Interpretations:Theme From Flood
After reading several of the interpretations of this album's songs (on this site and elsewhere), I can't help but wonder if, like 'John Henry,' the title of this album might reflect a theme. 'FLOOD' could easily be an allusion to the Biblical deluvian myth (that has its roots in other religious traditions), and indicate a theme on the frequent connections between violence/oppression and religion (I myself am religious, but not myopic enough to pretend that the history of western - and all - religion has not been heavily touched by man's lusts for power and violence). Maybe not so specific a theme as that, but this album does contain an awful lot of religious allusions. Some notes:
- The album's title alludes to God's genocide of the human race for falling out of line (the Noah Flood story, one derived from other religous/mythic traditions)
- Birdhouse in Your Soul, while superficially a very literalistic song, is peppered with religious references to guardian angels and souls. The 'simple message' of 'L-I-T-E' could reflect a Religious or Enlightenment notion of light as sophia/wisdom. (Personally, the blue canary night light has always reminded me of those kitschy Virgin Mary night lights they sell)
- Istanbul/Not Constantinople is a conspicuous choice of a cover song. A silly, superficial song, but one that has, at its core, a HUGE, VIOLENT religious war, and the geopolitical fall-out from it (Istanbul was Constantinople).
- Dead discusses death, reincarnation, and a rather medieval-sounding execution.
- One of the most recurring and explored interpretations of Particle Man is one discussing the relationship between (fundamentalist) religion, science, humanity, and the nature of the universe. Again, Triangle man, the religious aspect, is the violent figure. Universe Man is either a benign, impersonal universe, or perhaps a benevolent personal God, who is kinder to the smaller man, despite the behavior of Triangle Man (this might tie in more with the implications of the 'personal enlightenment' reading of Birdhouse).
- We Want a Rock is most evidently a castigation against faddiness, but maybe in light of the other allusions, could also be warning against 'faddy' or 'mindless' fundamentalism (again, favoring Birdhouse's personal enlightenment).
- Whistling in the Dark's celebration of ignorance as bliss, particularly when others try to enlighten you with 'Wrong ideas that appeal to you.' (Also, later in the song, someone attempts to throw the first stone at the narrator, who eventually 'stones' himself.) This song could be ironically celebrating the narrator's happy darkness, illustrating that, while there are swindlers out there, you'll seem just as foolish as them if you shut out all sources of enlightenment and shut yourself in the darkness.
- Hot Cha is very frequently cited as a colorful description of the death(s) and return(s) of Jesus Christ. 'Drink and cook the prodigal son' sounds downright Eucharistic...
- Women and Men - 'Be fruitful and multiply.' (All right, maybe a bit of a stretch)
- Road Movie to Berlin alludes to aspects of the Christian notion of the kingdom of heaven (as well as folkloric and cartoony supplements to that notion), with St. Peter present at the gates and so on. There's also a mention of the King of Liars, made a proper noun, likely an allusion to the Devil/Nemesis that crops up in scripture and folklore.
Other Wiki people, feel free to flesh this out, or shoot it full of holes. It seems like a pretty fruitful/interesting perspective on the album, but I haven't had the time to thoroughly comb through it, and it might just be idle jibjab...
This is just a little pointless note that countless other people probably have noticed, but, I personally find it amusing how it seems as if all of this stuff is happening because Flood was released. "Why is the world in love again?" It asks all the questions, and then announces Flood. It sounds like it could be a radio ad spot or something, and, I find it to be an infinetely amusing opening - Anonymous
what i noticed is that in the dvd gigantic they note how flood has so many songs. its sort of how this song is introducing this flood, but its a good flood, hence they are happy, in love, holding hands, because this flood is a flood of music. - bort
I've always been unimpressed by the overuse of the phrase 'brand new' in the last two lines of the song; even though They Might be Giants affect an air of cleverness, they're just musicians after all. - Ashley Pomeroy
I think that's the whole point - it's meant to be ironic.
--It seems a bit trite and obvious to mention it, but: "Why are the ocean levels rising up? It's a brand new record for 1990..." Can't anyone else remember the first warnings about the effects of global warming? That's what I always understood that line. (Anony Mouse :8> )
I think what this song is trying to say is that there will be many people in 1990 who will see politicians and various other important peoples band together and make a big fuss about things, and also notice that there are environmental problems with the Earth and people becoming aware of it in the news and other bits of various media, but will not have pieced the two together. BUT DON'T WORRY! They Might Be Giants are here to make everything good again.
This may be a comment on the short attention span of the public, going from these major events in the news and then just a new album.