Interpretations:Lost My Mind

From This Might Be A Wiki

Getting old and wondering when you stopped being interesting.[edit]

I'd read this as being about believing your best days of curiosity, intelligence and creativity are behind you, rightly or wrongly.


The pun of the song is simple, as is the moral of the story. The point of interest for me is how scattered the song/singer is, the small ways that the song's unreliable narrator is made to sound like he lost his mind. There are plenty of possible examples of erroneous thought processes vocalized; although a couple of them may not have been intended or are hairsplitting I'm going to list them anyway:

  • "Must've put it in amongst the things for throwing out / Nowhere to be found, probably buried underground / I'd go try to dig it up but..."
The narrator figures he must have accidentally thrown it out. Then he jumps to saying it's probably buried underground, and suddenly his plan of action (if he were to try finding his mind) becomes to go digging for it.
  • "I'd go try to dig it up but I don't want to waste my time/but I just don't have that kind of time"
Probably the main contradiction of the song, besides the mainer contradiction of a person thinking he can't think. His time is useless as a mindless milling vegetable who's preoccupied only with pining for his lost mind, but he doesn't have the mindfulness or care to improve his situation and regain the damn thing. JL's moral? Mind > Time.
  • "To summarize, this whole planet is elliptical / In short, I am both the bag and the boxing glove"
I like these lines. The song starts off with its nice little chorus. Yet by the start of the first verse the singer's already wrapping things up. Like other hypothetical mindless people, the singer leaps to his conclusions about the world and his situation without really putting any thought behind it, never to defend the notion nor ever to challenge it. The "elliptical" thing probably has a double meaning- elliptical first of all means oblique or confounding, employing strange circular logic tilted off its axis (for examples see the the body of work of one John Linnell), and an ellipse is also a two-dimensional shape, implying some obtuse "world is flat" approach to life. Honestly I forget the bag/boxing glove distinction... I googled it a couple months ago, but I forget; I'd go try to look it up but I just don't have that kind of time.
  • "Do you ever even think of me the way I'm always thinking of you / With a glassy-eyed stare knowing somewhere out there it walks the earth..."
First of all, there's the funny notion of him dumbly fantasizing about what his mind is thinking and his mind off somewhere thinking the same thing he is. But more interestingly this sad love letter portion's train goes off the grammatical track. He loses track of which one he's talking about (himself, the I, or his mind, the you) and reverts to saying "it". He then keeps chugging along talking about "it", his mind, and what it's off doing.

And as pretense for this last one, let me say I'm clearly overthinking it, I didn't consider it until just now, and I highly doubt Linnell gave any thought to it. But the interpretation must go on:

  • "Lost my mind / Left somewhere behind"
Due to the casual grammatical shorthand, there are actually a couple ways to fill in the gaps. "[I] lost my mind [and] left [it] somewhere behind." The [I] and [and] I left out are par for the course in casual English, but hey it might be meaningful that, atypical with usual grammatical practice, he lost the direct object (his mind). Less likely is the interpretation "[I] lost my mind[, which was] left somewhere behind" -- less likely just because it's sorta disagreeable to me to say it like that. And even less likely is: "Lost: My mind. Left somewhere behind." This appropriates the use of "left somewhere behind" as a gerund-y phrase better... but at what cost??? Anyway it's most likely by far that there's no intentionally clever way to read it.

And that's about it. The narrator in a (phenomenologically murky) back-and-forth with his mind most immediately recalls 2011's You Probably Get That A Lot, except in this case the model behind the metaphor is a lot clearer, maybe to this song's detriment. Thx for reading. ~ magbatz 15:11, 8 March 2013 (EST)


John Linnell's musing on ageing have been perversely energetic, "Till My head falls off"; beautifully sad, "Hovering Sombrero" and music hall funny, "Older". Lost my mind depressingly is as confused as it's subject matter. An incredibly dense production may be thematically correct in its chaos; but it's not an easy listen. Linnell appears to be doing an impression of someone singing like him and is at his most autopilot.

Likewise the surreal lyrics? Red herrings and filler. The Beatles used to sing about diamond rings when they didn't know what to say, Linnell does the opposite, scared of saying too much he smothers the personal feeling out to the point of autism. Compare the cold nothingness of much of the lyrics to the warmth of Sleep. Come on John! Open up a bit. With re-written lyric and a slower arrangement with a acoustic guitar and the much missed accordion this could have good.

