From This Might Be A Wiki

song name Cowtown
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Lincoln, Then: The Earlier Years, Mightathon, Best Of The Early Years, Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants
year 1988
first played July 18, 1982 (174 known performances)
run time 2:21
sung by John Flansburgh (sings first refrain and second verse alone); John Linnell (sings first verse alone)


Linnell wrote the song 'Cowtown' when I was in a sort of pre-They Might Be Giants project with him and this other guy, who's a writer in New York. His name is Dave Lindsay. [...] Dave Lindsay played bass and I played guitar and Linnell played keyboards. We had this project that we rehearsed for like a month and had a bunch of songs including 'Cowtown' and then it just didn't come together for whatever reason, I'm not really sure.
Cowtown is probably the very earliest song that we worked on as They Might Be Giants. In fact, we played as a trio with this fellow Dave Lindsay, who's actually Arto Lindsay's cousin. [...] David was a standup bass player and we jammed with him a few times - rehearsed with him a few times. And one of the songs that we put together - that John and I put together - was that song Cowtown. It's really Linnell's song, but I contributed some lyrics. But Cowtown is really like the original They Might Be Giants song. It's a pretty light-hearted song. I think the lyric that I contributed was sort of vaguely inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey... it's pretty hard to explain.
  • Often, for example, at the February 2008 Beacon Theatre show, the song is introduced as the first song that John and John learned how to play together as a band.
  • In several live performances, Marty Beller electronically produces a screaming sound for the instrumental interludes between verses, but The Audience usually accompanies this filler with actual screaming.
  • The lyric "The yellow Roosevelt Avenue leaf overturned" is a combination of various phrases ("The Yellow Rose of Texas", "Roosevelt Avenue", "a new leaf overturned").
  • According to Gary Ray, the band once performed this song at Darinka.[1]
  • Flansburgh talked about the samples used in the song in a 2022 Tumblr post: "I think they are from a stock library that came with either the Akai sampler or the Fairlight… might even be a combo plater of a horror movie scream and something else…"

Song Themes

Animals, Cities, Colors, Friendship, Oblique Cliches Or Idiom, Puns, The Senses, Sleep, Sea, Songs With Samples, Streets


Current Rating

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Cowtown is currently ranked #188 out of 1005. (208 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.77)