Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
From This Might Be A Wiki
|song name||Istanbul (Not Constantinople)|
|artist||They Might Be Giants|
|releases||Flood, Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (EP), Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants, A User's Guide To They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity, Rhino Hi-Five: They Might Be Giants, Flood + Apollo 18|
|first played||March 28, 1988 (1129 known performances)|
|sung by||John Flansburgh, John Linnell|
- Lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, music by Nat Simon. Originally popularized in 1953 by The Four Lads.
- John Flansburgh (Lumino Magazine interview, 2005):
When we were recording the Flood album, we had bought these Casio FD-1 samplers. I basically spent a couple of weeks in my house recording every single thing I could figure out how to record and playing it back on the keyboard. And so all these things that you hear on Istanbul are samples, except for the violin solo at the beginning and the trumpet in the middle. The thing that sounds like an accordion is actually a melodica that's been sampled. In the 'Even old New York' part, it's a Coke bottle being blown into a chord. The song's got a very unusual texture.
- In a communication to the They Might Be Giants Instant Fan Club, the band commented "We actually worked up this song from memory, and when putting the recording together made a point of not listening to the original."
- John Flansburgh (Rolling Stone Flood interview, 2009):
This song I knew from my childhood, and we learned it simply to have more songs in our repertoire. It was in the show for a couple of years, and John and I would perform without the drum machine. It had a very spaced out middle section where we would basically yodel into an echo effect and it all went very, very trippy. It always got a good response, and when we got our fancy Casio FZ-1 samplers, this track was one of the things we put together to test it out.
- During live performances, Dan Miller almost always plays a long, improvisational, acoustic guitar intro before the full song kicks in.
- Two videos were made for this song:
- Official music video - Features stop-motion animated papier-mâché sculptures by Mark Marek and hand-drawn animation by J. Otto Seibold. This version appeared at The Angelika Film Center Jan. 18, 1991 in a film fest about recent animations. The New York Times reporter called it "inane Fluff."
- Tiny Toon Adventures video - The Tiny Toons video is partly a spoof of the 1964 movie, Topkapi (starring Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell, and Peter Ustinov). The movie is about a petty con guy enlisted by international jewel thieves to steal a dagger with a huge emerald in the hilt, from the Topkapi Palace museum in Istanbul (dagger replaced by an emerald Plucky Duck in the video).
- Featured in:
- The Simpsons episode - "Mobile Homer," first aired March 20, 2005.
- The Secret Life of the American Teenager episode - "Just Say Me", first aired January 25, 2010.
- Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3 for the Xbox - The version of the song featured has been shortened to 1:40.
- Raising Hope featured the Four Lads version and the TMBG version, both of which the grandmother played Jenga to, in the episode "Dream Hoarders" which aired October 5, 2010.
- Bunheads featured the song in episode 6, "Movie Truck", which aired July 23, 2012.
- Just Dance 4 includes the song as a playable track.
- Watch it on
- Tonight Show performance, April 3rd, 1990. Watch it on
- Tiny Toons music video. Watch it on
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Istanbul (Not Constantinople) is currently ranked #307 out of 833. (131 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.41)