Mailing List Archive/2002-11-06

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SOME UPCOMING SHOWS details at end of message 11/11 Boston in-store free show - 11/18 White Plains in-store free show - 11/20 DC in-store free show - 12/7 Chicago, IL special family shows - 12/27 and 28 NYC Irving Plaza!

and YES ST. LOUIS! "Gigantic" is finally playing as part of the International Film Festival on 11/18


Friends! So much news!

I don't know if you're like me- but I am just fed up with all this so-called "election news" preempting the Winona Ryder verdict coverage. Now, I'm waiting up to see the Trachtenburgs on Conan (our fine fine opening act on TMBG's last tour is supposed to be on tonight) but all I see is Tom Brokaw with a bunch of charts and a lot of bad news. Arg.

Anyway, we're back in Brooklyn after a quick two week sprint through the mid-Atlantic and mid-west. Thanks to the THOUSAND new email subscribers from our last tour. Nice to know they've finally got the hook up, and although we joke about it, you should all know that we never share our list with anyone, and never, ever will. The special McSweeney's shows with Dave Eggers and his crew were a bold experiment and a really fun time. It was really a gas making up yet another song for Sarah Vowell. Sure, we could have used a stage manager, but maybe that would take the charm out of it. Here's a link to a review of the McSweeney's Vs. TMBG Show that ran in the Washington Post


Yes, by popular demand we are doing two special shows for kids at the Old Town School in Chicago on Dec. 7th. Tickets go on sale next week at Ticketweb.

We are also doing two big shows in New York City at Irving Plaza in between Xmas and New Year's. Tickets are NOT on sale yet but should be available soon at the box office and at

We are also doing some free duo shows and signings at some fine Borders locations (details below) in support of our new Rhino compilation. We have heard reports of retailers not being in stock (since it is an expensive 2 cd box-more often than not, the store probably got one and it's been sold) so we're happy to announce that we have it in stock at (along with some fine value-packed "bundles").


Finally, AJ Schnack's full length documentary "Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns" will be shown in St. Louis- the epicenter of all things TMBG! The date is Monday, Nov. 18, 9:15 pm at the Hi-Pointe Theater located at 1005 McCausland STL, MO 63117. Advance tickets are STRONGLY recommended and available at the Tivoli Theatre 6350 Delmar STL, MO 63130 314.862.1100. Here's an informative link

E A R L Y H O L I D A Y O R D E R S With the holidays around the corner, Operator Dot wanted me to remind you that our secured ecommerce site is extraordinarily well organized, but because of our small staff we love love love the early Xmas orders. We have some sweet bundles available, including new t-shirts and these recent CD releases:

THIS JUST OUT! "Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants" A new 52 song retrospective including "Robot Parade (adult version)," soundtrack songs "Boss of Me" and "Dr. Evil," and a set of TMBG favorites selected by me and John.

PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT FOR KIDS "No!" This is our first disc for children including adult faves "John Lee Supertaster," "No!," "Clap Your Hands," and "Bed Bed Bed Bed Bed." It is fully interactive, so there is a lot more to this disc than you might suspect.

ONLY AVAILABLE HERE "They Got Lost: A Collection of Rarities" Our first compilation of top quality rarities drawing from EMusic Unlimited, live shows, McSweeney's, Long Tall Weekend and some just plain obscure stuff.

A B O U T "T H E Y G O T L O S T"

On the last couple of tours you might have heard us performing "On The Drag" or "They Got Lost" and talking about the "They Got Lost" rarities disc- well, you can only get it at shows and on-line! And it's exactly this rarity that makes it such a great gift. I have written some highly subjective personal liner notes to the various songs to perhaps pique the interest of people who haven't checked it out, and as an enhancement for the proud owners of this fine disc.

So here's a highly subjective overview by John Flansburgh on "They Got Lost"

Rest Awhile This is a highly rocking track which really spotlights an extraordinary rhythm section. This is the very first recording we did with Dan Hickey and probably the last we did with bass legend Graham Maby (the mega-bass power behind nu-waver Joe Jackson) before he got scooped away by Natalie Merchant. It was also one of the first sessions we did at Coyote Studio, and there was a very fun and easy vibe around this session.

Truth In Your Words This is one of my favorites from the McSweeney's disc. Very new wave. Recorded and mixed within a Malcolm In The Middle tracking session, although it's all machines save for the electric guitars. I wish it was longer.

On the Drag You might remember this one from the live show. We recorded a version of this for Factory Showroom but it sounded kind of generic. At a later session at Coyote for something else we pulled this one out and the track came back to life.

All Alone This song was part of the ABC Nightline series that we did. Our assignment was to write a song about a germ that went to the moon and caused quite a bit of confusion at NASA. This song contains a little more existential angst than your average folk song, and probably more than was required.

