Shoehorn With Teeth

From This Might Be A Wiki

song name Shoehorn with Teeth
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Lincoln, Then: The Earlier Years
year 1988
first played September 16, 1987 (447 known performances)
run time 1:13
sung by John Flansburgh (first verse alone), John Linnell (second verse alone)


  • In 2021, a childhood friend of the Johns named Dan Spockster explained what he believed were the origins of this song in the Miscellaneous T Facebook group:
    OK, so I knew the Johns growing up in Massachusetts. We had a mutual friend, a New York kid I met in summer camp who was very funny, kind of a prankster, a very irreverent sense of humor. We all had these common interests in underground comics, music like Zappa and Beefheart, comedy like Firesign Theater, etc. Anyway, I would go visit him when we were teens in NYC. He had this gag I watched him do where he would go into a shoestore and ask if they carried shoehorns. The clerks would pull out boxes and show him what they had and my friend would say, yeah, no, this isn't the kind I'm looking for. Now some of these stores had quite a selection. It's New York, right? So they'd have everything from the cheap plastic shoehorns that only cost a quarter all the way up to fancier ones with long handles made out of real animal horn, or engraved sterling silver or whatever. So, the clerks would be showing him stuff, completely stumped. What kind are you looking for, kid? And my friend would say, you know, the kind with teeth? The kind that have teeth on them. That kind.

    And these clerks would have all kinds of reactions, everything from I've never heard of that, to there's no such thing, to can you describe it better? The whole time I'm trying not to crack up, but the basic idea was to see how long you could keep the gag going until the clerk got frustrated and threw us out of the store. So, I shared this story with Linnell and he thought it was funny, I guess, because he didn't forget it. He wrote the song probably at least a decade later. The part about people being beat up for stating their beliefs is just a classic Linnell non-sequitur of the type he's been spinning out since he was at least 9 years old when we first met. BTW, the NYC kid responsible for this prank is Eric Drooker who is now a pretty renowned illustrator/artist in his own right.
  • The glockenspiel was originally brought out for Brian Doherty to play during the slow version of "Why Does The Sun Shine?." After a while, the band decided to goof on the audience by making a big show of bringing out the glockenspiel and make them think that They were going to play one song and then actually playing another, unexpected song which was not previously in the live set. What made it even more comical is the fact that the replacement song only used the glockenspiel for three notes. The tradition was handed off to Dan Hickey, and the band continued to make a big show of introducing the song whenever it was played right up until the glockenspiel was retired and given away to a young fan at a show in 2002.
  • In lieu of using the glockenspiel at some shows, Marty Beller has used three desk bells affixed to a 2x4 block while performing the song, or a bell cymbal hanging on a piece of rope.
  • This song has been covered by Da Vinci's Notebook with Moxy Früvous.
  • The note hit on the glockenspiel is an A (recorded with a B-flat note).

Song Themes

Body Parts, Death, Furniture, Music, Questions, Swing Feel, Title Not In Lyrics, Transportation


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Shoehorn With Teeth is currently ranked #268 out of 910. (116 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.55)