Interpretations:Fingertips

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Everything Is Catching On Fire - The moment of conception, sperm meets egg, magic happens.

Fingertips (banjo) - The first sensation after birth: fingertips.

I Hear The Wind Blow - The baby hears its first sounds.

Hey Now Everybody - General confusion after birth. "It's a boy, Mrs. Walker!"

Who's That Standin' Out The Window - Everybody wants to see the new baby. "Awww... he sneezed!"

I've Found A New Friend Underneath My Pillow - Unclear, perhaps the kid has an imaginary friend? (Perhaps a reference to learning about the Tooth Fairy, and thus the whole magicalism of youth.

Come On And Wreck My Car - Youth, the kid smashes toy cars into wall, trying to act tough.

Aren't You The Guy Who Hit Me In The Eye? - People got sick of the stupid kid and his toughness, decide to teach him a lesson.

Please Pass The Milk - The kid learns manners, stupid kid.

Leave Me Alone - The kid is having a bad day, sod off.

Who's Knockin' On The Wall - The kid has monsters in his closet, oh no.

All Alone, All By Myself - Teenage angst.

What's That Blue Thing Doing Here? - Combolations, idiot, you went and got some chick pregnant, or got pregnant. (The blue of a positive pregnancy test)

Something Grabbed Ahold Of My Hand - The kid does the right thing(Or is forced into doing the right thing): marriage.

I Don't Understand You - The marriage is rather... unhappy.

I Heard A Sound - The guy goes senile and paranoid. "Is there anybody out there?"

Mysterious Whisper - The guy is now mentally unstable, he's hearing voices.

The Day Love Came To Play - The bloody pervert: he cheats on his spouse.

I'm Havin' A Heart Attack - A heart attack.

Fingertips (whispered) - The last sensation, fingertips trying to revive him.

I Walk Along Darkened Corridors - Some kind of afterlife.

Note: This was adapted from here


This song is about touching things.




I agree in part with the first interp.

It is indeed a summation of someone's life but the first vignette is the end of someone else's life ("everything is catching on fire") and the last vignette is the beginning of someone else's ("walk along darkened corridors").

The middle person's life is seen in full and is bookended by the "fingertips" on either end, a method use by Beckett

The structure:

Person A's death ("everything is catching on fire")

Person B's birth (First "fingertips")

Person B's life ("I hear the wind blow" through "the day that love came to play")

Person B's death ("I'm having a heart attack")

Person C's birth (second "fingertips")

Person C's first life experience ("I walk along darkened")

The middle is the story of one person's life told through the his/her most significant moments. What exactly the vignette are referring to, only the speaker knows. The specifics (the whole story) are only significant to "Person B", we are only seeing the tiny remains. The only two things connecting each person, is that each of them received a birth, a "fingertips" if you will, and that each of the people must end and make room for the next life.

To paraphrase some Macbeth: Every player struts and frets his hour on the stage and then nothing, a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.

My Opinon: The main thrust of the song, I believe, is the brevity of life and how we have come to judge the life of others. We look back on the most significant parts and fail to see the good stuff that falls between. We forget those tiny battles.

Or maybe we hold on to those small things a little to tightly. Our lives are lived to tighten our grip on our small realities instead of the larger ones.

But I am probably projecting what I want at this point.


I always thought they were just trying to mimic a bunch of different artists that have had an influence on their songs.


I just thought it was a representation of "fingertips" rolling through the dial of a radio. You get different types of music, some talk, etc.


I agree with the post above, they're just little pieces of music played together. They've even said that they weren't always in that order. Plus, most of those "interpretations" in the first post are really pushing it.


Well... even if it does all mean something, I still kinda like to think it's all just random short songs. It makes it funnier too.


Considering they included "Fingertips" in Podcast 2A, which supposedly has a "show business" theme, I think it may just be like flipping through the television channels. Fingerips are what you use to press the button on the remote control, hence the title.