Down to the Bottom of the Sea Another fine miniature from the McSweeney's session. This track features both JL and me tracking it up on the Korg "preset" synthesizer- a remarkably sleazy device from the mid-70s that I bought in a pawn shop that kinda simplifies the idea of a monophonic synthesizer into a pretty straightforward ugly sound maker, and with the addition of the guitars, it's a real contender for the most out-of-tune track we've ever recorded.

I'm Sick (of this American life) We wrote and recorded this in a single afternoon on a dare from Sarah Vowell from This American Life while she waited at a coffee shop for us to finish. She offered us money to write a song spontaneously, as part of her report on Dial-A-Song, and, while we turned down the dough, we rose to the bait and cooked this thing up. Nice obvious use of some simple drum loops, and no bass instrument in sight-which I find intriguing and pretty random. The lyrics cannibalize some of what was going to become "Cyclops Rock" probably because they were sitting around at the moment.

Words Are Like My second favorite track on the disc. The lyrics are a total dreamscape. That's Robin "Goldie" Goldwasser doing a top-quality "Levon-Helms-asleep-at-the-drums" imitation and on harmony vocal. This was our little Americana-tribute for the "Battle of the Bands" project we cooked up for TMBG Unlimited last year. Again-drums and no bass.

I Am a Human Head This song was recorded for "No!" but came across too adult in the end. Dan Miller delivers some nice guitar work.

Oranges We cooked up this song as an accompaniment to a cool web site designed by The Chopping Block (the fine folks who've designed Mink Car, No! and a lot of our web stuff.)

Empty Bottle Blues (instrumental) We put most of this track together electronically for a Malcolm session, and then set trumpet player Jim O'Connor loose on it. I remember instructing him to keep it as simple and bluesy as possible, basically in keeping with the simplicity of the track, and he still cooked up this wild and sophisticated part. He also harmonized it in a most excellent way in the second half of the song.

They Got Lost Our title track is vibey tour-de-force of TMBG Mk II. Eric Schermerhorn and I worked out some nice interwoven guitar parts, and the lyric of the song is the universal touring band mantra.

Reprehensible A cool song that fell between the cracks. This song features the sound of the Mellotron (actually from a sampler) that was a primitive version of sampling created in the 60s. The "horn section" is actually created by playing a chord on an electronic keyboard, but instead of a piano or organ sound you get the sound of a saxophone, or in this case, the sound of a very old-fashioned, melodramatic, vibrato-laded sax with a tone more from the 40s than from the 60s when it was recorded.

Rat Patrol This song cause quite a bit of division-even among those within the inner sanctum of TMBG. The effect of Linnell's very twitchy vocal is further heightened when I come in with my personal caterwauling. We can't really justify this track. We're just grateful it's finally on a CD.

The Army's Tired Now An abstract version of an antiwar song. The spare extended instrumental opening adds something haunting to the track. I think this song was originally more on the Neil Young side of the good ship Rock, but this recording goes to show how an octave bass part and a sleighbell really can make anything sound like "Pet Sounds" (which is a good thing).

Certain People I Could Name A piano driven song with subtle charm from the Factory Showroom era. Don't really know how this got put aside, but I suspect it was probably more due to its mid-tempo than its high quality.

Theme to McSweeney's #6 (instrumental) Linnell "switches on" to something with this highly filigreed instrumental.

Dollar for Dollar A mini-track from McSweeney's of maximum charm.

Mosh Momken Abadon (instrumental) Another JL instrumental, only this is actually a cover of an Egyptian pop song.

Token Back to Brooklyn This is actually a hidden track on one of our albums, but I'm not going to tell you how or where it is hidden.

Disappointing Show This is from a live show at Columbia University in NYC. We had a new stage tech (for one day) who neglected to plug anything in before we walked on stage- leading to perhaps the most humbling show start of our humbling careers. Things went downhill from there with power failures and electronic disasters. This spontaneously written song captures the magic of the disappointment!

Oranges Testimonial A little spoken word piece about how much we love the Chopping Block. Ultimately as unimportant as the previous track, but we think it is worth saving from rock oblivion.


To check out an interview with me and Linnell as we walked around the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, go to this link:

This is a rather lengthy and wildly rambling interview with me and AJ Schnack, director of "Gigantic." It's pretty kooky and occasionally off color, but what would you expect from a fine site called ""?

If you never got a chance to check out the New Yorker piece, the nice people at Weezers media site have transcribed it:

This AP piece has a surprising amount of info in it as well as quotes from me and John:,001100050003.htm


11/11 Boston Instore - 4:30pm Borders Downtown Crossing 10- 24 School St. 617.557.7188 11/18 White Plains NY instore 7:30pm Borders Westchester Pavilion Phone: 914.421.1110 11/20 DC instore 6;30pm Borders Downtown 1801 L. St. NW 202.466.4999 12/7 Chicago, IL 2:00pm and 4:00pm Old Town School 12/27 New York Cit-ay! Irving Plaza

12/28 New York Cit-ay! Irving Plaza