From This Might Be A Wiki
Lincoln album cover
Studio album by They Might Be Giants
First released September 25, 1988
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 18 Last album They Might Be Giants
Label Bar/None / Restless Length 39:32 Next album Flood
This page is for They Might Be Giants' second album. For the band of the same name, see Lincoln (Band).

Lincoln is They Might Be Giants' second studio album, released in 1988 on Bar/None through Restless.


Seller Format Price Link
Magazine ad for the album
Magazine ad for Elektra's re-release of the album



For the band's sophomore effort, named after the Johns' hometown of Lincoln, Massachusetts, they worked once again with producer Bill Krauss. This was the last album he produced for the band, which subsequently turned to Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley for the production of Flood. Like They Might Be Giants, the album does not utilize a full band arrangement. Instead, bass and drum tracks are entirely synthetic or sampled, with the exception of "Lie Still, Little Bottle", which uses live drums. The drum tracks recorded for the album were produced with an Alesis HR-16 drum machine.

The album's working title was Lincoln Calling, a pun of the Clash album London Calling. The Johns intended the pun ironically, as they were aware that Lincoln, MA, was not a particularly proud origin. [1] The recording of the album concluded in May 1988.[2]


Differences between LP pressings of Lincoln are further elaborated upon here.

The cover of Lincoln is a photograph taken by Carol Kitman of a shrine built by Brian Dewan—perhaps the most well-known in his series of whimsical, secular shrines. Behind the podiums, John Flansburgh's maternal grandfather, Brigadier General Ralph Hospital (right) and John Linnell's paternal great-grandfather, Lewis T. Linnell (left) are pictured. Two slightly different versions of the cover photograph are known to exist: one that was used for domestic releases, and another that was used for all releases outside the United States, with the exception of Australian releases and the Italian CD. The CD cover features only the photograph, whereas the LP cover includes the text THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS, and the cassette adds this and the name of the album. The CD longbox divides the photo into two halves (as the front and back covers).

The majority of domestic Lincoln LPs were packaged with custom inner sleeves, upon which a monochrome photograph of a smaller Lincoln-themed shrine—more of a Lincoln aedicula—was printed (the color of the photograph varied among international releases). Lyrics and credits for the album were also listed on the sleeve. A minority of domestic pressings included the liner notes printed on a separate sheet, rather than the sleeve itself. The LP labels, cassette card, CD, and CD back feature diagrams of an accordion and accordion case, which were drawn by John Linnell.

A historical chart showing Lincoln's performance on the Billboard 200


The album debuted on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart (now known as the Billboard 200) the week of December 24, 1988 and spent 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 89 in 1989. In addition, it produced three singles: "Ana Ng" (1988), "Purple Toupee" (1989), and "They'll Need A Crane" (1989). "Ana Ng", which was the first single by the band to land on any Billboard Chart, spent 9 weeks on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart, peaking at number 11 in late 1988. The other singles from the album did not chart.

The success of the album paved the way for the band to make the jump from the independent label Bar/None to the major label Elektra in 1989. It also led to its re-release, in its entirety, alongside the Pink Album, on the Restless compilation Then: The Earlier Years.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
1 Ana Ng 3:23


2 Cowtown 2:21


3 Lie Still, Little Bottle 2:06


4 Purple Toupee 2:40


5 Cage & Aquarium 1:10


6 Where Your Eyes Don't Go 3:06


7 Piece Of Dirt 2:00


8 Mr. Me 1:52


9 Pencil Rain 2:42


10 The World's Address 2:24


11 I've Got A Match 2:36


12 Santa's Beard 1:55


13 You'll Miss Me 1:53


14 They'll Need A Crane 2:33


15 Shoehorn With Teeth 1:13


16 Stand On Your Own Head 1:16


17 Snowball In Hell 2:31


18 Kiss Me, Son Of God 1:54


2013 Australian bonus tracks[edit]

The 2013 Australian reissue included a selection of B-sides and rarities previously released on Then: The Earlier Years.

2018 Remaster[edit]

In June 2018, Flansburgh announced the band would be remastering and re-releasing Lincoln.[3] It was released on 180 gram transparent red vinyl in late October 2018.[4] Flansburgh has commented that the remaster will have "smoothed out EQ and of course more contemporary volume levels." [5]


  • A part of the Dewan-built shrine from Lincoln's cover can also be seen on the back cover of They'll Need A Crane.
  • The vinyl record features lyrics from "Ana Ng" between the run-out grooves on either side of the LP:
    • Side 1: "I don't want the world"
    • Side 2: "I just want your half"
  • Linnell on the back cover artwork: "I think it's a drawing that I made for measurements for my accordion case. If you open it up, on the actual CD, there are pictures of both the case and the accordion. I just did those on yellow legal paper to send to the guy who was building our cases for our first tour, and Flansburgh saved the drawings and we put them on the cover." (Pitchfork, 1996)
  • The Italian releases of the album have several significant issues. Details concerning the LP labels are outlined here.
  • In an interview with Hatchet on February 16th, 1989, Flansburgh explained the album cover:
The general on the right side of the cover is my grandfather, and the man with the beard is John Linnell's great-grandfather. Originally the guy who built the shrine wanted to put our photographs in the frame, but we felt funny putting our faces on it, so instead we put the faces of our ancestors on it. It's kind of nice, it's got this churchlike quality to it, so there's something reverent about it, and then something very twisted about it.

Image gallery[edit]




International CD releases[edit]