Has anyone else noticed that "Fingertips" rhymes with "acid trips"? - Tzion (9/2/2006)


I think that the fingertips are pressing buttons flipping through the radio stations. By the looks of the length of the other interpretations, that was definitely less than two cents. User:Stupak


When I listen to this I always imagine flipping through random, stupid TV stations looking for something to watch. I love how it's just made up of all these silly little things that aren't good enough ideas to warrant a whole song but in 10-20 second sound bytes are hilarious.


Do They always play this song in the same order during shows? I mean, it says in the liner notes that Apollo 18 should be played on Randome Play... so shouldn't They mix up the order of Fingertips? With 21 different parts of the song, there are over 510,909,000,000,000,000,000 different orders they could be played in. They should get started on those. 06:12, 25 July 2007 (UTC)


Whenever I hear this song, I think of Dissociative Identity Disorder... set to music. - Ms Fernandez, 18 Dec 2007


Well, TMBG is famous for those insane what-the-crap-is-this-supposed-to-be? songs, so it's hard to tell if it's actually supposed to have interpretations that are what they mean or if it's(they're) supposed to be those nonsense song(s), but even if it isn't, I don't know what to make of it. In my opinion, the songs have a different meaning for each, instead of being all connected to do/mean something. But I really think that the song 'Fingertips' is about... um... I have absolutely no clue at all.


I thought it was like trying to do every genre of music in one song, which does make sense in a way as most styles od music are there in some form or another. However I'm pretty convinced that its about life after reading this. However it could be....just a song.


I've seen Fingertips as a song about paranoia. Indeed its structure, jumping from segment to segment, to me reflects the irrational thought processes of a paranoid person.

Everything is catching, yes Everything is catching on fire (Everything's catching on) Yeah (fire) (Everything is catching on fire)

Paranoia consumes you like a fire.

Fingertips Fingertips Fingertips

A paranoid person sometimes might hear something in the breeze, and think it is something else. They may think they are hearing soft fingertips and that there is someone near them or following them.

I hear the wind blow I hear the wind blow It seems to say, "Hello, hello I'm the one who loves you so."

The man, all alone, starts to hear things that aren't really there.

Hey now everybody now Hey now everybody Hey now everybody now

I put more stock in the delivery than the content here, and it was dizzying, irrational.

Who's that standing out my window?

Either seeing someone out there and immediately being alarmed or seeing someone not there at all.

I found a new friend underneath my pillow

Not entirely sure. I love this line though. Irrational, like the thoughts of a frantic paranoid

A come on (come on) and wreck my car A come on (come on) and wreck my car A come on (come on) and wreck my car A come on (come on) and wreck my car

More pandemonium. More hysteria.

Aren't you the guy who hit me in the eye? Aren't you the guy who hit me in the eye?

Mistaking a random person for a threat.

Please pass the milk, please Please pass the milk, please Please pass the milk, please

More irrationality.

Leave me alone Leave me alone

Paranoid man wants to be left alone.

Who's knockin' on the wall?

Again hearing a sound (or thinking he heard a sound) and becoming alarmed

All alone, all alone All by myself

He is alone. He is both wanting to be away from people and feeling alone and vulnerable to the noises around him.

What's that blue thing doing here?

More irrationality, but also more of being alarmed by a harmless thing.

Something grabbed a hold of my hand I didn't know what had my hand But that's when all my troubles began

His hand brushes against something and his first reaction is that someone is grabbing him and that's where all his troubles began.

I don't understand you (I don't understand you) I just don't understand you (I don't understand you) I don't understand the things you say I can't understand a single word

I don't understand you (I don't understand you) I just don't understand you (I don't understand you) I cannot understand you (I don't understand you) I don't understand you (I don't understand you)

He doesn't understand what's going on around him.

I heard a sound I turned around I turned around to find the thing that made the sound

He hears a sound and it alarms him.

Mysterious whisper Mysterious whisper Mysterious whisper Mysterious whisper

He hears a mysterious whisper, and it alarms him.

