Hide Away Folk Family

From This Might Be A Wiki

song name Hide Away Folk Family
artist They Might Be Giants
releases They Might Be Giants, Then: The Earlier Years, Best Of The Early Years
year 1986
first played February 7, 1987 (76 known performances)
run time 3:21
sung by John Flansburgh; John Linnell sings back up


  • In an interview with Spex Magazine from February 1988, John Flansburgh was asked about the lyrics of the song: "In a way, it's about fear, but in a pretty abstract way. The fear is not properly identified. It's a kind of something-is-going-to-happen-but-you-don't-know-what song. Folk songs usually have a story, omitted, and only the atmosphere remains."
  • In the same interview, Flansburgh reveals that he stole the title of the song from a friend of the band:

To tell the truth, I stole the title. A friend of ours did a performance called 'Frieda' where she put a Barbie doll head on her head so that it looked like a two meter tall Barbie doll, and in an interview she was asked to do that Indicate the title of their future hits. One of them was ‘Hide Away Folk Family’. I asked her permission to use the title, she said, ‘No’, and then I wrote the song after all.

  • "To achieve the odd vocal rhythm of the astrology report... Flansburgh's voice was blasting in his headphones on a 2 second delay, a technique inspired by a visit to Boston's Museum of Science, while the 'backwards' singing at the end was carefully worked out and rehearsed." - John & John
  • Linnell on the 'backwards' singing: "It's just me and John [Flansburgh] singing forward. We're just going "nyahp, nyah, nyip, nyahp," that's all it is. One of the instruments or something is actually backwards on that song, though." (Pitchfork Magazine, 1996)
  • Linnell on the keyboards used: "On that last chorus, there's a backward Casio CZ-101 as well as the forward accordion. So some funny synthetic elements are blended into the accordion, although on that particular song it all becomes a single sound."[1]
  • From The Early Years Handbook: "The 'Sadly, The Cross-Eyed Bear' of 'Hide Away, Folk Family' fame is, in fact, a Catholic-school pun. In an old hymn, the line 'Gladly the Cross I'd bear' is sung—mutated by Sunday school smartasses into 'Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear'. In keeping with the song's disconsolate tone, the bear's name was changed to 'Sadly'." This is a popular example of a mondegreen.
  • When performed live, the audience is ordered to "scream as if you're in Hell!" during the bridge. This is one of the few audience participation bits that has persisted over the band's career.
  • Lesley Down is a British actor and singer who starred in a number of films and TV programs from the 1970s and 80s.

Song Themes

Animals, Backwards, Clothes, Death, Doors, Long, Long, Oblique Cliches Or Idiom, Paranoia, People (Real), Plans, Puns, Reading, Relatives, Religion, Supernatural, Sleep, Spoken Word, Transportation


Current Rating

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Hide Away Folk Family is currently ranked #355 out of 910. (117 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.41)