Working Undercover For The Man

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song name Working Undercover for the Man
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Working Undercover For The Man (EP), Mink Car (except European releases)
year 2000
first played September 8, 1998 (85 known performances)
run time 2:19
sung by John Flansburgh


It's more a meditation on the "Mod Squad" than anything else. The idea of the narc just seems...Like, those episodes of Dragnet where they have the young, undercover dress in a hippie suit. The whole thing about being in a band, you can almost think of everything as a costume. There's something artificial about it, but you've taken everything from street life, and then incorporated them into a stage show. There's nothing normal about being on stage. There's nothing true about being on stage. I guess the idea of rock music...people in the rock culture are so hung up on this notion of "authenticity" that it's painful. And I just thought that the idea of the guy in the band, you know, he's just a narc, was kind of exciting. It just revealed a larger potential lie. Like, maybe the guy in Soundgarden isn't really on the verge of total emotional collapse. Maybe he just thinks his hair looks really good today.
I've always been infatuated with the expression "the man," because it's so vague and mysterious. It just has a certain X-Files appeal to it. It's such a paranoid idea. It's sorta like an update on the "Mod Squad" concept, the idea that there's a band going around the country infiltrating youth culture.
  • Prior to the release of the studio version, this song was performed live with a different arrangement that was more of a nod to 1960s pop.
  • Flansburgh wrote the horn charts for this song.[1]

Song Themes

Eyes, Hair, Intelligence, Espionage, Lies And Deception, Music, Occupations, Transportation


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Working Undercover For The Man is currently ranked #395 out of 1010. (92 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.45)