The day that love came to play

More irrationality.

I'm having a heart attack I'm having a heart attack I'm having a heart attack I'm having a heart attack

He's frakkin stressed out from paranoia.

Fingertips Fingertips

A reminder of the simple sound that started all this.

I walk along darkened corridors And I walk along darkened corridors I walk along darkened corridors And I walk along darkened corridors

Because is paranoid and doesn't trust anyone he meets, he is doomed to walk along a bleak darkened corridor on his own.

Not everything in the song amounts to paranoia, but a lot of things to and to me that just what I think of on the keystone sections. And I really see a strong emphasis on the effect that sounds have a person, which leads me to paranoia.


They said in an interview that they were making fun of those commercials for compilations CDs where the names of the songs scroll down the screen and little snippets of certain songs play. You know those commercials?


Deaf/blind[edit | edit source]

IS it possible the song is about (or we can make it about) someone who si deaf-blind, and only knows the world through their fingertips, or what they hear?


The Petula Clark send up is funniest snippet in song[edit | edit source]

Too deep! I tend to think "Fingertips" is a reference to your fingertips operating an FM radio dial back in the 1970's, because the song snippets reflect exactly what it was like to scroll across the dial back then, even with a couple of 1980's jingles thrown in. Plus, John is singing the song's title over a banjo lick (one which reminds me very much of early Steve Martin who played banjo famously during the 1970's). You play a banjo lick with what - your fingertips. So the birth/death/snotty artiste allusions... for me ring "nah". If you want "deep", try the two Johns' "They Got Lost".

There's not much I can do to interpret the song bits, because I don't think they were intended for interpretation but more rather "ha ha" and "good lord they nailed that lampoon of artist XYZ", so here are my ha ha's and good lords.

"Everything Is Catching On Fire" - a spoof of pretentious REM/other Athens 1980's rock, and boy did that genre deserve it.

"Fingertips" - song title card and both an indication of what the song is about (fingertips manipulating a radio dial) and a nod to Steve Martin and his banjo, which required fingertips - my personal opinion, anyway.

"I Hear The Wind Blow" - nostalgic 1940's camp pop, usually sung by male former movie stars of that era, and found in album covers depicting the male star in question wearing a cardigan sweater and smoking a pipe. Bob from the Subgenius Church, basically. This genre later returned as 1950's children's music, which nails the two Johns just about totally.

"Hey Now Everybody" - girl rock. I'm a girl and I still think all girl rock, no matter how "tuff" it tries to sound, ALWAYS comes off sounding like this.

"Window" - overwrought Stax/Volt R&B, circa 1960-1969.

"New Friend" - a touch of Phil Spector.

"Crash My Car" - a nasty send up of an early Beach Boys genre of "come admire and ride around in my fast souped up car" pop pablum from the Sixties.

"Are You The Guy" - wiseguy 1940's film noir.

"Pass The Milk" - a spoof of the 1950's commercial jingle, which saw a brief stylistic reprise during the 1970's?

"Leave Me Alone" - Meatloaf?

"Who's Knocking On The Wall" - 1950's cowboy whistler songs.

"All Alone And All By Myself" - sunny hippie pop.

"What's That Blue Thing Doing Here?" - unknown, but I'm thinking gigantic overdone stadium pop like Tom Jones and Neil Diamond.

"But That's When All My Troubles Began" - Petula Clark without a doubt.

"I Just Don't Understand You" - early Depeche Mode is my guess. Just kind of a send up of that entire angst-ridden, existentialist new wave era and its Sprockets/Dieter-style lyrics. I can almost visualize Martin Gore and Dave Gahan pacing a black and white "Nosferatu"-looking set to this snippet...

"I'm Having A Heartattack" has got to be a spoof of James Taylor. Nothing else works. If you see it as that, it's fantastic.

I may have missed something and might not be in order, but that's my take on it. Hilarious, HILARIOUS freakin' song.