(Mr Tuck)


I usually take tmbg lyrics - well, not literally, but in a straightforward way while understanding there are absurdities there for the comic value, so this one eluded me at first.

The chorus is a truly beautiful piece of sarcasm. Someone asked if he lost his mind, and he answers, Absolutely! My mind is literally not here, it's out having adventures on its own!

The verses are the frustration of dealing with other people, and saying it in an amusing way.

The boxing glove line immediately reminded me of yellow ledbetter by pearl jam. But thats just me, im sure someone else used the analogy before pearl jam too. 11:06, 11 May 2013 (EDT)

Geek culture: The underachiever.[edit]

Many of the songs on the Nanobots album appear to me to be about problems encountered by geeks and this one is one that should speak to the stereotypical TMBW member more than most. The problem that seems to be addressed here is that a lot of geeks are amazingly intelligent but seem unable to focus on one subject long enough to achieve anything. It's about the daydreamer who's mind is "floating down a lazy river", or the lovestruck geek who is constantly wondering if "you ever even think of me", or the depressed geek who sees no point in making any contribution because "this whole planet is elliptical" and we just end up back where we started, or the art school drop out "terrorizing villagers with intelligent remarks" like that douche at the coffee shop. Blackula

Similarities to "Can You Find It?"[edit]

The first thing I noticed upon hearing this song on Nanobots was its chorus' striking similarities to the tune of part of the song Can You Find It? from their 2005 children's album 'Here Come the ABCs'. It's eerily similar, isn't it!

I feel like this was definitely on purpose, as the titles of the two songs somewhat connect. "Lost my mind. Can you find it?"

(I also think there's a tiny bit of similarity to Flying V, but that's probably just me.) Paintspotinfez (talk) 22:33, 4 November 2017 (EDT)

References to other songs[edit]

"Floating down a lazy river is my mind"

The phrase "Lazy river" is probably derived from the Hoagy Carmichael classic "Up the lazy river". [Mills Brothers performance on Youtube]

The delivery of this line is suggestive of the line "Ride a tiger down the river Euphrates" in the Pixies song "River Euphrates", from their album Surfer Rosa. The next track on that album is of course called "Where is my mind?"

(It is known that TMBG are Pixies fans because they did a cover of the Pixies song "Havalina" – not a great choice, but "Wave of mutilation" was already taken.) -- Thread Bomb (talk) 21:59, 24 February 2020 (EST)

The Absurdity of Having Lost One's Mine[edit]

That titles sounds really straightforward. But I think that most They Might Be Giants songs are actually surprisingly straightforward, but absurd. And of course they're absurd; life is absurd!

There's a lot of phrases in any language that often don't make sense without context. But even with context they don't make sense if you think about it. You hear people saying someone lost their minds fairly regularly when someone does even something slightly out of character, kind of dumb, or making a huge mistake (on accident of course). And very often we'd describe ourselves as having lost our minds for a moment when we do such a thing.

This song sounds like it's about a person who's air-headed and doing dumb things and is consciously aware of it (hence saying 'I lost my mind'). Painfully aware of it, in fact, as is implied when he says "In short, I am both the bag and the boxing glove". He deals the punches and takes them when he's thrown them, feeling like a fool. And as another pointed out, it's incredibly scatterbrained to be summarizing now when the song barely started.

The phrasing "Terrorizing villages/With intelligent remarks" makes me think they have a terrible case of opening their mouth without thinking; what they think is intelligence is often proven to be something that terrorizes others. This is someone who isn't in control of their mind, because they lost it.

But there's the real trick. This song isn't completely about being scatterbrained, or having the tendency to say things they don't mean to say. It's about the absurdity of the whole situation. It's nonsense that his mind could be as tossed as easily as that letter from your grandpa that's the only thing you have to remember him by but look like just a normal envelope because you aren't thinking. But just like that letter, one can lose track of their mind.

One can't lose their mind. A person has their mind and their whole thoughts right there behind their eyeballs. And yet, despite this, people still somehow lose their minds. From just being scatterbrained to being mentally ill to any number of issues, a person can not have total control of what they're doing because it's hard to think. It's hard to think about the things you're thinking about. It hurts to watch it in others, it hurts more to be the one being mindless and not being able to do anything about it because that mindlessness is there, part of you. Because that's just absurd. And it can be sad to be so absurd. 13:23, 12 October 2020 (EDT)