source]

My first interpretation. Obviously the main character is insane... You know how some people imagine they're gods or Method actors take on a persona of a character and it goes too far. I feel like he's in a prison cell with 3 others (which would account for the 1, 2, 3, 4 and the 3 blind cats). I think he is making something to help him escape but doesn't want the others finding out and telling the guards on him. He relates making his escape mechanism to making Cloisonne. While he's busy, one of the other cellmates tries to turn him in (this cellmate has a rain drop tattoo, so the narrator refers to him as "rain drop") and threatens him to keep quiet (the whole "tell 'em" and "I don't wanna tell 'em" thing). One of the other cellmates is trying to do him favors so he can join in the escape. The third cellmate keeps interrupting his process. Being annoyed with all three of them, he pictures them as Sleestaks and kills them with the towel rack. The final "Cloisonne" of the song is I guess the detonation of his escape mechanism. -Kertchaf


Sleestaks are key to the song[edit | edit source]

The narrator asks "what's a sleestak?" as if it's important to know that. I get that they're an alien from an old TV show, but I wonder what about them is significant? They were telepaths. Could that be it? The narrator thinks other people can read his mind, which would be bad, since he needs his victim to "mind his business," "keep his godforsaken voice down," "don't go callin law-enforcement" etc? Other than the lyrics, the instruments in the song are all ominous, especially the horns, which are played throughout the song (strangling? especially the short horn at the beginning).

While I don't doubt that 'sleestaks' is a reference to Land of the Lost, it's also interesting to note that the term 'sleestak' is sometimes used in reference to a skanky girl, someone one might hook up with but not show off to their friends. Possibly someone you're garden variety meth cook might shack up with. --Chiasmus

The "new business" is a front for the mafia[edit | edit source]

In the beginning of the song the narrator is excited because his new business is going great, it can "never shut" because its being funded by the mafia. Cloisonne involves separating a piece into compartments (cloison is french for compartment), and the narrator thinks that he can keep his new business opportunity compartmentalized and separate from his personal life. Then one of his friends calls a friend in law enforcement, the cops start investigating him, he says something to them that he shouldn't, and because he talked the mob tortures him ("got too busy explaining, now it's just raining pain"). The "I don't wanna tell him mister" lines are sung in that weird voice because it's the mob coaching the narrator on what to say the next time the cops start questioning him. He starts to break down as he realizes what a terrible decision it was to get in bed with the mafia, and gets "sick of this beeswax." I'm not sure what the sleestacks are.





The Neighbours[edit | edit source]

I think it's about an old coot who keeps yelling at his neighbour, a young, nerdy guy, to keep it down. The old man is making a birdhouse, and the noise from his neighbour distracts him so he breaks his craft, and then goes to the window and yells at the kid to keep it down. The boy calls the man a "Sleestak", and the old man, confused, asks the kid what it is. The kid responds, and very fed up, the old man yells that he's going to call the police. The rain drop part, is when the old man's wife comes over, and asks her husband what's happening, and he tells the boy to explain it. They may be in the same apartment building, both on the balcony, which is why the boy calls the man a "second-storey" Sleestak.



With the references to dice, back rubs, and concentrating I thnk this could be a song about card counting.


Oh Man some of these interpretations must make TMBG laugh their socks off![edit | edit source]

Really, Wow! Ever thought John was just putting random word associations/stream of conscienceness thoughts to the music which is really what they are about? Not all their songs might be deep and meaningful, they might just be having fun playing with the music that they love.

but that's why this is an interpretations page, dude. expressing ourselves!

This is all really too much...[edit | edit source]

I'm of the opinion that it's a shout-out to geeks. There are a lot of geek culture references here.

I'm sick of these second-story Sleestaks/Breathing on my dice Sleestaks are a race from a sci-fi show, and anyone who has done tabletop/pen and paper roleplaying knows there's always someone who is hypersensitive about their dice.

Towel rack/Fallback Do you know where your towel is?(Hitchhiker's Guide reference)

You got no doctors/All your doctors have gone home Doctor Who?

That's my impression. It's about gamer geeks doing their thing.

  • The "Breathing on Dice" is a Craps thing (as in the dice gambling game, not the other thing) - a pretty lady blows on the dice for luck. I think Flansy is just telling his wife that he hates her Sleestak impersonation. ChaosS (talk) 18:14, 13 September 2013 (EDT)

Another crime-related interpretation[edit | edit source]

I personally think that this song is about an older, more experienced criminal scolding his incompetent accomplice. He says his craft is exploding, making me think that either he's a terrorist or he's breaking out of prison. He refers to how his profession, like I said earlier, is exploding, and that it is like making cloisonne, something that requires a lot of expertise and concentration. The accomplice keeps breaking his concentration and making noise, hence the 'keep your voice down' parts and the 'when I'm deep in concentration you start getting all conversating' part. When he tries to explain to the accomplice that he's not performing his job properly, the accomplice starts to cry. The accomplice often resorts to flattery, referred to as backrubs, and uses his fallback, his cover story, too early. This is just my opinion, and I probably worded it badly, but I think it makes sense.

--174.61.233.236 16:12, 16 December 2012 (EST)

Meth Lab Theory[edit | edit source]

Yes, the meth lab theory applies hence "three blind cats" and choking on my dust" and meth explodes when being made, like the said craft in "Cloisonné". The raindrops of pain are tears, and a form of paranoia. The protagonist is most likely hallucinating, because no normal status person would hallucinate a talking raindrop of pain. "keep your voice down" is the protaginist telling the raindrop to keep its "window shakin' godforsaken voice down" and not to tell anyone that he is making meth. Sleestak is the girl who knows that he is making meth, probably literally giving him back rubs, that the protagonist is trying to impress. "you have a friend in law inforcement don't go call in' law inforcement" is don't tell the cops that I'm making meth. "Heart attack towel rack fallback" is the protagonist getting punished for making meth and getting a heart attack, then falling on the towel rack. "all your doctors have gone home" The protagonist's sleestak that knows is in the hospital and tells her that she has no doctors and that "all her doctors have gone home". "What is a sleestak is telling the listener that the protagonist doesn't even know what a sleestak is! The sleestak is females, because who else would "breath on his dice" and "give him backrubs" and be "conversatin' while he's concintratin'?) Saskia16 (talk) 19:44, 5 December 2016 (EST)Saskia16