Especially the Petula one.

"That's When All My Troubles Began" may be a send up of Petula Clark and that entire Brit Waif Girl era of Sixties pop - but it's bar none the funniest segment of "Fingertips", at least to me. Years after first hearing "Fingertips", and after and I am not kidding about ten thousand times listening to it, "Troubles" still gets me convulsing with laughter and tears rolling down my face every single time. I was up listening to it last night and - no lie - must have laid laughing in bed FOR HOURS.


Sense[edit | edit source]

I think it's a song sort of praising the miracle of sense, because all the songs seem to deal with sensations. Though I must say, I always jump when I hear 'MYSTEEEEEEERIOUS WHISPEEER', and am not sure what that contrast is about. Maybe just to be funny.


Have you ever been sitting down and created a little song just drumming your fingertips on a desk? I think that's sort of what is going on here. In the humdrum of some boring day you start cranking out some rockin' short and sweet tunes (aka ridiculous music) just drumming along with your fingers, and that's what the Johns captured.


The Adventures of Matt[edit | edit source]

Everything is Catching on Fire - Average Matt's house burns down

Fingertips - All that's left is a misterious box of fingertips he didn't know he had

I hear the Windblow - The wind suddenly carries the fingertips off

Hey Now Everybody - Can anyone spare a quarter?

Who's That Standing Out The Window? - Says the resturant owner as Matt walks up to it. He goes in and gets a job along with a room (well, closet, actually).

I Found a New Friend Underneath My Pillow - Matt finds a rat under his pillow. He kills it.

Come on and Wreck my car - After working for five months, Matt buys a used car. On his way back, he gets in a car wreck.

Aren't You the Guy Who Hit Me in the Eye - Gets in a fight

Please Pass the Milk - Has dinner with a girl he met. Goes OK.

Leave me Alone - Girl gets real clinggy. Matt dumps her.

Who's Knocking on the Wall - Rats in the wall

All Alone, All By Myself - Matt starts to regret dumping her.

What's that Blue thing Doing here - Blue man Group stops by for some food

Something Grabbed Hold Of My Hand - gets Mugged

I Don't Understand You - Matt goes insane, and thinks everybody is speaking gibberish, and eventualy mentaly deaf

I Heard a Sound - Hears a sound for the first time in a week.

Mysterious Wisper - Follows the sound, a mysterious wisper

The Day that Love Came To play - Starts to rember that girl he dumped, again

I'm Having a Heart Attack - Matt Has a heart attack

Fingertips - Matt's last dream is of the box 0f Fingertips

I Walk Along Darkened Corridors - Matt Dies MidnightCrisis 21:51, 14 March 2012 (EDT)


Life[edit | edit source]

I do agree about it being about life, but in the nostalgic sort of way. You have all these experiences during life, that when you look back at them, they're jumbled up with everything else. (You remember a fire, an important aspect, but you remember something useless like breakfast one morning). They're always so short, but they have a story. They're shuffled through our life, similar to how they shuffle on a CD player with the rest of the album. Some of the smallest and scariest and fondest memories are a few seconds of a first kiss or a loved one dying. 174.26.58.192 12:54, 16 February 2013 (EST)

As a whole Fingertips could be about anything or nothing, but it always puts me in a downer mood. There's a lot of loneliness and paranoia in there, a feeling that this life is questions without answers, unidentifiable noises and shadows, unintelligible communication by strangers, random acts of violence, and barely hanging on to sanity. By the end of the sequence I often find myself spiritually exhausted and ready for some reassurance... but the wordless song that follows it on Apollo 18 -- Space Suit -- just serves to reinforce (intentionally or not) the mood of distance and mystery. I always felt something similar at the end of the Abbey Road white noise epic "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", but in those vinyl days one would just flip it over to "Here Comes the Sun" and everything would be alright again. --Nehushtan (talk) 21:55, 29 November 2013 (EST)