John Linnell once observed that even though They Might Be Giants kept getting older, their audience always stayed the same age. The last time I saw They Might Be Giants, they were performing Here Come the ABCs at Amoeba Records in 2005, but elbowing for room against a bunch of hip parents who brought their toddlers to listen to the same band as me, a person roughly ten times their age, made me realize I’m probably getting too old for these guys.
That wasn’t the case two years before when I saw them perform at UCLA in collaboration with Dave Eggers and his twee writer stable to produce McSweeney’s issue #6. Putting Sarah Vowell’s “It could be worse” mantra to music was the highlight for the show for me, even more than Egger’s story about him shitting his pants.
A caveat: I place TMBG’s performance of It Could Be Worse above Dave’s shit story but at least on par with Zadie Smith’s wry british description of the way a gangly, awkward girl ran “like a naturally uncoordinated animal after it had been shot.”
A selection from It Could Be Worse:
You asked for baked potato
and instead they bring you fries
at least that’s not as bad, now
as the day the music died
I had tried in vain to download a full-length version of the delightfully macabre song I heard that night but only ever found the truncated 1:05 version, which is in and of itself a minor tragedy befitting the song. You can try and download the .ogg version (which won’t play on iTunes!), but you’ll get a 404 error. Oh well, it could be worse.
A bright spot is that in my searching, I found this might be a wiki, the TMBG knowledge base, and got to traipse down memory lane and recall fondly the songs and music videos from my one and only favorite band 1988 through 2001.
I think I’ll dig up my DVD of their videos, and maybe give John Henry another listen. Now that I think about it, I was in high school when that came out — just the right age for a They Might Be Giants fan.