Interpretations:My Evil Twin

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A great song about creating a twin to take the rap for all your mistakes. Flans at his best. (mr Tuck)

Back in 1980 George Bush coined the term "Voodoo economics" to describe the policies of his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Ronald Reagan.

So it can be understood that the arms cut off the voodoo doll were those of Ronald Reagan from 1980. Seeing as this song was released in 1992, that would have been 12 years in the past.

Reagan was a Republican president, and probably the president most closely associated with the word voodoo, but beyond that, I don't see where this line was meant to evoke Reagan:

Who cut the arm off the voodoo doll
That resembles a Republican president from long ago

  • The natural read of this is that 'from long ago' modifies president, not voodoo doll. Reagan hadn't even been out of office a full term yet, and it was still the 'Reagan-Bush years'. Maybe there was some irony or wishful thinking in saying long ago, but I don't see the clues for that.
  • The suggestion is that the president (or person that resembles one) is the target of the voodoo. The term Voodoo Economics cast him as the practitioner.

I'm not sure they had a particular president in mind here - it almost seems like they're trying to keep adding detail without explaining things at all. Perhaps they were evoking the age of portly presidents with peculiar facial hair?

(If you want to say Reagan's 'old what's his name' in Number Three, I'll agree that's more than likely)


The first rule of My Evil Twin is; we do not talk about My Evil Twin. The second rule....

The point is, TMBG is SUCH an amazing band, that they were able to write a tribute song to Fight Club before it was made a movie. Or written.

This is another song about the ego (most closely related to Where Your Eyes Don't Go) but is better compared to Jung's shadow because of the voodoo doll. This is Jung's dream, where he is able to see his shadow: a smaller, darker, more animal figure, alluding back to pre-civilized Africa - witch doctors, voodoo dolls, savage acts and beastial intent. The singer is sure to mention this figure has influence only at night, only when he is dreaming.

One could argue for this song's keeping the space motif of the album. Gemini = twins. A stretch, I know. -- TheBlunderbuss

This song sounds to me like it could be about someone with multiple personalities, or maybe a schizophrenic. The line "My friends have seen him hiding underneath my skin" supports this (the person with the disorder doesn't necessarily notice, but other people do). The "blame [he saves] me from" could refer to the narrator not being sent to jail for doing illegal things, since he has a mental disorder and he's not necesarily responsible for the things he does.

It could also be about someone (perhaps a child) with an imaginary friend, though some elements of the song are a little too mature for the narrator to be a child. There are a lot of ways to interpret this... (Wow, I can't believe I just tried to interpret a TMBG song. Bad me.)

I always thought it was just about a guy who liked to do bad stuff because it was fun, and blame it on his imaginary twin. And doing a poor job of it. Especially the line "hates work like me"--makes it sound especially childish.

This is an obvious reference to John Hinckley Jr., who shot Reagan, and then claimed insanity. he was found to be schizofrenic, therefore he blamed the assasination on his "evil twin"

I always learn so much about politics and other good stuff from reading the interpretations of They Might Be Giants songs... Anyway. In several parts of My Evil Twin, I got the impression that the narrator is making reference to a doppelgänger, which is a name for the phenomenon of seeing ghostly images or a "duplicate" of yourself. The very name "evil twin" suggests a look-alike; of course, this isn't true of all twins, but it's confirmed in the song:

(My twin) I know he looks like me
(My twin) Hates work like me and walks like me

Most of the song can be interpreted as being about someone who, like a child, has created an imaginary "twin" of themselves to take the blame for things they do wrong, or someone with multiple personality disorder and avoidance issues, but these can also be likened to the traditional idea of a doppelgänger. For instance, a doppelgänger is thought to offer advice to their counterpart, but the advice is usually misleading or malicious; a doppelgänger may even plant ideas in a counterpart's mind. The bad actions, vandalism etc. perpetrated by the narrator may have been things he was tricked into doing or persuaded to do. (The reference to Nostradamus doesn't have much to do with it, except suggesting that the narrator is superstitious.)

The lines that're most suggestive of a doppelgänger, to me, are: I know some day I'll meet him / But I don't know where or when. Traditionally, seeing one's doppelgänger is an omen of bad luck, and especially of the seer's death. Some believe that everyone in the world has one identical double somewhere out there, and if those two people meet, one of them must die. (This would account for what "scares" the narrator.) If a friend or family member sees one's doppelgänger (My friends have seen him hiding underneath my skin), it signifies bad luck or illness for the counterpart.

