|artist||They Might Be Giants|
|first played||February 6, 2020 (52 known performances)|
|run time|| This unreleased song has only been played live,|
and therefore has no definitive run time.
|sung by||John Flansburgh; John Linnell|
- "Stillub" is a backwards version of "Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love" that debuted on TMBG's 2020 30th Anniversary Flood Tour. Its name is derived from the phonetic pronunciation of the word "bullets" backwards.
- From a February 2020 article in The Ringer published just before the song's first public performance:
[Flansburgh and Linnell] are learning to play the deep cut “Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love” backward. Meaning physically, message-from-Satan backward. Linnell describes this undertaking, drolly, as a “heroic effort,” and regards the result thus far as “surprisingly musical.” “John and I have spent hours and hours at this point trying to memorize the backwards lyrics of ‘Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love,’” Linnell explains, chatting on the phone in mid-January as the duo, long augmented live by a full band, prepared to embark on a monthslong Flood-centric national tour. “What we’ve been able to do at rehearsal is sing it holding up lyric sheets in front of our faces, but we still haven’t mastered the off-book version.”
Godspeed, then, to whichever lucky crowd in whatever random city first gets to hear this splendid monstrosity live. Will that crowd get any advance warning? “Good question,” Linnell says. “I don’t know. Which would be better? Would it be better to tell people in advance, so they’re ready for that? Maybe we could get people to video it, and then we’ll leave it to them to reverse the video and watch it backwards. See what kind of job we did. You know?”
- When asked on Tumblr how the band came up with the concept and why they chose "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love", Flansburgh responded:
Simply because we were doing so many Flood shows, I was trying to think of how we could approach the material in new ways that would kind of sharpen up our focus, and push things beyond the music-under-glass issue of full album shows. It also struck me immediately as probably too hard, but JL and Marty seemed particularly intrigued by the very specific musical challenges that would come up trying to reproduce something that would actually scan properly played in reverse, so they were very game to dig in.
I can’t recall how the short list was created initially, but I think we liked the idea of something with vocal harmony just to have that extra layer of musical interest, and doing a shorter song just so it wasn’t too much of an endurance test for us or the audience. The track itself (with its kind of palindromic guitar figure and busy rhythms) might seem a little unchanged from the original, but everybody faced the challenge head on. It’s still a work in progress-I haven’t really nailed all the lyrics-I think it is getting there.
- Video of the song's February 6, 2020 debut performance in New Haven, CT was featured in articles by Laughing Squid, Stereogum and Consequence of Sound.
- In 2021, Linnell reflected on the recording process for this song: "We were just trying to come up with something interesting. It's kind of fun to piece together in the laboratory how to perform a song live with a band. It's one of my favorite experiences."
- On the 2022-23 Flood tour, "Stillub" is performed in the first half of the show and recorded by the band's cameras, and then that video is played back in reverse for the audience at the end of the intermission. In late 2022 performances, John Linnell began speaking a backwards introduction for the song at the end of performances, and instructed crowds to cheer before the song begins.
- This song was originally referred to by the band as "Stilloob", but only appeared as "Sapphire" or "Stellub" on setlists. Before playing the song on June 8, 2022 at the Bowery Ballroom, Flansburgh said "Initially, the backwards version was called 'Stilooob', but that's actually not how it should—it's actually 'Stillub.'"
- Watch it on – Recorded live on February 6, 2020 by CapitalQ - Debut performance
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