A User's Guide To They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity

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A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity tmbg compilation cover
A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity
Collection by They Might Be Giants
First released May 3, 2005
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 29
Label Rhino Length 70:31

Back cover artwork


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John Flansburgh on User's Guide (from the April 29, 2005 newsletter):

Rhino is releasing the single disc compilation A User's Guide To They Might Be Giants - kind of a simple reduction of Dial-A-Song - on May 3. It is a very interesting introduction to the band. If you were looking for a single disc to lay on the uninitiated, this might be the one. The liner notes, put together with our pal Barbara Glauber, are quite extensive. We've tried to compile all the songs and all the shows since the band's inception. Obviously this was a bit of a research nightmare (I'm not even sure if the show list includes in-stores!) but it is a very interesting object to look at, especially if you have good near-field vision.

As illustrated on the back cover, the song sequence is determined by runtime, explaining the unorthodox tracklist. It starts with Minimum Wage (0:46), and each song is progressively longer until The Guitar (3:49) before working back down to Spider (0:51).

The liner notes contain a listing of every show TMBG played since 1985 up until the album's release, compiled by the band. A timeline of events notable to TMBG fans, such as the election of James K. Polk and when worms evolved, is also included. Not only that, but it includes a full list of songs that TMBG has ever recorded as of the compilation's release, a list of other musicians that have worked with TMBG, and a lot of other meaningless graphs and charts including the frequency of TMBG gigs held in places beginning with "new", and an incorrect list of presidents mentioned in their lyrics.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Minimum Wage 0:46 
2 Meet James Ensor 1:53 
3 Particle Man 1:58 
4 Don't Let's Start 2:36 
5 She's An Angel 2:36 
6 Cyclops Rock 2:42 
7 Istanbul (Not Constantinople) 2:35 
8 Purple Toupee 2:38 
9 James K. Polk 3:05  N/A
10 Birdhouse In Your Soul 3:19 
11 Ana Ng 3:21 
12 The Guitar 3:49 
13 Bangs 3:14 
14 The Statue Got Me High 3:06 
15 New York City 3:04 
16 Doctor Worm 3:02 
17 Boss Of Me 2:59 
18 Your Racist Friend 2:55 
19 Why Does The Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas) 2:54 
20 They'll Need A Crane 2:31 
21 I Palindrome I 2:21 
22 Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head 2:10 
23 John Lee Supertaster 2:00 
24 Older 1:54 
25 We're The Replacements 1:50 
26 Dr. Evil 1:51 
27 No! 1:29 
28 Clap Your Hands 1:22 
29 Spider 0:51  N/A


  • This is a reduced version of Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants (except for addition of "John Lee Supertaster" and "Clap Your Hands", and the original versions of "Why Does The Sun Shine?", and "Don't Let's Start").
  • The subtitle, "Melody, Fidelity, Quantity" is a reference to the Power Spheres first mentioned in the Apollo 18 promo video.
  • The stripe motif on the cover of the CD is based on the valid UPC bar code for the album. On the back cover (figure one A GRAPH OF TRACKS) the bar code is expanded. One track name is written next to each bar, in addition to the figure title for 30 black bars. The length of each bar is proportional to the actual length of the track.
  • Because the silences at the ends of each track were modified from the original releases, "Don't Let's Start" is actually slightly longer than "She's an Angel", so their order should be switched.