And... that's pretty much all I have to say about that. Sorry if my associations were tenuous or anything, I'm new at this.

(Oh, and this may be of some interest- Abraham Lincoln (a Republican president from long ago, in case you were wondering) told his wife that soon following his election, he saw two faces of himself in a mirror, one of which was extremely pale. She believed this meant that he would be elected to a second term, but would not survive- both true. Lincoln was plagued by premonitions of his death in the form of nightmares, also. The associations of the voodoo doll with Reagan are much more fitting, but still... interesting if you think about it in relation to the doppelgänger theory.)

I guess that this song is about a man who does bad stuff, like littering (doing donuts on the neighbor's lawn), and anarchy(who cut the arm off the voodoo doll that resembles a republican president from long ago). He blames iton his imaginary friend, his evil "twin". Which is actually him. I dunno. --Homfrog.

I think it's about someone with a split personality--in this case, a good half and an evil half. The good half is the singer. He is scared of his evil half, because it's been taking control of him and causing him to do terrible things, but part of him is grateful, because seeing as how he's basically crazy, he could plead insanity if he's caught--thus saving him from the blame.

It seems to me that it's about someone having an "evil" twin, but actually the twin is exactly like him. Nyktos 16:21, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

I think it's mostly pretty simple. The narrator blames all of his misbehavior on him ( "I have grown so grateful for the blame you save me from"), but still makes it obvious that he and his twin are the same person or at the very least exactly like each other("He always wants to start when I want to begin" being the most obvious instance, instead of good and evil wanting the opposite of each other they want the same thing.) Finally he reveals that he has never even met his evil twin, which leaves him as the only culprit.

Some of the lines are simply odd, like the voodoo doll verse, but I don't know if that's just supposed to be silliness or what.

EDIT: 'My friends have seen him hiding underneath my skin' most nearly implies that the narrator and the twin are one in the same; at the very least they are identical twins. The line 'He's even got a twin like me' makes or breaks many interpretations; it all comes down to the use of the word 'like'. If he means 'like' in the superficial sense that his twin also has a twin (which is entirely redundant) then they are most likely different people, but if one interprets 'like' to mean alike you can affirm that the narrator is the twin, and the narrator perhaps suffers from Schizophrenia or a Jekyll/Hyde type thing. --Mc Frown 21:09, 11 September 2011 (EDT)

It's someone with a split personality. They haven't met their evil twin because their twin is their other personality. "My friends have seen him hiding underneath my skin" could be interpreted as that he looks exactly the same, but I think it indicates that the evil twin is inside him, as his other personality. "Searchlights look for an alibi but I'll be home by then" seems like his twin was doing something terrible and then the singer took over the body again, with no memory of what happened and is running home.

I kind of feel like the song is about a criminal blaming everything bad he does on his "evil twin." Of course, nobody believes him. His says his evil twin pretends to be him.

I can hear some sirens somewhere
But I don't know why
Search lights look for an alibi, but
I'll be home by then
--DoubleDenial (talk) 16:46, 26 February 2018 (EST)

Jekyll And Hyde[edit]

I think this song fits the concept of 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' really well. Jekyll transforms into Hyde at night to indulge in his darker side without consequences ("Doing donuts on the neighbour's lawn, then sleep all through the day"), but he grows disgusted by his actions as Hyde ("It scares me so, like I scare myself"). At the end of the story, the main character learns the truth to Hyde's identity ("My friends have seen him hiding underneath my skin"). AngleBlueprint (talk) 16:17, 2 July 2020 (EDT)

aside from the interpretation echoed several times above this could be a case of the narrator projecting his negative view of himself onto someone just like him and then scapegoating him. he's becoming partially conscious about this, hence referring to him as "my evil twin" and acknowledging how similar they are. but why stop? his scapegoat saves him from so much blame - "i might be bad, but look what THIS guy is doing!" - and self-reflection. "he's even got a twin like me" could mean the evil twin is also just as insecure, and projecting onto someone else.

also, in respectability politics, it's common to try to point to a single person or group of people and say "you were right, the stereotypes about the group i'm in are true, but they apply to people like this guy! i'm one of the reasonable ones." the bit about "who cut the arm off a voodoo doll of a republican president from long ago?" could be an appeal to authority that neither the narrator nor the "evil twin" agree with, but which the narrator pretends to support in order to fit in, whereas the "evil twin" is rebellious enough to cut its arm off - which the narrator calls him out on.

this is probably very stretched and i'm not sure what i'm typing anymore. --Ncrecc (talk) 16:09, 1 July 2022 (EDT)